OCTranspo's "new year" of efficiencies?

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Monday, January 2, 2006

Anyone riding the OC Transpo Ottawa municipal bus service's express bus routes this morning and this afternoon, in the Ottawa area, was probably greeted with an empty bus, and inherently, a "fast and efficient" ride. This is in part because most government workers where off from work still celebrating their Christmas holidays and buses were operating on a "holiday schedule;" a lack of planning on behalf of OC Transpo.

Though, according to OC Transpo, the "Holiday Schedule" means buses this week shall be running a little less often, in reality there isn't that much difference than the regular schedule. To be more precise, from 05h48 until 07h20, on the express 27 route there will be 5 less buses during the "Holiday Schedule" compared to the "Regular Schedule."

"This is probably going to be fine for the rest of this week, when government employees start coming back to work", said Yves Roy, an OC Transpo driver, "but today was a holiday and it appears that express routes only had an average of about 2 to 4 passengers."

"On my ride in to work, at around 6:10 a.m. this morning, nobody else got on the bus. It was like having a personal stretch limo to myself," said Patrick Roy, a guard for the commissionaires.

Octranspo articulated.jpg

Also, at around 4:15 p.m. another OC Transpo bus driver, whom wished to remain anonymous, stated, "You are the first person I picked up today." He had been working since the morning doing express runs. He then added, "This is a waste of tax payers money."

Ottawa's BRT "Transitway," has indicated that it cost approximately 42.58$ CAN per hour to run a diesel bus. It is estimated that 729 express buses ran today for approximatelly 7 hours costing approximatelly 217,287$ CAN. The cost of operating OC Transpo is split between transit fares collected and the tax base (mostly municipal, with some federal and provincial contributions.)

"We then continued to talk about waste of fuel, employee pay, insurance liability issues and even went into details about such hot political items as the Kyoto Agreement and conservatism," said Patrick. "Once the driver reached Place d'Orleans the second passenger joined in the conversation. The driver then took a faster alternate route and dropped us off not far from our homes."

According to Peter Dickson, editor at The Ottawa Citizen, last year OC Transpo buses followed a 'reduced' Sunday schedule and this created havoc on the system. Peter asked, if "perhaps this year they where trying to compensate for this inefficiency?"

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), OC Transpo's union representative has indicated, "At current fleet levels, Ottawa's roads would be choked with about 40,000 more cars each rush hour if not for OC Transpo."[1] ATU suggests 70 per cent of trips in Ottawa are now made by car. However, seemingly, due to returning vacationers and other reasons, today may have created an increase in the use of cars and influenced this statistic. According to city councillor Clive Doucet's web page "Currently, 17% of all trips residents make in Ottawa are on public transit, up from 15% in the mid-nineties. As a comparison, Paris’ modal split is 40% or higher taking public transit while Los Angeles’ modal split is around 2% for public transit." Analysing ridership on a large scale seems to be an important element for the city.

According to Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli, "We used to be able to plan a transit system for up to 12 years ahead, with assured funding." This of course is in reference to provincial government funding. "It would make me happier if we took all of the (fuel taxes) and put them into the transportation infrastructure," Mr. Hunt, president of the Canadian Automobile Association says. "But we don't have a plan."

"Usually OC Transpo bus drivers have two 4 months bookings, for the fall and the winter and two 2 months booking for the spring and for the summer," said Yves Roy. "For the first time in March 2005, there was a special 1 week booking for the March break that rearranged and redistributed drivers of certain high school bus runs. During previous march breaks, drivers would show up usually waiting 30 or more minutes in an "idling" bus."

Is there such thing as to much efficiency? Today is an example of buses and drivers being very efficient. On the other hand, it may be a lack of efficiency within OC Transpo's booking department, upper management and the governments.

Source

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