OC Transpo planner grills audience

I went to City Hall last night to learn some more about the proposed bus route changes. There was a huge, vocal, and annoyed turnout. The questioning for Mercier and Deans and Transpo staff was tough. But half way through something totally dramatic happened. Unfortunately the Main Stream Media reporters had all got enough “angry mob” clips and gone home; leaving only bloggers to cover what really transpired. Read closely now, this has been a closely guarded story until now, when I share it with you alone.

Pull your chair up closer to the screen, you’re still too far away. This is hot stuff. Shhh.

Just after the MSM had left the meeting to pop a few beers down on Elgin Street strip (taking their fleet of vans instead of the No 5), one lone OC Transpo planner-type guy stood up, raised his arms, and called for silence.

“My name is Walter Mitty, and the rest of this meeting is going to be different.” Gesturing to colleagues near the exits, he said “Lock the doors. Nobody leaves. Now I am going to question the audience.”

And in the same aggrieved tone of voice as the audience had earlier lambasted city officials, with the same wicked spins and curves in non-questions obviously gleaned from hundreds of hours — no ten-thousand hours! — of watching Question Period, he began to question the audience:

“You there, who thinks there is a requirement for single-vehicle no-transfer bus service between ANY two points anywhere in the city … give me your bank account number so we can buy the buses we need for that level or service.

You there, who complains residents can’t be expected to walk even a block to a bus route because your street doesn’t have a sidewalk … OK, new city policy as of now is for every street to have sidewalks … on both sides! How will you ensure no one complains about the cost of the sidewalks, the snowplowing, the “change” that this will bring to your bucolic suburban idyl?

You there, who chose to live on a tiny crescent out at Merivale and Hwy 16, so you can be far from the city and have only flatulent cows for neighbours,  why do you think is the public responsibility to provide direct no-transfer bus service from your isolated blot to every other urban job site, hospital, church, community centre, or shopping centre, seven days a week and late at night too?

You there who says one transfer is too much, how about having half transfers?

You there, who says a ten minute walk is too far to go to the bus, how about we supply everyone with an electric wheelchair or scooter? No? then what should the new standard be — 200m? 100m? a bus stop in front of every house?

You there, who thinks that it is OC Transpo policy that only children of those who drive are to be allowed to go to the aviation or other museums (because we don’t provide bus service to single isolated destinations sought out by tens of people per Sunday), would you prefer that we go the Smithsonian route, whereby we mandate the Museum is Free but parking is $14? (and NO CHEATING, sidewalks will not be provided nor will wide shoulders on the road).

You who claims you never listen to the radio, watch TV, read the paper (even the ones that are frickin’ free) or even read any of the marvellous high quality bloggers in Duckburg, because you claim that you never heard of the proposed changes until yesterday … thank you for volunteering to go out and tell every one of the 790,000 (very)odd people in Ottawa face-to-face that some bus routes are changing. Come back with proof you met every resident and that everyone understood your message.

You there, who thinks it should be mandatory for every councillor and bureaucrat to take OC Transpo for every trip every day so they know what its like, please come up with an effective communication strategy for the hundreds of thousands of drivers who will feel aggrieved that councillors never understand the road problems because they never drive …

You there, who insists Jim Watson does not care about Ottawa’s poorest and most vulnerable, you will ride the bus every day with said people and yet never stand beside the employed, the self-supporting, the confident, any students, or anyone else except said minority.

You there, who insists our quiet residential streets will be littered with the corpses of the elderly who were fasting before their blood work and expired before they could hike 200m to the closest bus stop … you are assigned a wooden cart and bell, and sentenced to cry out “bring out your dead” for all eternity.

You there, who thinks it is dumb to run buses in both directions down your downtown street because it might disturb you, please meet that lady over there is who thinks it is dumb to run buses in opposite directions on parallel one-way streets, and we will grant an extended transfer slip to the survivor.

You there, for claiming a “large proportion” of 600 church attendees at Bethel Pentecostal Church get there by No3, you will stand at the bus stop by the church and put in two (2) tickets for every empty seat on that bus all day Sunday, and no you may not claim bankruptcy.

You there, who wants a bus route in every low density spread-out crescent-infested suburban neighborhood, agree to permit a 35 storey high rise to be built on every block on a 60′ lot to increase the density enough to justify a bus service, before we put the bus service back?

You there, who insists that it is a public responsibility to provide no-transfer bus service from some obscure suburban entertainment arcade your daughter has a part-time job at, directly to your house, kindly agree to pay 500% more taxes so that every teen can have the same level of service (surely that is only equitable?) just in case they might wish to avail themselves of the opportunity to earn some pocket money?

You there, who complains that your neighborhood has a school on one street, a community centre on another, a mall elsewhere, a church somewhere, and none of them on a main street, kindly agree that we bulldoze over this suburban spaghetti of streets and put all destinations on main streets instead of where the space is cheapest or easiest for the motorist-elite to get to? Hurry up, we got years of bad suburban planning to undo.

And finally, for the guy over there who claims service changes are designed to get drinkers from entertainment districts into cars, please go out and tell that to the MSM drinking on Elgin Street before they file their stories! Stories which are full of lies and don’t reflect the real world wherein the entire transportation system is designed around me, my family, and my convenience, at modest cost, no noise or obtrusiveness, or else my name isn’t Walter Mitty.

13 thoughts on “OC Transpo planner grills audience

  1. I’d like to see the express system gutted instead of local routes. The city should take a long hard look at how people actually use the express buses, and see that “no-transfer” service is rarely that. Riders frequently transfer from express buses, or even betweeen express buses. The 70-series buses to Barrhaven, for example, are filled with people who aren’t using it to get to their final destination. Instead, they’re filled with people with express passes who treat them as substitute 95’s until they reach Fallowfield station, at which point they transfer, either to the “correct” express to get them home, or to their local route.

    How to fix this? For Barrhaven, it’s easy:

    1) Remove all “express” service that overlaps with the 95. Instead, realign local routes to cover the same areas as the express, and provide additional peak-period trips on those routes.
    2) Run the 95 Barrhaven Marketplace at an increased frequency during those periods.

    People are transferring anyway, so it only makes sense to streamline the service in a way that doesn’t reduce service.

    1. Circulating local routes at higher frequency instead of express buses that toddle through suburbs and trudge all the way to and through downtown (and back while out of service) would not only allow for more runs through the local area, but it would have the side benefit of serving people going in either direction (to or from the neighbourhood), which would be a big step toward encouraging transit use outside of just the morning and afternoon rush hours.

      However, there is a flaw with your suggestion. The “express” buses don’t necessarily stop at every stop like the 95 more or less does, so wholesale replacement of the Transitway component of “express” buses with 90-series buses would result in a longer commute, even when you exclude the transfer.

      To solve this, you’d need a true “express” bus at an even higher order of magnitude than the Transitway buses that only stopped at the major hubs (as a rough example, Trim–Place–Hurdman–Lebreton–Lincoln Fields–Baseline–Fallowfield). The local buses (the suburban ones converted from the “express” lines) would go down the Transitway to the nearest such station to avoid an extra transfer.

      I believe it’s Portland OR that refers to its three levels of service as “hop”, “skip” and “jump”. In Ottawa, that could correspond to local, Transitway, and this Supertransitway bus I suggest above.

      As employment nodes further disperse across our gigantic, sprawling city, the need is continually growing to end the assumption that bus users live in a suburb and work downtown.

      – RG>

  2. I am directly affected by the OCTranspo service cuts, as I used to be able to take one bus from my front door downtown, to my office out in Kanata North. With the new service cuts, I will have to take a 95, and then transfer at Lincoln Fields or Bayshore to the new 93 route, which will be replacing the 101 and 182 routes in Kanata.

    I still, begrudgingly, admit that this is probably a good idea… Bus Transfers don’t scare me as much as they do other people, apparently.

    1. Bus transfers are not a problem as long as the buses run often enough. There is nothing more annoying than waiting 29 minutes for your transfer having just missed it.

      A few years ago I was staying with a friend in London (UK). We were going to take the bus to our destination in the morning, and I asked him when it came. He said something like: <> I like that kind of service. (And no, he doesn’t live near a transitway like feature.)

      1. Matthew -Exactly.
        The suburban and milk routes do not need to be frequent during the day. Riders just need to know where they are (Not where the schedule says they should be), so they can plan their departure time. These routes should feed into the big transit way routes. Do not let these buses leave the transit way, and don’t let any other buses on the transit way, and make these buses so frequent that a rider should not have to wait longer than 2-3 minutes for a bus.
        This way you do not have to worry about meeting all your connections. You just focus on the times for your local bus.
        Also riders would complain less about waiting for buses if transit stations sold booze.

      2. They are also even less of a problem if there are things you can do while waiting for a bus, other than wait for a bus. Too bad most of the Transitway stations and other major transfer points suck, and do so by design.

  3. Hear, hear! Excellent post! You read my mind…

    Only 9X buses should be allowed on the transitway. ALL other bus routes should run a simple route and terminate at the nearest transitway station. Period. This is how the TTC works with the result that you don’t need to memorize the system map to get from point A to point B.

  4. My only beef (the criticisms it seems people are leveling at OC are ridiculous!) is with the frequency of the 7 down Bank to Carleton. Since the UPass was implemented, many more Carleton students are using OC and packing the 7. However, the increased ridership to campus has not been accompanied with an increase in the number of buses going to Carleton (Ottawa U is served by the transitway and doesn’t suffer as many such problems).

    1. Not just the frequency, but the equipment choice. Except when a spare has to be called in, and the only vehicle left in the barn is an artic, the Bank Street runs always operate on 40-footers. 40-footers can’t handle the load, but OC Transpo planners refuse to believe this.

      There have also been stupid scheduling problems on the Bank southbound routes in the early evening, when all of a sudden there’s a 20-minute to half-hour gap between buses. Before and after, service is at most 10-15 minutes apart (1 or 7) assuming the buses are on time. This gap causes the bus which does finally arrive to crush up… especially if there is any kind of event at Landsdowne.

      (Speaking of which, does OC Transpo consult the schedule of events there and add service when necessary? Nope.)

      U of O may have the Transitway, but there are also now real problems with service on the 5, which has become the school bus for U of O students who are steadily getting priced out of Sandy Hill and into Vanier and Brittany. The Smart People at OC Transpo now want to cut the 5 off-peak, having obviously never ridden the damn bus in the evening during the academic year.

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