It’s amazing how much you can forget in a year. But it is coming back to me now: Ottawa’s transit system is designed to give riders ulcers.
That many route numbers and routes have been changed is no surprise. Those in charge of OC Transpo don’t want people getting comfortable. They’ve added a new layer of obfuscation though, just to make things more difficult.
When I went to the nearest station on the city’s famed transitway I notice some unfamiliar route numbers listed. No problem, I thought, I would just look at the system map to see where those routes go and also look at the posted schedules to see when I could expect whatever bus I was going to take to my destination.
There used to be timetables with the system map. No longer. Now there is a TV screen that shows you when the next buses are coming. Great idea if it works, but the screen was out of order. No timetables beside the map on the station wall. (And I have discovered that when the screen is working it only shows a few buses at a time. The paper method was more comprehensive.)
That map wasn’t much help either. Ottawa is theoretically revamping its transit system in mid-September, opening a new light rail line that is only a couple of years behind schedule. For $2.1 billion it had better work, but I can’t say that news reports of the testing inspired much confidence in me. The bureaucrats are ahead of things though – the system map at the station shows what will be when light rail rolls, not how it is today.
Of course there is a transit app you can install on your phone, which will deliver all the information you need. But there’s no Wi-Fi at the transit station, and I didn’t feel like incurring roaming charges by switching on my German phone. You would think they would install Wi-Fi if they want customers to use their app, but that would perhaps be better planning than OC Transpo is able to deliver.
I did get where I was going. They couldn’t change the system so much in a year that I couldn’t figure it out. It just didn’t need to be that complicated.