OC Transpo: There are Other Ways to Travel

I need to vent on OC Transpo again. They tick me off so much each and every day —- with their high percentage of downright arseholerish drivers and filthy, falling-apart buses;  with their outrageous expenses for new garages; and with their overall distain for transit riders (let’s ban people with pets, let’s ban people who want to eat or drink on the bus, let’s ban people with strollers, let’s ban people who don’t know where they’re going and ask us stuff or expect us to call out stops, let’s ban old people who can’t get to their seat fast enough, let’s ban people who can’t squeeze through a jam-packed bus to get to the doors before we slam them shut, let’s ban people who aren’t at their bus stops 10 minutes early in case we decide to show up then, let’s just ban all those nasty, smelly people who can’t drive themselves around). I can’t contain the anger for too much longer without doing myself some internal damage.

But I’m not going to rant about all that.

Nor am I going to go off about the fact that fares are increasing as of March 1st. Again. Nevermind that OC Transpo already had the highest cash fares of any major transit service in Canada. Nevermind that they just raised fares by 7.5% in July and that an adult bus pass will now cost $91.50 per month.

And I’m not even going to rant about the fact that in the midst of this fare increase they had the gall to try to cut services to 47 routes – services ranging from cutting the routes altogether to cutting weekend and/or evening services to cutting a percentage of daytime services. Anyway, that proposal didn’t pass. So there’s no point in talking about it. Or is there?

Because OC Transpo has its own way of dealing with thwarted proposals. They may have to keep their schedules the same on paper, but I guess there’s nothing stopping them from just not sending out any buses for the routes they don’t feel like servicing anymore.

Fiendishly clever, eh? I don’t know how many times – especially on Fridays and weekends – I wait for buses that just don’t show up. When I call to complain they always tell me they “had no operator” for that particular run.

I’ve tried to ask them what that means. Was there no one scheduled for that run? Does a guy just not show up for his shift? Did the driver take an unscheduled break without telling anyone? Did the driver just disappear with the bus — maybe taking his girlfriend off for a little priority seating make-out session? Customer Service (as they ironically refer to the woman with the calm, but snarky voice) never has an answer beyond not having had an operator for whatever run I’m complaining about.

Michelle, my work-cubicle neighbour, has been doing battle with OC Transpo over this very issue for over 2 months now. Because of buses just not showing up, her son missed two important medial appointments in December. These appointments cost her $160 each, which she had to pay because she was not able to give the required 24-hour cancellation notice.

Michelle called OC Transpo both times and was given the usual  “no operator” story. She requested a $320 reimbursement for the missed appointments. (Without even factoring in whole issue of her son not getting the medical care he needed because of OC Transpo’s unreliability).

Michelle was told OC Transpo “doesn’t do” reimbursements but she could provide them with times and dates of the no-show buses and they’d make note of it.

In frustration, Michelle contacted CFRA radio and her issue was discussed on the Steve Madley show.  A few minutes after the show aired,  Michelle got a call from OC Transpo saying they would look into the matter further. What a coincidence.

Time passed. A lot of time. Like,  it’s now February. So, last week Michelle emailed CFRA/ Steve Madley again (with a cc to OC Transpo) saying she still has heard nothing back from OC Transpo.  Michelle explained that she has left several voicemail messages over the weeks with her contact person at OC Transpo but had had no response. Shortly after the email was sent, OC Transpo called Michelle. What a coincidence, again. They told her that her son missing his appointments was not their responsibility because (quote):

THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL

Are you, like me, laughing so hard you’re crying? OC Transpo is  basically telling Michelle it’s her own stupid fault for depending on the bus to get around.

Isn’t this a great slogan for a public transit system? Seriously, they should put it on the side of their buses in big letters: OC Transpo: There are other ways to travel.

And while they’re at it, they could add this to their website: Our mission is to actively encourage the use of private vehicles.

Anyway, after some further discussion, OC Transpo grudgingly offered Michelle a one-month free bus pass.  Now, probably after another fare hike or two, a one-month bus pass will be worth the $320 and whatever consequences Michelle’s son has suffered because of the missed appointments, but for now she told them to stick their one-month free bus pass. She’s holding out for some sincere restitution.

___________________________________

PS:  Michelle knows I am blogging about this and wholeheartedly supports me sharing her story.

 

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81 responses to “OC Transpo: There are Other Ways to Travel

  1. That’s really awful … the whole situation. Feeling like you have no options and no recourse to get the situation resolved. You summed it all up perfectly in your opening paragraph, XUP. One of the proposed cuts was a bus my spouse takes to work in the morning, so we’ve been following the story w/ interest. I haven’t heard about buses not showing up … yet.

    Have you seen/read about the ongoing upset w/ the TTC in Toronto? The public taking photos of operators sleeping on the job and other things that are not good.

  2. far far away and long ago there was a public official in New York called Robert Moses. He engineered some of the most infamous projects to ever be foisted on the public. The cross Bronx expressway being just one of them which literally cut a swath through the middle of the city putting thousands of people out of apartments to speed cars adn transportation on it’s way.
    All over Long Island which has a major mix of industry, small business and of course huge palatial homes and fine beaches he engineered Parkways to aid in the distribution of the rich to their posh neighborhoods but to make sure there was not too many lesser individuals cluttering up the beaches he made sure the overpasses and bridges were so low buses couldn’t pass them.
    It seems that our public servants still feel much the same about anyone lowly enough to be dependent on mass transit.
    As I have said before the only solution to this is to complain and then when unsatisfied move up the chain of command. Manager, general manager, Head of the commission, alderman, mayor, mpp, mp Pm Queen of frickin Canada till you get a response.
    Unfortunately some of the users probably have a life to live and wages to earn and children to care for that limit the amount of time they can pursue these things but see about forming a group and getting some people elected/ appointed to the commission itself.

  3. I was going to mention the TTC as well – they blamed the public for taking photos of their workers not actually working, and are now in attack mode towards everyone else. The “Better Way” is now the “Bitter Way”.

  4. Olivia – The buses not showing up has been an ongoing thing for as long as I’ve lived here – I just figure they’ll bump that process up a bit to make up for all the routes they wanted to cut. I haven’t been following the TTC saga much. I’ve been too busy following our own transit shenanigans. Do you read the OC Transpo Live Journal? There are some fun stories there from riders.

    Dave – Well, riders coming out in force to public meetings to complain about the proposed route cuts stopped that from happening. But OC Transpo will do doubt find a way to get us back for that one. One of the problems is that there are actually a lot of citizens who see no benefit to a public transit system and resent that some of their taxes go to support it. I’ve had people in my own workplace tell me that since they have to pay for their own cars, bus riders should have to foot the bill for having buses.

    Violetsky – Ya, this is worrisome because drivers have a thousand and one malicious little ways of making life difficult for transit riders. And they do. Because they have a lot of people over a barrel. If that’s the transportation method you depend on, you have to suck it all up.

    Geewits – You said it, baby. If my daughter and her friends are bussing somewhere I always insist on her getting home early because I don’t want her stranded late at night in some weird part of town. Because when a bus decides not to show up at 10:00 pm, she could be standing out there for an hour waiting for the next one.

    Stefania – It’s mind-bogglingly ridiculous. When Michelle got off the phone yesterday with OC Transpo and told me what they’d said, right away I thought “I have to blog this. It’s soooo absurd.”

  5. And here I thought it was bad in Montreal. Basically, you can’t live without a car in Ottawa. That’s just so wrong on so many levels

  6. “OC Transpo: Here for your maximum inconvenience and to milk as much of your hard earned cash as possible all while bitching about how much we hate you all!”

    Sound like a good logo?

  7. This post is just so dead ON. I’m still fairly new to Ottawa (having lived in Vancouver and Toronto) and I am pretty disappointed by the lack if bus service at times. It’s infuriating that they would say “there are other ways to travel…” may I suggest we make some tee-shirts with the OCTranspo logo and this phrase underneath? Oh but then it would be taken another way. Maybe, OCTranspo: We’ll Get Yo You Eventually? OCTranspo: 3$ Will Get You There 30 Minutes Late? OCTranspo: The Angry People’s Ride? OCTranspo: Putting People Into Cars Since 1973?

    I could go on.

  8. I had no idea they were raising fares AGAIN. I thought it was incredible that they raised the ticket price in July by FIFTEEN PERCENT after the giant cluster F that the strike caused in the winter. And now again less than a year later? How, in less than a year, does can they justify raising the ticket price by 50 cents?! I certainly haven’t seen a proportionate rate of increased service.

    I use tickets because I am lucky enough to be able to carpool most days with my boyfriend. And I can’t afford a bus pass (and after March 1st I REALLY won’t be able to.)

    I can’t believe how mad this has post made me. FUMING.

  9. PBS just had a show on about public transport in Detroit. It was very good.

    They have resorted to churches buying mini vans and driving people around.

    They had the most extensive street rail system in the world! And now they have none.

    I’d love to take the bus to work. Right now its a 15 minute car ride. By bus? One hour and 10 minutes if everything runs on time, and that is with TWO transfers. I live in a city of 83,000 people. How does that make sense.

    Eyeteaguy

  10. Pauline – Ha ha. Maybe a little wordy, but definitely captures the spirit of this “public service”

    Kim – Ya, that’s actually $3.25 in a couple of weeks! We should be ashamed – as the capital city of Canada – to have such an abysmal public transportation system. It’s doubly shaming when people from other cities are horrified by it.

    Zoom – Thank you ma’am. I’m looking forward to your post today, too.

    Meagan – No, the service decreases in direct proportion to the fare increases. And think how fuming mad all the poor suckers who have to take the bus every day must be. It makes my head explode some days, it really does.

    Eyeteaguy – When we first moved here, we’d use the OC Transpo online trip planner so that we could figure out how to get places since we didn’t know our way around. Eventually we figured out that the places that were taking 2 transfers and almost an hour to get to by bus were just around the corner within walking distance – a long walk, but still doable and in less time. We still laugh about that sometimes – “Remember when we used to bus here? Bwah-ha ha. We were so stupid.”

  11. I have to say that story is pretty awful.

    However I have generally had only happy experiences with OCtranspo (except of course the bus strike, which is a whole other issue…)

    It gets me where I want to go, and although there are some pains in relying on other for transit I am generally pretty happy.

    The fares are indeed way too high (I can afford them though)..

    I came from a prairie city, if you want shitty bus service you should see what it’s like there, or in the U.S. where busses are seen and recognized by all as for the poor only.

    Ottawa has a fairly high percentage of transit riders and I have to say that despite minor grumblings I haven’t had any real problems in the 10 years I’ve lived here.

    That being said:saying “There are other ways to travel” and not responding to her complaint is awful.

  12. Oh don’t get me started on OC Transpo. I tried to have respect for them when I first got here, but I see just how poorly managed they are. They could be so much better, but I don’t think that will ever happen.

  13. I had no idea this was going on…I’m enraged. This whole “no operator” thing is INSANE. Thanks for writing about this, I intend to write to my rep about it.

  14. Ken – Time for something for sure. Thing about public transit is that it costs a lot of money and the majority of the population doesn’t care about it. So, it’s a non-starter for politicians. The management of the system can pretty much do what they want because the only people (in this city) who ride buses are the ones who really have no other choice. Under those circumstances it’s unlikely to get any better.

    Friar – She listens to Steve every morning. But she reads this blog, too, so maybe she’ll call this Lowell Green fellow next.

    Justin – Buses in Ottawa are pretty much for the poor only, too – especially weekends and evenings. During the week you get the downtown government crowd and school kids but that’s about it. I’d be interested to know which routes you take. I reckon if you’re on the transitway you don’t have too many problems, but if you have to transfer a lot or ride not during commuting hours, I’d be surprised if your experiences were as good. And if things are so good and there are so many people using the system, why do they want to cut so many services and why do we have to have 2 fare hikes in one year?

    Chris – Go ahead…get started on OC Transpo. That’s what this post is all about. If a city can’t move it’s people around in a fast, efficient, cost-effective manner then the whole urban infrastructrue suffers – residents, commuters, business, industry, arts & culture, sports & recreation, etc., etc.

    Lynn – You go girl! If you manage to find out where all these operators disappear to, please let me know.

  15. You’re right that I’m on the transitway, but I still had to take the bus to Carleton for quite a while, and it involved some of the more local buses.

    I’m not saying everything is perfect, and by all means I think it could get better, but compared to other smaller cities it’s not as bad as these complaints make it out to be.
    (the price hikes are ridiculous, though I have to say if you can afford it, getting an annual pass saves you money and you avoid fare hikes. I was always surprised that more people didn’t take advantage, though I realize not everyone has the close to $800 to pay for it upfront, but you get 2 months free that way)

    I’d never heard of these “no operator” moments, though I’ve had it happen to me.

    Next time I’ll be phoning OC transpo about it!

  16. OC Transpo – unofficial rules of engagement
    1) Do not expect your local bus to show up at your stop on Friday mornings. Operators get sick then and are not replaced. Don’t blame OC Transpo.
    THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL
    2) Do expect the operator to lurch forward or brake hard just as you are grabbing a pole for support. This is especially certain if you have heavy bags, aren’t a WASP, are elderly or with a child or are disabled.
    THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL
    3) Don’t expect transit stops to be cleared of snow in the winter. The operator will move the bus forward over your sorry body if you have audacity to slip off the snowbank and under the bus.
    THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL
    4) Do expect the operator to treat you like an inconvenience.
    THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL
    5) Do expect the union to go on strike again in, say another year.
    THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL

    Am I missing anything?

  17. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say the car drivers don”t care about the bus passengers. For decades now the only consistent solution our governments have offered for congestion is to pave new lanes.
    Some day someone is going to realize there is a better way and that the entire city, cities will be better in nearly every way with efficient useful mass transit. Maybe even stevie after he finishes helping all the women and children in the world.

    Oh and by the way I worked for GM which was instrumental in screwing up transit systems in Detroit and many other large American cities as a way to help sell more cars. Just one more reason to be proud of the heartbeat of America.

  18. Wow. Those fare hikes are something else. I know that well enough. I don’t even think they raise the fares that often in Toronto (well, I could be wrong).

    I eat & drink on the bus anyway. Some rules are meant to be broken. It’s a silly rule.

  19. Justin – Saying there are shittier transit systems in smaller cities doesn’t make it okay for the nation’s capital to have a dysfunctional transit system. And I completely believe you that you’ve had no real problems scooting along the transitway, why don’t you believe that a whole bunch of other people have legitimate complaints about the system? The annual pass is now going to cost $1164.00 by the way. Sooner or later even you are going to absorb that fare hike.

    Trashy – If we’re making a list, I think I could add at least a dozen more, but you’ve got a good one going to far. And I’m liking the use of the new slogan!

    Dave – Yup, it was those damn auto companies who build North American suburbia and super highways and big box stores. Once gas and oil prices become really unaffordable, I reckon someone will get the bright idea to come up with some sort of transportation mode that will carry a lot more people, further and for less money than a car.

    Nathan – There isn’t an actual no eating/drinking rule yet. They want one though. If people clean up after themselves it shouldn’t be a problem. The other day I watched this young guy impress his girlfriend by eating pistachio nuts in the doorway of the bus and dropping all the shells and a few of the nuts at his feet. That was soooo hilarious, especially when people getting on or off the bus started slipping on them. Some people are pigs and ruin it for everyone. But that’s a whole other post.

  20. When we moved here from TO the real estate agents, coworkers, etc. all bragged about Ottawa’s great transit system. (?) So I am shocked by your story. “There are other ways to travel” is disgusting. Your co-workers story is appalling too. The only good/efficient transit system I have been on was years ago at Disney. Perhaps Mickey and Minnie can come in to fix our problems.:) Great post.

  21. Just to give you an idea of how crappy the TTC became after the last debacle (One was the TTC toll booth napper, and a second was a video of a late night bus driver pulling over at a coffee shop for 7 minutes) the first reply was that people shouldn’t be photographing TTC employees and posting the pictures and videos online.
    Then the TTC employees opened a facebook group :
    http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=toronto+transit+commision&init=quick#!/group.php?gid=289985708323&ref=mf
    “Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment” hmmmm makes you wonder who really feels empowered here eh?

  22. Wait, did they actually pass the ban on eating on the bus? I remember back in ’99 when they allowed it after some diabetic people complained (or similar).

    As for “there are other ways to travel”– that’s why they have car ads plastered all over their buses, isn’t it?

    – RG>

  23. That story about your friend and her son is horrible.

    I hate OC Transpo and chose to pay significantly more for my condo so that I would be able to walk to work, but I realize that other people might not have that option.

    I even hate driving close to a bus, since I can’t count the number of times one of those drivers has turned into my lane without looking. Having the right of way shouldn’t mean you get to move ONTO the car beside you.

    Maybe Ottawa users should start a campaign like the one in Toronto.

  24. MM – When people brag about OCT they’re usually only looking at the transitway and the O-train, both of which, I will concede are pretty cool. A highway just for busses that hits a lot of the important points in and around the city is great. Things get really bogged down in the downtown core and the busses can be really packed in rush hours and a lot of the transitway stations are insanely disorganized, chaotic and all-around horrible, but other than that you can move pretty quickly on the transitway and there are busses pretty much all the time. PLUS, you can get to the train station and the airport by bus, which is a really important plus for any city’s transit system. The O-train is amazing – comfortable, quick, no drivers to deal with. Unfortunately it doesn’t go anywhere – just a little experimental strip which seems to be used mainly by Carleton students, but still a great concept. So that’s it for the plusses. If you happen to live by a transitway stop you have no worries. However, a big chunk of the population doesn’t and this is where the transit system breaks down – literally and figuratively.

    Lebowski – Ya, someone else mentioned that. The best defence is a good offence, right?

    Grouchy – No there hasn’t been a ban on eating yet, I was just stating it as one of the things they have stated they want to ban – along with some things I suspect they secretly want to ban. Of course! The car ads. Perhaps they need to be a bit more overt with their advertising. The message just doesn’t seem to be getting out there.

    Lesterbee – I would move downtown in an instant if we weren’t so handy to my kid’s school at the moment. Imagine a life of not having to take the bus every day …

    Jennifer – Did they? Do you recall any details – because that would be interesting for her to know about.

  25. This is my last comment on this. I think this anger is good, I hope that someone would listen and start fixing the problems!

    I believe other people have difficulties. I’m just saying I never have, and I’ve taken the bus all the time since I moved here 10 years ago.

    I will grant that as a student it was close to the university which they do fairly well (it got better over the course of my time there due to some route changes ) and the transitway.

    Anyways thanks for getting a conversation started about this!

  26. Ken – Ha! Kewl Beenz. How you done that?

    Justin – Yes, as I said to Mindful Merchant above – the transitway is pretty good, (though there are some issues with the chaos at some of the stations and the overcrowding on a lot of the peak runs) so is the O Train as far as it goes. If we look at only those two factions, it’s not a bad transit system. Unfortunately not too many people live near a transitway station so they have to get there via other buses which are pretty much a disaster

  27. OC Transpo is utterly ridiculous. Is it any wonder why no one gives up driving for the greener method of commute? I mean, who needs the aggro?

  28. Ken – Ah yes.

    Sky – I guess it never occurs to them to provide a better service in order to attract more customers. Too archaic, perhaps.

  29. It all makes me want to learn how to drive. I have been stranded countless times by no-show drivers. This is often followed by another favourite trick, the full-bus-drive-past (#7 anyone?).

    There are a few really charming, friendly drivers, and I’ve noticed a big improvement in calling out stops. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of bitter, humourless drivers ill-suited for working with or near other humans.

    I’m all for the ban on eating & drinking, though. I’m inevitably sitting on the 7:55 when it starts to fill up with people holding giant cups of Timmie’s over my lap as the bus lurches around. And then there’s the stop in front of the chip wagon on Bronson; there always seems to be someone who hasn’t washed in awhile hoisting a massive smelly poutine onto the bus and then slurping and gobbling it in the front see for everyone to see. I’m begging you, please stop.

  30. Rachelle – Ya, those giant Tim cups can be scary. When I lived in Halifax they banned eating and drinking on the bus and no one died of starvation or dehydration. I don’t think it’s really necessary to have your meals on a bus. In fact, I think it’s a rather revolting place to eat. And it stinks things up and people leave their mess behind – not to mention spills. The only thing I’ve ever consumed on a bus is some water from my water bottle.

  31. Incompetent management, all-powerful unions, and cash strapped local government all add up to a failing system. Seeing as LG have limits to the amount of cash they can extract from the system this leaves only the first two elements ripe for change. Shiny new depots? Absurd! Massive paychecks for unskilled labour? Ridiculous!

    Unless we put the unnecessary capital projects on hold and give drivers and other staff a 20+% haircut the system will continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future. Less stupid spending + less pay/driver = more drivers + better bus service. Unfortunately, simple math + common sense = management denial + union backlash.

    The day of reckoning will only come when the public stands up for its rights and faces down those responsible for this dire situation. I’d say that day wasn’t too far off.

  32. Where I live I can walk to work downtown in about 25 minutes. Or I can take a bus, and the most direct route (which includes TWO transfers) will take me 35 minutes. That’s not right!

    (BTW, the first bus I take stops half a block away from my front door. So it’s not about walking time – it’s about slow routes and waiting to transfer).

  33. OC Transpo will soon ban passengers. This will allow then to reduce the number of complaints. Besides, all the bus drivers will soon be at the private gym located in the new 100 million dollar garage.

  34. JC – I don’t think it’s going to happen in Ottawa – our transit rider demographics aren’t the sort of people to stand up for themselves or cause a fuss — not like the TTC rider demographics at all.

    S&S – Same here. There are quite a few places that are just quicker to walk to than to hang around hoping a bus might show up.

    Jennifer – Thanks. Like I said to JC, I think your ridership is a little different than Ottawa’s, too. I hope he gets some satisfaction!

    Steve – It’s really the only solution that will make OC Transpo happy. Those nasty old passengers really make life difficult for drivers.

  35. Interestingly, my friend was able to get her Sens ticket reimbursed when one of the 400 buses zoomed past her scheduled stop. So – they will do reimbursements under some conditions.

  36. I’d use public transit if it was reliable and could get me where I want to go in a reasonable period of time in at least semi-comfort.

    Reliable means that because I live on a bus route, I expect the bus to actually show up, and do so on time. The primary reason I don’t ride the bus now is that despite living on a route with a 20 minute schedule, it’s possible to stand out in the cold for an hour while buses skip our route. Doing so makes me miss meetings and generally gets me in trouble. Ergo, no OC transpo for me. I could, of course walk out to some other bus stop, but if I’m going to have to walk 10 minutes to a more reliable stop, I can drive and be where I need to be in 15, so again, why use OC Transpo?

    Cost is a factor as well. If I work downtown and can carpool with one other person, the cost of parking approaches that of a bus pass for each person. The added convenience (and reliability) of driving is worth the small difference.

    Efficiency is a huge factor. When I worked in Gatineau, the shortest bus trip from my house to my office was 2 hours, or 45 minutes with a half-hour walk. Anyone who thinks that’s reasonable for a 10 km trip needs their head examined. I refuse to spend 4 hours a day commuting, or 90 minutes plus an hour in the cold – and paying for the privilege, when I can drive to the same place in 20 minutes. When I worked in Kanata, it was 140 minutes each way, assuming I made every connection. I couldn’t carry enough newspapers to occupy the time.

    I used to live in Vancouver, and Victoria, and I used to live near Montreal. I’ve also lived in Chicago, and near Toronto. I spent a month in Caracas and many weeks in London. I’ve seen good public transit systems, and I use them. But OC Transpo, despite winning awards, is the absolute worst transit system I’ve seen (this really causes me to question the value of these “awards”). Even little Kingston has a more efficient transit system (or did, when I lived there). Even Manchester, UK has a subway. Notice too, that all those cities I mentioned except Kingston and Victoria have a rail system of some description.

  37. PG – That IS interesting. I’ll have to let Michelle know. Thanks

    Squid – I’ve lived in a few places too — not as many as you – but totally agree that this is the worst transit system I’ve ever had to live with. If Ottawa is winning awards I dont’ know what for. The transitway perhaps — imagine an entire highway only for buses? it sounds brilliant on paper and if you live right on the transitway and only have to go places that are right on the transitway, I think you’d think we have a pretty good system, except for the massive overcrowding issues. OR if you get to take the O Train from your front door to the front door of your office every day — well that would be super cool. Everyone else is screwed

  38. I’ve been riding around on OC buses and find it works quite well, even when I am not driving. What is your largest concern for ineffective bus service?

  39. >>What is your largest concern for ineffective bus service?

    There are two primary concerns that I have regarding ineffective bus service.

    1. as mentioned above, it is manifestly unreliable if you don’t happen to live within 5 minutes of the Transitway. I live on a bus route with 20 minute service, and (especially in the winter), I’m lucky to see 2 buses an hour in the morning. Buses regularly not showing up at the appointed time can only be described as ineffective bus service.

    2. Unless you are going from the outskirts to downtown, OCTranspo offers embarrasingly long commute times. Perhaps 40 years ago people all lived on the edges of town and worked downtown, but that hasn’t been the case since I moved to Ottawa in 1988. In effect, you can’t get from point A to point B in Ottawa unless point B is always the intersection of Elgin and Laurier. Hours to get from anywhere to Kanata is very much ineffective as it demonstrates OC Transpo’s complete disregard for the changing demographics of the public it is supposed to serve. Hours to get to government offices on the Gatineau side is ineffective and inappropriate for a national capital.

  40. So many different issues to discuss and so little time . . . . There is a very good reason why buses don’t appear to show up sometimes. In the morning, assignment of spare drivers to bus routes is bordering on a nightmare of inefficiency. Each route has a planned departure time (from the garage) and as long as the bus leaves the garage on time it will most likely arrive at the first stop on time. HOWEVER, if the re-assignment of the route to a spare driver is not performed efficiently, the driver cannot possibly start the run on time. Next to that, sometimes there are not enough drivers to cover all the runs for which a driver has called in sick, has died, or has a planned absence for a doctor/dentist/cat scan/whatever appointment. If there is no driver, there won’t be a bus running for the corresponding time slot. Also, if there is a driver and there are no buses available (maintenance issues) then the result is the same, no bus. Running late just makes it appear the bus never showed up.
    * * * * *
    next up, the efficiency angle for serving all of Ottawa effectively . . . after doing a little bit of research on this one, I discovered certain parts of Ottawa don’t want bus service. Okay, leave them out, what about the parts of Ottawa that want service, but the service is 20 minutes apart.
    The “one bus running from one end of the city to the other” approach may be about to die. Some say there is a new approach coming (soon). Some call it the hub and spoke plan. The hubs MIGHT be routes going back and forth along parts of the transitway, the spokes would be routes connecting to the hub. Cycle the spokes faster for over all faster service and adjust the hubs as necessary. The real trouble comes up when people disagree about how often service is required on a spoke.
    If a bus covers a route once each 5 minutes and only picks up 1 customer, maybe running every 10 minutes would be better. However if every 10 still only gets 1 customer, then what do you do? Drop to once each 15 or 20 minutes, right? THEN when a bus is missing, break down or missing driver, service drops to 1 in 30 or 40 minutes.
    * * *
    in short, there is no service plan that will make everyone happy all the time, but I agree, finding a plan to make the majority, of the people who choose to use the bus, happy is very important.
    *****
    In my opinion the customers need to start showing up at the transit committee meetings and make some very POLITE noise.

  41. OCDriver – The issue of buses not showing up is what prompted this post and yes, I realize there could be a million reasons why there is no bus, but it just shouldn’t happen or at least only happen very, very rarely under exceptional circumstances — not on a regular basis. I can’t even tell you how many times a bus hasn’t shown up. I usually call customer service and they make a note of it, they tell me. It’s obviously very poor planning, scheduling and organizing.

    My other issues include other reliability concerns -buses that show up and leave early; buses that drive right by you because they don’t see you standing on the side of the road waving madly at them or maybe they just can’t be bothered stopping again (I don’t know); drivers that don’t seem to know how to drive – I had one guy the other day who pumped the gas peddle throughout the entire 20 minute trip so we were jerking along. I don’t know if that was a bus issue or a driver issue, but it was very unpleasant; buses that aren’t able to cope with a little snow and an incline at the same time (it’s Ottawa after all); drivers who are just rude and refuse to answer a question for you or won’t call out stops or won’t stop for you unless you’re right underneath the bus stop sign; buses that are filthy, leaky, too hot or too cold; buses that are overcrowded and still keep taking more people and then won’t stop long enough at stops to give people a chance to wade through the crowds and make it to the doors. I don’t know what other stations are like, but the Hurdman Station is a nightmare of inefficiency – buses lined up to get to their area, near accidents, people running, pushing, falling down. The whole city is poorly planned so I’m not surprised that the transit system doesn’t work. As Squid said, the O Train is great for the short distance it goes and the Transitway is not bad as far as scheduling goes, but if you don’t live right on either of those lines or need to go somewhere other than on those lines, it’s ridiculous. A #8 bus that takes an hour to get from Gatineau to Billings Bridge? Who planned that?

    And now we’re having another fare increase. Do you think this is making people happy? What gives you the idea that the majority of transit users are happy? Because they’re not complaining? We don’t have the same demographic of riders as Toronto does. And the attitude in Ottawa is basically that buses are for poor people and tax dollars shouldn’t have to support transport for poor people. It’s typical of the short-sightedness of the politicians and the majority of citizens in this city.

  42. @ OCDriver – while I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are NOT one of those operators on “out of service” vehicles who speed up through the Transitway stations in order to get the full splash affect and soak those waiting for their bus.

    Nor are you one of those who intentionally ignore those riders who are desperately waving at you to wait just 5 more seconds before you pull away from the curb.

    I will also assume that you are kind, treat all riders with courtesy and don’t try to play “let’s watch the dominoes fall down” while driving a standing room only bus and repeatedly hit the brakes.

    Nope – I’m assuming you are the exception to the rule and are not what I have experienceded time and time again in my 11 years on OCTranspo. There are those of you like that, and I have complimented as well as complained.

    However, for you to say “In my opinion the customers need to start showing up at the transit committee meetings and make some very POLITE noise.” you are out of line.

    The riders in this City are way beyond politeness due to not only the points that XUP and others have raised, but because of that little period of time last year when we, your customers, had figger out another way to work in a City that was built upon the assumption that OCTranspo would serve as the main transportation system. I’m not only blaming the Union for the crap that we had to suffer through in the winter of 2008/09, but the City as well.

    Your request for POLITE noise will be granted when the customers who support OCTranspo drivers are treated in kind by the Union and by City Management.

  43. First off, the best place to complain is the City of Ottawa Transit Committee (or is it transportation committee) as you would be talking directly to the people with the most influence (imho).
    Now if you go there an fail to complaint politely, do you really think they will take you seriously and have an interest in helping you?
    The Transit Committee is NOT OC Transpo, they are policy makers, etcetera, so there is no real connection between the Transit Committee and the drivers of the buses. Thus my recommendation of talking politely to the Transit Committee stands.
    —-
    then again, if you simply enjoy complaining without being taken seriously or without getting the results you desire, feel free to attend the committee meetings and be rude.

  44. OC Driver I don’t think anyone is saying that they expect OC Transpo to be perfect but if all public systems of public travel functioned like OC Transpo we would be in terrible shape. I cannot imagine going to the airport and not have the plane show up at all or for it to show up and just leave me there. Or imagine VIA Rail doing the same thing? Blowing their whistle as they pass by the station.

    We would like to think that since we pay taxes for this system we could rely on it to get us around. On time. For it not to be able to do so that tells me that it is ineffective, unreliable and perhaps poorly managed.

    Yet, they continue to increase fees while the quality of services diminishes.

    I am the person referred to in this initial blog and it was my son who had to pay the $320.00 out of his pocket for missed Dr’s appointments (no health care coverage) because OC Transpo cannot run it’s business effectively. Employees being out sick, not having enough buses are these not issues that should be planned for prior to them occurring? Do you not have an emergency plan in place should there be a fire? Having contingency plans in place for these events is called common sense business. If day in and day out they realize that they have a high rate of employee absenteeism for “whatever” reason, should they not come up with a solution/s?

    It’s simple! OC Transpo is not being run effectively and those who MUST rely on you the most are the ones getting f#@%$*#.

    What I cannot for the life of me understand is when my son was at the bus stop in our neighborhood waiting for the bus, it passed by him. That little incident was one of the two that cost him $160.00. Before you ask, the bus had very few people on it and this was early afternoon.

    To those who have been following this blog OC Transpo came back to us offering a free bus pass for one month as reimbursement for the $320.00 my son had to pay. I asked them if they could make it 4 months and the deal would be closed. That would be closer to what he paid out. They in turn responded, for the first time via email and said “OC Transpo does not reimburse financial loss nor issue refunds for missed or late trips. Alternate service refers to the subsequent trips or other service available…” I am infuriated at their wipe your hands clean approach. What are those who have appointments and rely on this transit system supposed to do? Should we confer with OC Transpo before we schedule things in our lives to see if we will be able to make it there on time? BTW……there are no alternate bus routes available in our area that would have gotten my son to his appointment on time. The discussion between OC Transpo and I ended there.
    I have escalated my request for my son to be reimbursed on to my council person and received notice this morning that he Mr. Bellemare has sent it on to the Transit Services General Manager for review. This was my next option after OC Transpo came back offering a free bus pass for one month as reimbursement for the $320.00 my son had to pay out. I shall keep you posted.

    And to OC Transpo, you are correct in that we do need to start showing up at transit committee meetings and making noise because it is absolutely ridiculous that we have a transit system that cannot be relied on.

  45. OC Driver, I appreciate your comments, and I hope people take them in the spirit I think they were intended, namely to inform (not necessarily defend) on why things appear certain ways. Of course the problem remains that operations on the whole look shabby from the end-user’s standpoint, even if there are good reasons on the back end for things being that way.

    I totally agree with you (and disagree with Trashy) that more people need to submit input to the Transit Committee (Transportation Committee deals with non-transit issues), as it is these elected members of City Council who decide policies for our transit system. These people are directly accountable to us, which was not the case with the former arm’s-length commission.

    If all we do is complain amongst ourselves on our blogs (politely or not), it’s not going to reach the people who are ultimately in charge of Transit in Ottawa. “They’re doing a bad job so I’m going to ignore them until they start doing things the way I like” is not a very constructive strategy, Trashy.

    OC Transpo as a whole has a reputation of not being very customer-oriented, and I think the original post–describing OC Transpo’s response to salayna’s complaint–reinforces this bad reputation, despite all the good drivers. It’s a perpetually uphill battle.

    – RG>

  46. Transit Committee, I had a link for them somewhere…. well just do a google on “Ottawa Transit Committee” and you will find the names of the members. Last meeting was February 17, 2010, at 9:30 am. Which means most of us would be working when the meetings are held, BUT that doesn’t stop you from chasing your Councillor for answers.

    Do I disagree the management of the service is in need of repair? No. However taking your anger out on the drivers isn’t going to get you better service. There are many drivers who are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. If you pummel them, guess what, pretty soon they give up and join the other drivers who are not so customer service oriented. (had you considered that?)

    I call out stops, I wait for running passengers, but then if I never pulled away from the station because I keep waiting for running passengers, who are LATE, then eventually the people on my bus are unhappy because I am waiting for running customers. I can even get into “trouble” with passengers for calling out stops. I heard “I’m trying to sleep back here.” after calling out stops for people who don’t need to know because I was basically only picking up customers who I would eventually drop off in 30 minutes at the other end of the route.

    My point is, look at the bigger picture and try very hard not to take it out on the driver. Do you really think I will forget you if you give me a hard time? Do you think I will wait for you if you are late and I remember you gave me a hard time? In my case I probably will wait, but if you ruffle my feathers often enough, eventually I *might* behave like a child and leave you behind.

  47. Bus Stops, and where we choose to stop.

    Did you know the sign post is a general guide to where we stop and NOT “the stop”?

    At certain times I am thinking about how I might loose a mirror if I pull in tight to where you are standing, so I slide a little further past you and then tuck into the curb. At other times I am thinking about where the customer at the back of the bus will end up when they depart the bus, depending upon where I stop.

    In short, the bus stop sign post is a guide, not an exact place for a bus to stop. Different buses have different challenges, some can’t do what others can.

    Oh yes, PLEASE WAVE when you want us to stop. If you just stand there I won’t think you want me to stop. Oh yes, and from what I recall, we were told you will wave when you want us, so if you don’t wave we think you don’t want us to stop.

  48. OC Driver – Thank you for the information about the Transit Committee. And you and Grouchy are right that griping about things in blogs isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. I also want you to know that I do not take my anger out at drivers and will be polite to a driver until or unless he acts like a jerk. I’m still not going to pummel him, but I won’t be saying hello or thank you anymore, either. I’ve had a driver refuse to open his door for me even though he was standing still waiting for the bus ahead of him to start moving. And the bus wasn’t full. And yes I didn’t get there in time before he closed his door because I was fighting my way through the chaos at Hurdman. And I’ve seen it happen quite often to other people. Stuff like that is just not necessary. The people who tell you to shut up because they’re sleeping are just rude.

    As for the waving thing at the bus stop, I don’t think it’s been communicated to the riding public that they have to wave down a bus even if they’re standing at a bus stop. Are there a lot of people who just hang around bus stops who have no intention of taking a bus? And how do you tell the difference between someone waving because they want you to stop and someone waving because they’re waving you on, waiting for another bus?

    Anyway, all these sorts of things are pretty much beside the point. The major issue is that the service is unreliable. Maybe management doesn’t realize that some people actually depend quite heavily on the bus for some pretty important stuff — to get them to work on time, to job interviews, to meetings with probation officers, to medical appointments, etc. There can be serious consequences if they don’t get to where they have to be on time, sometimes. They can’t just tell people “There are other ways to travel” Do you think if I had another way to travel I would depend on the bus to take me somewhere important? I think we’re all agreeing that there are some big time problems in that department and I will take your suggestion and put this forward to my councillor and/or the Transit Committee.

  49. XUP wrote:
    “As for the waving thing at the bus stop, I don’t think it’s been communicated to the riding public that they have to wave down a bus even if they’re standing at a bus stop. Are there a lot of people who just hang around bus stops who have no intention of taking a bus? And how do you tell the difference between someone waving because they want you to stop and someone waving because they’re waving you on, waiting for another bus?”
    —-
    Many bus stops have more than one bus route on the sign. If you are standing there are you waiting for my bus or another bus? Hailing a bus is supposed to be the same as hailing a cab. Hold you hand up high as the bus approaches. I mentioned the fact this does not seem to be well known by our customers at a recent OC Transpo Management meeting with all OC Transpo employees.
    Regarding people standing around and bus stops who are not waiting for buses. Trust me, there are lots of people standing near bus stops who certainly don’t want the bus I am driving. I generally don’t ask them why they are standing at the bus stop . . . . maybe they don’t know they are standing at a bus stop. :o)

  50. OC Driver – Ha ha. Hailing a cab??? You can hail a cab in Ottawa? How? Where? Are the cab drivers aware of this? Does anyone else know about these city slicker notions of yours?

  51. Heya – didn’t mean that we riders shouldn’t use appropriate channels to voice our problems. I have – through my Councillor – and will continue to do so. I have many emails that I am more than happy to provide as support.
    I’m just pissed with the polite modes of expression because they aren’t getting us anywhere.
    Transit-service-has-not-improved. Get that? And it has in fact deteriorated over the many years that I have been on the buses.
    As for “Hold you hand up high as the bus approaches.”
    Come on! Really! I have been at stops where some dude is waving both of his arms for the bus to stop and said bus merrily drives by… don’t insult us.
    And I have to ask: and this is as a courtesy to you: have you been cleared as a spokesperson for OCTranspo or the Union? I ask this because expressing your view while identifying yourself as a driver could land you in some trouble.
    Just asking. Be careful, brother/sister.

  52. Re: Hold Hand Up High

    I’m just telling you it makes it easier for a driver to know you want the bus if you do this. What each driver does with this information is not something I can control.

    Re: spokesperson?

    I’m just telling you what I have seen, what I was trained to do, etc. I would tell you the same if you were standing up front talking to me. No, I am not in any way an official spokesperson.

    Have you met any drivers you really felt served you beyond your expectations? When it happened, what did you do? A driver can get in trouble so many different ways, but there is only one way to really compliment a driver. Take down the bus number (and maybe the driver’s operator number) and call in a COMPLIMENT.

    I know of a driver who picks up customers when he is out of service, especially on really cold days/nights. As far as I know, they never got so much as one compliment for their efforts. Everyone is quick to complain, but they forget this does damage over time. Eventually the driver picking up customers when out of service might stop doing that all together.

  53. Trashy – Ya, I can see some issues with the hand waving thing. Like I mentioned a while back people often use the hand wave to wave the driver on indicating that they’re waiting for another bus. The website actually says “At a stop that serves more than one route, hand-signal the approaching bus you wish to stop so that the driver knows you wish to board.”

    OC Driver – Actually once during a really serious snow/wind storm I was leaving work and walking down Riverside Drive and an “out of service” bus stopped and offered me a ride. I thought that was pretty cool. I declined because I was almost at my destination anyway. I did thank him, but didn’t get a chance to get his number because I was so shocked and confused.

  54. >>In the morning, assignment of spare drivers to bus routes is bordering on a nightmare of inefficiency.

    That should not be my problem. The reason why OCTranspo cannot fulfill its published commitments doesn’t change the fact that the service is unreliable, and therefore not something I can use.

    >>Running late just makes it appear the bus never showed up.

    No. Running late makes it appear that the 07:30 bus shows up at 07:40. Running late does not make it appear that the 07:30 bus doesn’t show up, the 07:50 bus doesn’t show up and the 08:10 bus shows up at 08:25.

    Sick drivers, etc. should not cause routes to be cancelled. If it does, then OCTranspo is not doing it’s job. It demonstrates managerial incompetence at all levels – including the union – if it is the case that a few people calling in sick cause routes to be missed. In most lines of work, people would be fired if sick calls regularly caused work to be done and customers to be left out in the cold.

    >>In my opinion the customers need to start showing up at the transit committee meetings and make some very POLITE noise.

    People have been on about this for the full 22+ years I’ve lived here, and they get ignored. OCTranspo wins AWARDS for it’s alleged awesomeness, and yet in 22 years I’ve never met a single person who thinks that OCTranspo is any better than mediocre, and most opinions come in substantially lower than that.

    Complaints about buses not showing up on time, skipping stops, not showing up at all, rude drivers, slow commute times are well document and of sufficient volume to make media coverage. Once again, the complete inability of OCTranspo to address these issues in nearly a quarter century speaks volumes. People have gone through entire careers at OCTranspo since I’ve lived here and the service has not improved.

    >>in short, there is no service plan that will make everyone happy all the time, but I agree, finding a plan to make the majority, of the people who choose to use the bus, happy is very important.

    It’s true, no plan will make everyone happy all the time, but the plan should not be only to satisfy the majority of the people who already use the bus. The plan should be two pronged:

    1. Satisfy existing customers to a level that they won’t stop using OCTranspo (like I did).

    2. Create a service environment that people currently not using OCTranspo will decide to start using it.

    Number 1 is easy because OCTranspo has long ago distilled off the bulk of the people who think that their service sucks. Unfortunately, OCTranspo’s job should be to get those off-people back on the buses – it’s better for everyone if more people use public transit. But that’s not going to happen unless there is a marked improvement in the quality of service. People are voting with their feet (well, their cars) right now, and OCTranspo doesn’t seem to get the message.

    Even when the public gives input, the transit committee ignores it. In the 80’s the idea of light rail was being floated, but Oxana Sawka (sp?) had some kind of a hard-on for buses – a stupid position for this climate… We should have been building light rail then. Lots of people will take trains who wouldn’t set foot on a bus.

    Now it’s 2010 and not so much as a clump of sod has been turned, the roads are jammed with buses until even OCTranspo admits there are places that just can’t handle any more bus traffic, service has declined, and costs have risen. OCTranspo still works on a late-70’s transportation model (outskirts to the core in the morning, core to the outskirts in the afternoon) that no longer applies to the city. These things shouldn’t have to be rehashed to the committee. The committee should have planned for today a decade ago. The committee should be dealing with expected service levels and commitments for 2020 and beyond.

  55. One thing I will say… I am tired of seeing the stroller issue in the paper.

    Strollers, for many years were small, and bringing them on a bus was not a huge imposition. Now, strollers are often as big as a Smart Car as clueless parents bring their child’s entire repertoire of toys and crap with them.

    I’m sorry if parents think I’m evil for suggesting it, but in the interest of fairness to other passengers and frankly, to safety, gigantic strollers should not be allowed on the bus. The little foldable ones, sure… I think everyone would be cool with that except the most curmudgeonly jerks. No reasonable person would deny a parent and kid a ride on the bus just to be a jerk. But the bounds of sociability have been crossed by many parents with USS Nimitz-class strollers. An old computer network I once belonged to had a single rule: You will neither be excessively annoying nor excessively annoyed. Words to live by, IMO.

    Well, I think it’s being excessively annoyed to ban strollers, but I also think it is excessively annoying to expect that people accommodate your behemoth stroller.

    And yes, although I don’t ride the bus for work, I do ride it on occasion (usually when the weather is nice and I have no special time commitments), so I do know what I’m talking about on this issue.

  56. Squid – I’m not on your side about the strollers. I think if a parent has to do his/her errands by bus and with a child they will need something to transport both. A fold-up stroller will not carry bags and a child. The small fold-up strollers are also impossible to maneuver in snow or on ice. And, if a small child has to be on a bus, the safest place to be is strapped into a larger stroller that will offer them some protection should the bus have an accident or slam its brakes on suddenly. Little children are not safe in an umbrella stroller or sitting on a seat or on its parents lap. I take the bus every day and rarely experience a problem with strollers. If we’re going to make a big deal about them, why not the Zimmer frames and motorized scooters and guide dogs? What about people with a lot of bags or boxes — or the guy with the sheet of plywood the other day? What about the people with big hot cups of coffee on a crowded bus in the morning? See, it’s a public transportation system and the public includes all kinds of oversized, smelly, inconvenient, uncomfortable-making people and their stuff. I may not always like to ride with them, but I believe it’s important that we be as inclusive as possible. I see no reason why we can’t take pets in carriers on the bus either, but that’s been kiboshed forever. How are people without cars supposed to get their pets to the vet? Once we start looking at the sorts of “public” that we might not like to sit next to, then we can start making quite a list. I don’t think we should even start

  57. OC Driver wrote:

    “In the morning, assignment of spare drivers to bus routes is bordering on a nightmare of inefficiency.”

    Then Evolving Squid wrote:

    That should not be my problem. The reason why OCTranspo cannot fulfill its published commitments doesn’t change the fact that the service is unreliable, and therefore not something I can use.

    to which OC Driver responds:
    Dear E. Squid,
    If you were to go to your favourite restaurant and order something from the menu and be informed it was not available, sold out, what could you do? Not much, aside from order something else. Sure, you could vote with your feet, but unless you are a part owner of the restaurant, or have influence with the owner(s), you are essentially stuck, right?

    On the other hand, with OC Transpo, you have a say, via a variety of venues, starting with your local Councillor. I have informed you of one of the problems of getting buses on the road in the morning to serve the customers on time. The process, which is completely outside of the driver’s control, perhaps also outside of ATU279 control (I don’t really know how the process came to be established, but I do know the same process, with the addition of modern technology, probably would work well).

    What I would do, if I were you, is take this information and consult my local municipal representative and ask for some answers. Complaining in this forum actually makes the situation worse. How?
    (1) no solution will ever be implemented if it is discussed here and only here
    (2) people will get worked up, angry and upset
    (3) the upset people will likely pass their anger on to other people
    (4) the general level of hostility will rise
    (5) world peace will become more difficult to accomplish (yes, I happen to believe world peace is a real possibility)
    (6) and hostility showered upon a bus driver will certainly not improve your service.

    If I were you, and I had access to a deeper understanding about how the bus system works, I wouldn’t jump up and down and stamp my feet and say “that isn’t my problem”. I would be working on a way to effect a resolution. Ineffective complaining won’t resolve anything.

    But that is only my opinion. You might have a different opinion, and you might actually be getting results by complaining in an almost total vacuum, or vaccum, depending which dictionary you consult. 🙂

  58. If you were to go to your favourite restaurant and order something from the menu and be informed it was not available, sold out, what could you do? Not much, aside from order something else. Sure, you could vote with your feet, but unless you are a part owner of the restaurant, or have influence with the owner(s), you are essentially stuck, right?

    A restaurant that was out of its menu items on a regular basis absolutely would go out of business, and/or change staff.

    As a matter of fact, I have walked out of restaurants when they’ve been out of food that I wanted to order. Two that come to mind are the Montana’s over by Ikea (out of chicken?! They specialize in chicken, how can they be out? Fire the manager!), and the Houstons (used to be in Gloucester centre, now out of business).

    OCTranspo, on the other hand, has been permitted to operate ineffectively for at least 22 years that I’m aware of despite continuous complaints from the public over that period of time. Unless you are aware of some year that the praises from the public outstripped the complaints… but I don’t think you are.

    What I would do, if I were you, is take this information and consult my local municipal representative and ask for some answers.

    What makes you think I haven’t?

    (2) people will get worked up, angry and upset
    (3) the upset people will likely pass their anger on to other people
    (4) the general level of hostility will rise

    Those are all very, very good things with respect to effecting change at OC Transpo. Until enough people get angry, and sufficiently hostile, nothing is going to change. People have to be overtly pissed off – only then, it seems, will OCTranspo and the mandarins controlling it get the message. Playing nice hasn’t worked, and there’s no reason to expect it will suddenly work in the future. This isn’t a recent situation, it’s been going on for decades. The time for sending a strongly worded letter is past. It’s time for pitchforks and torches in my estimation.

    (6) and hostility showered upon a bus driver will certainly not improve your service.

    It can’t make it worse either, so there’s no disadvantage. Maybe if enough bus drivers get the message, they’ll stop sitting on their rumps and use their dreaded union to effect customer-positive change. Wouldn’t that be novel?

    You might have a different opinion, and you might actually be getting results by complaining in an almost total vacuum,

    Are you kidding? By complaining in this almost total vacuum (the only way to spell that word, by the way), I at least got the attention of someone who claims to be an OC Driver. By following proper channels I got to stand out in the cold waiting for a bus that never came. I’d call this a big win.

  59. XUP:

    most of those large objects you’re talking about would usually be bounced from the bus. The motorized wheelchair, unfortunately, is permitted by law as far as I know, even though I think they should be relegated to paratranspo. Guide dogs are permitted pretty much everywhere, and i’m prepared to make that sacrifice.

    However, you and me and everyone we know survived childhood with a mom who used something like an umbrella stroller. Unless you can come up with a compelling reason why it’s so much more dangerous now than it was then, the argument about safety is moot. People use those giant strollers because they’re selfish. The strollers are convenient for the user, and inconvenient for people around them.

    I’m all for keeping food and drink off the bus, that will keep buses cleaner and safer.

    As for people without cars, they can rent cars or call taxis for the few times they need to take their pet to the vet. As I recall, when I was little, taxi how my mom took her brood to the grocery store when we didn’t have a car. Not 4 giant strollers on a bus.

    Public transit is not intended to be a perfect fit for every transportation scenario a person can think up. Its purpose is to be a reasonable alternative in a majority of situations. There are situations where public transit may not be appropriate (such as when you have a giant stroller, when your Buvier needs to go to the vet, when you are ill with communicable disease, and so forth).

  60. Evolving Squid wrote:

    “Are you kidding? By complaining in this almost total vacuum (the only way to spell that word, by the way), I at least got the attention of someone who claims to be an OC Driver. By following proper channels I got to stand out in the cold waiting for a bus that never came. I’d call this a big win.”

    You have successfully convinced me further discourse with you would be a complete waste of time. Goodbye, Farewell and enjoy your big win.

  61. OC Driver: You seem to think that Evolving Squid is complaining to you about OC Transpo, and about you. If you go off trying to defend OC Transpo and proposing that he should not put his complaints and observations into writing for others to share their complaints and experiences, then yes, you cannot win that argument.

    I learned at a meeting tonight that the Interprovincial Transit Strategy consultants considered “user-focus” as one of the key points of interprovincial transit service. They suggested improving “user-focus” by making bus stops, transit maps, and website layouts more consistent between OC Transpo and STO. For them to so blatantly disregard the actual reliability of the transit service itself (instead of all the trimmings) shows that they have their heads firmly planted up their arses when it comes to the transit riding experience.

    Bus riders have a right–even a duty–to complain about it, in any and every medium possible. You may be a nice driver, but so long as there are asshole drivers out there, and so long as OC Transpo gives you schedules that are impossible to keep on time, you’re still on the front lines and you’re going to get your reputation sullied by it. If I were a driver, I wouldn’t consider it worth my time to defend the company that gives my riders a bad experience and lets me take the fall for it.

    – RG>

  62. RealGrouchy wrote:

    “If I were a driver, I wouldn’t consider it worth my time to defend the company that gives my riders a bad experience and lets me take the fall for it.”
    ———————-
    OCDriver replied:
    Gee, if I had just logged off instead of checking for e-mail one last time, I could be falling to sleep instead of typing . . . In short, I feel the style of the complaint is directly connected to the results. I firmly believe a combative relationship breeds more conflict than results. Maybe everyone in the general public knows all the behind the scenes details for why things don’t work very well. If that is the case, I don’t need to share any of my observations with you. It appears many people are too busy enjoying being angry to stop and plan a course of action to get the results they desire. Venting anger on a driver can only make the situation worse. Let me see if I can imagine two quick examples:
    (1) assuming you said something unpleasant to the driver, they might slide past your stop. Ooops. Childish response, yes, but if you had not said anything you probably would have found the bus stopped where you expected it to stop.
    (2) perhaps the driver just becomes less overly customer service minded after a nasty comment and they suddenly choose not to wait for someone running on the platform. Again, childish, but it could easily happen when someone is repeatedly treated disrespectfully.

    My point is this, the drivers are not responsible for the overall operating plan of OC Transpo and even if some drivers are not nice, treating any driver the way you would like to be treated (respectfully) is more likely to generate respect in return than the alternative (expecting respectful treatment following the application of disrespect).

    Consider the ripple effect of a random act of kindness to a random act of hostility. I’m just saying hostility breeds more hostility and I support being nice to people to get the results you desire. Sure, you might have a right to be hostile, you might have good reasons, blah blah blah blah blah, but as the old saying goes, you will get more flies with honey than with vinegar.
    —-
    Next, take a SOLUTION to someone along with the complaint. That way you become someone helping them solve the problem instead of just another person with a complaint.
    —- World Peace is possible, but it requires a shift in everyone’s attitude. You can be a part of the solution, all you have to do is choose to be nice each and every day of your life. Not so hard when you think about it, but it does require being able to let go of your anger. Hmmmm…. let go of my anger and move a step closer to World Peace, sounds like a good deal to me.
    —-
    P.S. I’ll do my best NOT to act like a child regardless of how you treat me, but I CAN promise to be respectful when I am being treated with respect.

  63. “Venting anger on a driver can only make the situation worse.”

    OC Driver, I don’t think anyone suggested venting anger on a driver until you came into the conversation and put yourself in the line of fire.

    The topic was about OC Transpo’s policies, and the poor responses of their Customer Service department. You decided to interpret everything as an attack on drivers (and on yourself) and the topic changed accordingly.

    – RG>

  64. RealGrouchy wrote:

    “OC Driver, I don’t think anyone suggested venting anger on a driver until you came into the conversation and put yourself in the line of fire.”

    1) Go back and read the entire thread and then tell me no one wrote anything which could be characterized as venting anger toward drivers. I note instances written before I arrived.

    2) I wrote more than 400 words on taking a respectful and peaceful approach to solving problems. Just wondering why the 400 words were not worthy of a comment?

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  67. Perhaps for the reasonable person who takes their garbage with them it is fine to eat/drink on OC Transpo buses. I just slipped in a liquid mess while trying to disembark and broke the cuboid bone in my foot, no apologies from OC Transpo & I have to claim through my own car insurance. They should have warning signs i.e. Enter at own risk & we accept no responsibility for personal injury. I am all for banning food & drink on the bus.

  68. yes, there’s alot of crappy drivers that purposely tries to piss everyone off, and everyone’s fed up with rate increases, seriously where and why is all this money going to where it’s going

  69. I think that every form of transportation may have times to be unreliable. It is obvious that if Octranspo runs out of buses due to mechanical issues, or they run out of operators because of scheduling issues(which the strike was all about), they may cancel an express route and make those people walk a long way to a major route instead of canceling a major transit route. I always depended on Octranspo but knowing that every driver is different and roads are different every day I get myself to the bus stop one scheduled bus earlier .I just hope and wish that our Mayor changes so we can see that the bus drivers are happy and willing to do more.

  70. OC Transpo is just rather ridiculous in many ways. I filmed a driver having an altercation with passengers on Valentines day and posted it to youtube – their response: IT is illegal to film on OC Transpo busses and I might get fined. No comment about the whole driver verbally abusing paying passengers one of whom had a kid with him. Fun times. The Sun and Citizen are picking up on it in force though.

    http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/02/17/17317886.html#/news/ottawa/2011/02/17/pf-17317891.html

  71. august 3 2011 city council and octranspo have not learned from the past . if you dont like the service move just listen to mark taylor on ctv news aug 3 its on tape on the internet