Friday, January 7, 2011

On the buses with OC-Transpo

The Nation’s Capital’s bus service is a strange entity. Two winters ago we endured a Christmas-time strike …because OC-Transpo drivers wanted to set their own schedules. Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all do that?! However, that’s now history.

But under "normal circumstances," have you ever driven along certain routes in Ottawa at around 10 a.m. and seen the gauntlet of empty buses travelling back to the depot with an “Out of Service/Hors Service” sign lit up on their route display? When rush hour is over, many buses, especially the express, travel back to the depot until the route starts again for the afternoon rush. Why? Because OC-Transpo believes that long treks, from Kanata to downtown, or Barrhaven to downtown, or Orleans to downtown, should be run by one bus from beginning to end of the route. This, I guess, is kind of nice for the commuter (of which I am one occasionally). You don’t have to switch buses. But how efficient is it? How much taxpayers’ money is wasted as a result? In many metropolitan cities, the buses remain in areas and do loops. You transfer at the end of the loop and get on a bus to the next one. In a city like Ottawa, this might be two loops …say, Barrhaven to Baseline or Lincoln Fields, then transfer from there to downtown.

Bus travel simply is not a pleasant endeavour.

So here are my five top reasons why bus travel in Ottawa makes me angry:

5. Timing: It’s a crap shoot whether your bus is going to be on time, late or early. Especially, for some reason, on the afternoon rush time commute. You just have to get their ahead of schedule …and wait (and hope).

4. It’s hot: In the winter, the bus driver, who is wearing a sweater or a light jacket, blasts the heat to keep warm. Hello? We’re wearing coats and the bus is jammed with everyone’s carbon dioxide and body ….eeeuuuww. And in the summer, it’s just always hot.

3. Sardines: During peak hours, we’re packed in like sardines.

2. Seasonal effects: In the winter, the person who is coughing and blowing into a tissue, is always seated beside me. In the summer …well, let’s face. Many people just stink. (And they don’t want people to wear cologne – people with B.O. rejoice!)

1. And the number one reason Mr. Bitterman doesn’t like public transit: The people! Let’s face it. Mr. Bitterman just doesn’t like people. And the teenagers. They should be forced to walk – or shipped off to an island until they’re 21. This all makes me angry.

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