THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY 11 - Monday 22nd January 1996

DISCIPLINE AND REACTIONS

 

†††††††† Mr. Brian Tyrrell, Superintendent of the YUS Subway but at the time of the accident Supt. at Wilson, was the first witness of the day. Mr. Punter lead him through the discipline procedure and especially what has been called an "amnesty" when it came to Signal violations. This amnesty has been in place since 1993(?) in an effort to curtail a rash of damage to trip cocks and trip arms as a result of signal violations. The idea is that even though you may trip, please report it so we can check to see if there has been any damage done. The witness did not provide any indications, either to Mr. Punter or to other counsel as to what was being done about the cause of these signal violations. No evidence has yet been offered as to the nature of the situation. I don't remember Mr. Reidak even mentioning it.

 

†††††††† Mr. Punter has discovered that Management views things differently from operators - this amnesty is a good example. Mr. Punter still doesn't know what an interlocking signal is - came out in testimony about Mr. Jeffrey's crashing the X6 at York Mills the previous day. Mr. Jeffrey was not disciplined correctly with the known facts although Mr. Tyrrell said he was.

 

†††††††† Mr. Gomberg, Mrs. Zaba's counsel, lead Mr. Tyrrell through the discipline process in great detail. He got him to agree that:-

†††††††† the inspector at Finch had "counselled" Mr. Jeffrey and told him to prepare a written report

††††††††† the Transit Control Centre, who knew that the X6 had been fixed, told Mr. Jeffrey that he didn't need to do a report because the signal "was broken"

††††††††† Mr. Jeffrey got what his guard called a "freebie" from Transit Control, a comment that Mr. Tyrrell and Mr. Leck objected to despite it's accuracy.

 

†††††††† In the past, trainees used to get their subway revenue training with "just plain guys" because there were only 10 Divisional Trainers. Now there are 16 Divisional Trainers and nobody gets to go out with "just plain guys" anymore.

 

†††††††† The phrase "signal tower" was not used and further confusion has been thrown into the ring between what goes on at the terminals and what goes on in Transit Control.

 

†††††††† The Jury and Dr Huxter questioned Mr. Tyrrell on the subject of the guards responsibility in the case of a trip. There is none now.

 

†††††††† The next witness was Mel Lumsden, the guard of run 34. Before giving evidence, Mr. Punter granted Mr. Lumsden and all operator witnesses the protection of the Canada Evidence Act which he explained (as I understood him) as being required in order for the witnesses to testify without the fear of reprisals.

 

†††††††† This was a trained witness. All the answers were given pat. The red light and a lunar is confusing; needs more training time in the cab during revenue operation; the railing at St Clair West obscures the lunar white; thought it would be a good idea to have someone greet him on his first day.

 

†††††††† Before I discuss anything further, I would like my readers to put themselves in the place of the four operators of runs 34 and 35. First of all, none of you has been in the subway for more than a couple of years (not sure how this relates to the guard of 35), some of you joined the TTC so you could drive subway trains, others of you are a bit reticent, in fact you got "forced" into the subway as a result of lack of bus crews. The radio has been fairly quiet, no more than the usual noisy nonsense from Transit Control, half of which you can't hear. Within an hour you discover that you have been involved in something so unique it has never happened before. You are the centre of attention for days from your family, your doctors, your employer, your union, your mates, the media, the police, the coroners office, the TTC lawyers, your Superintendent and every other Tom, Dick and Harry who ever had a question to ask. The heat and the horror of the crash site you have just left and through which you have helped injured passengers and been close to dead ones is burned into your memory with a force you'll NEVER forget.................. but then you have memory lapses !!!!!

 

†††††††† Mr. Lumsden couldn't remember what the OTC had said to him when he complained about the only thing he found wrong with the training course (not enough revenue run time), couldn't recall any announcements, didn't know of situations between St Clair West and Dupont, unable to remember how many times the train had stopped between St Clair West and the accident or for how long, didn't remember calling his mate, Mr. DeSantos, before calling the TCC, thought the time to wait before calling Transit Control was two minutes.

 

†††††††† All other witnesses so far to this point are one minute. For an experienced operator any time is too long to wait given that Transit Control's record on the Aug. 11th tape gives the impression that TCC is not paying close enough attention to calls from the operators. In Mr. Lumsden's opinion, he is in contact with TCC every day and that once or twice a month he hangs up because TCC does not respond.

 

†††††††† Mr. Punter's wish list drew out the required Flashlight response.

 

B-I-GF-A-TH-I-N-TT-OA-N-Y-O-N-EL-I-S-T-E-N-I-N-G

 

††† †††††Rush out to the nearest supplier and pick up some of those key ring flashlights. Have the word "SAFETY" all over it and the TTC icon prominently displayed. Hand one to every single TTC employee with a promise to replace the battery or even the whole key ring if necessary--but do it NOW !!!!!!! You can include pensioners in this if you like!!!!

 

==========================================

 

†††††††† Mr. Lumsden is the second employee to mention that operators cannot do first aid, that's why there's no first aid kit. And here Uncle Mel Lastman's training cab drivers to deliver babies - there is some definite wire crossing going on here.

 

†††††††† Mr. Lumsden thinks that the idea of lunar whites and red aspects goes against the reflexes. Give that man a Punter Star!!!

 

†††††††† Mr. Gomberg had Mr. Lumsden describe the cab layouts and Mr. Lumsden got lost. The Car to Wayside system came in for further criticism.

 

†††††††† Mr. Falzone asked what was the cause of tension and pressure on the first days of operating a subway train? Mr. Lumsden replied that it was the first time that he had ever met a situation where you could run up to a red light and know it was going to change. I began to wonder if this man had ever driven a bus or other road vehicle before.

 

†††††††† With all the talk we've heard about freebies, I think Mr. Lumsden got a freebie from this court. One can detect the withdrawal from contentious areas, no-one wants to be the first to open the floodgates.

 

†††††††† A major breach took place with Mr. DeSantos who was most forthcoming in his descriptions of his actions up to and after the collision. It is a pity that after such a good effort and despite counsels "many attempts at revisiting the question", Mr. DeSantos could not be encouraged to describe an automatic keyby. It is my impression that he didn't get much training about such in the school and it has become such a dirty word in the subway that it is no wonder he didn't know about it. There is a SERIOUS situation here. Mr. DeSantos described a major difficulty in getting hold of Transit Control (via the overload, dial second number message we have heard about). Please see the official transcript for details - he ain't the only one chaps !!!!!

 

†††††††† Mr. Gomberg got this witness "to sort of agree" that the phrase "Are you having trouble with your train Sir?" is a euphemism for "Keep up with the headway Sir!!"

 

COMMENTS

 

1) Today we heard very clear evidence that it is more important at the TTC to speak in the Politically Correct way than to operate with clarity and efficiency. I offer two examples from today's testimony:-

 

Brian Tyrrell just couldn't stop saying MotorPerson. For my whole life I have heard of motormen ..... well you get the message. Mr. Tyrrell has been poisoned, as have so many people I know with this situation of using the word man. I realize I am tilting at windmills but it is my belief that one of the situations we have in our communications is that no-one knows what we are talking about, are you having trouble with YOUR train Sir? Have you noticed it is not Personslaughter or Personhandle yet ????

 

†††††††† Much more serious is Mr. Tyrellís admittance that at the TTC the word "Counseling" has lost it's general connotation of offering help. He described the new procedure of counseling operators who have tripped as being equated with discipline. Counseling does not include disciplining, it is concerned with assisting another human being to cope with difficulty. But now, operators who trip are counseled, i.e. they get to go to the school on their own time without pay for a "refresher" course. But we can communicate - can't we???

 

2)††††† Today's evidence raised a number of points in my mind which I will just enumerate here. I suggest that all my readers give some thought to the solutions to these situations because if we don't ................

 

a)††††† Mr. Gomberg scored the most direct hit of the inquest in questioning Mr. Tyrrell. He got Mr. Tyrrell to agree, with the help of documentary evidence, that Mr. Jeffrey had been counseled by the Finch inspector to put in a written report for his X6 trip at York Mills. That Transit Control, who should have been aware of the completion of the X6 situation, told Mr. Jeffrey that he didn't need to put in a report due to Signal failure. Mr. Gomberg has discovered that we are unable to carry information for a few hours to help us deal with current situations. If Howard Moscoe thinks we want Battlestar Gallactica, he'd better watch out for this jury!!!!

 

b)††††† Advice to potential witnesses who wear contact lenses. Wear glasses for the day, the dryness in the courtroom makes your eyes look bloodshot with consequent presentation of uncertainty!!

 

c)††††† We obviously need a complete redefinition of what a signal violation is. Operators should not have the impression that keying by is a sin which is the case now. There are many good and valid reasons for keybys. By putting the fear of God into operators over proceeding past a signal, we then ask him to tie down trip arms etc. If I was an operator, I'd be confused by these mixed messages. For an operator to be not aware of an automatic keyby, despite as much coaching as counsel could rightfully give,means that our training and operation of the subway requires some drastic rethinking. There is not, and I repeat not, anything unsafe or unusual about our subway operations but, in a very Star Trek way, we have imbued it with powers it does not have and it is running us, we are not running it.

 

d)††††† Despite descriptions of the Lunar White system as a counterintuitive thing, which counsel is encouraging, I would remind my readers that the operation of road traffic signals have advanced greens, there is a yellow aspect before turning red, flashing lights at a railway crossing indicate the imminent arrival of a train and an even more imminent ("Perhaps I can Beat it !!") lowering of the gates, the following of one number by another to indicate an elevator rising through a building - all of these are examples of our use of expectations and I'm sure we can think of a lot more. If I have been told that a Lunar White showing means my next signal will clear if I behave myself and I get lots of confirmations of this during my training and over the days, months and years I operate in the Subway, I am not going to find it any more counterintuitive than the examples I have quoted.

 

e)††††† Both Mr. Lumsden and Mr. DeSantos said that they liked to see the train stop, it was even on Mr. Lumsden's wish list that the train stop heads be painted white (where have I heard that before??). What was not ascertained from either witness was why the necessity to SEE the train stop.

 

f)††††† There is evidence that the guards and motormen are not using the internal car radio system properly. If I was a guard and I knew what a trip felt like, I would sure want to ask my buddy what had happened, especially if I knew that there was going to be discipline and I may have to operate the train. The fact that this is not happening is an agreement with the evidence that the trainstop and trip cocks are getting hit and damaged much more often than is thought. It is not a sin to hit a train stop. Better they get hit than we run into the back of stationary trains killing people whatever the cost of replacement of the signal or car equipment. We might also get a fleet of drivers who DO know that the system is safe, and they have confidence in it because they USE it, not let it use them.

 

g)††††† I am going to invent a new phrase here:- "a lunar white indicated red" or LWIR. It is obvious from the testimony so far that an LWIR clearance policy is required. Should an LWIR go to yellow a minimum of 10 to 15 seconds before the train reaches it like a regular signal? Should it be seen to clear just as the train passes it (through the side window as evidence suggests some drivers see the yellow)? Should the LWIR stay at red all the time and let the drivers operate on the trips, which is what they are doing anyway ("I want to see the trips. In fact I want to see them so much, I want them painted white!!")

 

†††††††† Day 12 promises Mr. Jeffrey

 

†††††††††††††††† Dave Irwin††† -††† 22 January 1996

 



 

Day 00 Preliminaries Day 01 Getting Started

This page accessed times.
E-mail Dave Irwin E-mail
Return to Dave Irwin's Home Page Return to Home Page
Changes last made on: Wednesday the 23rd of August, 2000.