We all know the advantages of public transit: it’s better for the environment; it helps reduce traffic; you avoid eye-gouging downtown parking fees; and for some, it’s even a bit of free time to read or listen to an iPod.
Public transit works great in theory. In reality, anyone who’s utilized OC Transpo’s services might tell you differently. It seems we’ve forgotten, but after the OC Transpo strike that started on December 10, 2008 and ended 51 excruciating days later, OC Transpo vowed to offer Ottawa residents a better, more courteous service. And I have to admit, that first week back nearly brought a tear to my eye: drivers were on time and seemed genuinely happy to greet riders.
Since then, bus drivers have, with a few exceptions, returned to their old habits: they’re rude and impatient, they close the doors and take off even when they see you there, and they think bus schedules are just a suggestion.
Their mandate is “to deliver safe, reliable, and courteous service at a reasonable price.” Seeing as I haven’t yet had an accident while riding a bus, I’ll grant them “safe”. I’m still waiting for “reliable” and “courteous”. Buses are so often late (or fail to come at all) that I’ve got their customer service number in my cell phone contacts. This despite the fact that after the strike, their customer service reps stated a zero tolerance for lateness.
But why doesn’t their mandate mention “sufficient”? OC Transpo has held consultations, where the public can attend and express their opinion — if they happen to see the tiny notices temporarily taped to bus stop poles. Following these consultations, some bus routes were changed, while others were eliminated altogether. All to better serve residents.
Meanwhile, other buses are so over-packed that after the first few downtown stops, people are standing packed all the way to the doors, and the buses can’t take in any other riders.
I and many others have been both calling in and e-mailing our grievances. I question whether the online form we fill out even goes to a valid account, since we never actually receive a response. However, by phone, the reps take note of every comment, and encourage riders to call. The rep today (with whom I’m now on first-name basis) informed me that the next schedule changes will take place in April. I urge all disgruntled riders to do their part and tell OC Transpo we expect better, either by phone (613-842-3600) or through their online form.
What do YOU think of OC Transpo’s post-strike service?