My #OttTransitChallenge

My #OttTransitChallenge

The best way to learn about our transit system is to experience it yourself.

Following the call of Free Transit Ottawa I left my bike and car at home last week and I took part in the #OttTransitChallenge. Here are my two cents on what I learned.

The positive:

  • If I am not able to take my bike or my car, the transportation system would allow me to get to my different work places in the west, downtown, and the east.
  • By taking the bus, I can take some time for myself during my commute (work, responding to emails, reading…)
  • This also allows me to interact with other residents. Even if some are deep in their own world (phone, reading, music…), most are happy to engage in discussion with a seatmate.

The negative:

  • The constant uncertainty about when the next bus will arrive or the fear of missing a connection is omnipresent during commutes. Even with numerous planning tools and real time information, the stress of arriving late to work, to a meeting or to pick up the kids is toxic - almost more so than actually arriving late. Service reliability needs to be radically improved!
  • The price/service speed ratio? For a short distance, walking or biking is almost always faster and cheaper. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the choice and have to take the bus. Fares must be reduced!
  • The routes suggested by bus planning apps always tend to propose downtown connections. Is this a good choice, given delays are usually associated with traffic issues in the downtown core? Focusing on the importance of developing decentralized connection hubs is crucial!

Last, but not least, snow is definitely a major problem when you take the bus in winter in Ottawa, both for accessibility (need to walk to and from the bus stop) and for reliability (traffic can be terrible because of the weather). Although OCTranspo cannot be blamed for the weather, we should talk more often about snow clearing operations specifically designed to improve bus ridership in Ottawa.