Last week’s season opener snowstorm wrought complications large and small for pretty much everyone. Winter always seems to take us by surprise. We seem to get soft over the course of the rest of the year, losing our skill at navigating snow-choked streets and sidewalks.
It’s days like these, though, when OC Transpo really shows its stuff. In summer, those of us who ride the chariot of the proletariat might well envy the guy buzzing by the bus stop in his convertible, but on days like last Wednesday, the place to be is on the bus. (Of course, getting there can be tricky if you’re trying to fight your way to a space at one of our notoriously crowded suburban park and ride stations.)
Ottawa police reported 85 vehicle collisions on our roads and highways by last Wednesday afternoon, none of which, to my knowledge, involved buses.
Transpo, meanwhile, ran as usual and even mostly on schedule, though a few articulated buses got stuck in the seasonal morass. Out of 9,000 bus runs, only 14 had to be cancelled, or .0016 per cent.
The bus has it over the private car in terms of safety no matter what the weather. Your vehicle is professionally maintained and professionally driven. The driver’s not preoccupied with thoughts of the job they’re trying to get to or from, because they’re already on it.
When it gets ugly out there, the bus looks even better. For your bus fare, you outsource the aggravation of driving in constipated traffic with endless ranks of frustrated motorists, most of them in single-occupancy vehicles, entirely too few of which have been kitted out with snow tires because, hey, it hasn’t snowed yet.
Once those unfortunates get where they’re going, they get to find a place to park somewhere amid the snow-clearance lockdown, and perhaps rely upon the kindness of passersby to help push their wheel-spinning vehicle out of the snow banks, a service which is, mercifully, still very much on offer in Ottawa.
The relative smoothness of last Wednesday’s commute stands in marked contrast to last year, when we endured the double whammy of a massive dump of snow on the first day of the transit strike. Citywide gridlock and misery ensued.
All of which makes it fairly disheartening to hear city council, in hopes of shaving $3 million off the transit budget, is looking at cutting back on some routes and eliminating others, measures which would reduce ridership by an estimated 574,000 person-trips, and put more cars on the road for next winter’s first storm.