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June 15, 2010

Five Questions: OC Transpo Etiquette

The good citizens of Ottawa have a lot of complaints about OC Transpo. But while grumpy drivers and late buses aren't going to disappear in the new future, maybe if all of the riders were a little more civil and respectful to one another, a ride to work on the bus wouldn't be so bad.

So I was happy to come across a YouTube channel called OC Transpo Etiquettes, featuring videos with advice on how to be a good rider. Things like moving to the back, keeping your voice down, and no smoking on the bus.

Here's a quick email interview with Michael Nhem, one of the guys who makes the videos.
1. Who's behind the "OC Transpo Etiquettes" videos?
The three guys behind the OC Transpo Etiquette videos are Michael Nhem (me) and Wilson Lo, which act in the videos, and Jaron Kearns, who records and edits them.

2. Describe your daily commute / regular ride with OC.
I have been riding OC Transpo for approximately 13 years, since I was about four years old. I can briefly remember riding the old buses around town, which I miss the most. I use transit daily, from home to school, and whether I need to or not. Wilson has been using transit since high school in the Greater Toronto Area, but only used OC Transpo since beginning school at Carleton U in September 2009. He mainly commutes by the O-Train or the nearest transitway route. Jaron has been using OC Transpo since July 2009, but only uses it when meeting friends or traveling around town on the old "Classic" buses for fun.

3. Where did the idea for the video series come from?
The idea came from after I was noticing that a lot of Ottawa's bus commuters weren't following everyday simple transit rules such as, disembarking from the front doors (which defeats the purpose of having rear doors on a bus), passengers not moving all the way to the back of the bus when it became over crowded, and people blocking the rear doors on most busy routes. I wanted to somehow teach the etiquette of riding public transit in Ottawa, which I have learned from riding transit in other major cities across Canada, so I came up with an idea of creating short videos that would get to the point of instructing people how to properly ride the bus.

4. What do you think is the most annoying thing that bus riders do in Ottawa?
I think the most annoying thing that transit riders do in Ottawa is board a bus with an SUV stroller or those double-seated SUV strollers. They take up too much space, and it gets in the way of the main aisle, which can be problematic and a safety concern as people trip or hurt themselves while trying to navigate around these thing.

5. What's the one thing you'd do to improve OC Transpo?
Right now, it would be the scheduling. This whole two and three piece shifts are unnecessary. The city claims that this is saving them money, while the real deal is that they are loosing lots of buck everyday because of this. The old scheduling from the previous booking in late Fall '09 was much better than it is now. Everyday since April 18th of this year, drivers are unable to make it in time to start their second or third shift, and OC Transpo can't get anybody to cover their run. So either the trips of their route becomes cancelled, or another driver is working overtime again to help cover the missing trips.
I have a suggestion for another etiquette video: how to board the bus. For some reason Ottawa passengers mob the front door in a free-for-all stampede. In most other cities people organize themselves to queue up in a single line.

Related: Ottawa OC Transpo Guide

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