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All aboard the Headbanger Express

OC Transpo competes with other modes of transportation, notably thecar, and yet sometimes seems intent on selling as many cars aspossible. I know at least one it sold this fall after route changesadded just enough extra inconvenience to a friend’s commute to send himscrambling to a dealership.

OC Transpo competes with other modes of transportation, notably the car, and yet sometimes seems intent on selling as many cars as possible. I know at least one it sold this fall after route changes added just enough extra inconvenience to a friend’s commute to send him scrambling to a dealership.

Ridership has not quite recovered from last winter’s strike, and yet next summer, Transpo will see how many more customers it can chase away with yet another increase in its fares, already among the highest in Canada.

The proposed hike, averaging 7.5 per cent this time, will fall most heavily on students and seniors, incidentally two of the biggest users of transit, not always by choice.

This time, OC Transpo wants to jack the price of a monthly student pass to $73.75 (a 12.3 per cent increase) and that of a senior’s monthly pass to $36 (13.4 per cent). Chasing new revenue by boosting ridership just seems like such a bother compared to simply soaking one’s existing captive audience, doesn’t it?

The bus offers several advantages over the car. It’s safer, greener, and allows riders to read or otherwise make productive use of their commute. If you want to see the bus beat the car hands down, though, take, as I did, one of OC Transpo’s “Connexion 400” special event routes to Scotiabank Place.

The 403 to last week’s Metallica concert picked me up downtown about 6:19. The jam-packed Headbanger Express arrived at 6:59, a minute before show time. One guy asked me about getting back home. I shrugged and told him it would be tricky. I was wrong. After the final encore, the buses were massed and waiting.

Compare this to the motorist’s experience, idling in sclerotic event-night traffic without the benefit of transit lanes, then lining up and paying for the privilege of parking. And getting home? Scotiabank Place estimates it takes about half an hour for each of its parking lots to empty on an event night and advises motorists to sit back and have a coffee while the traffic jam clears.

On the bus trip home, it was hard to believe it was Ottawa. People were actually talking to strangers. Discussions ranged from Metallica’s least-loved album to the local strip club most favoured by the members of Motley Crue.

Could anyone have this much fun driving their minivan to Metallica?

 
 
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