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Learning the ins and outs of Ottawa’s transit system

Julia Fabian | Fulcrum Staff

SURE, CARS ARE super cool, but you might not have access to one anymore now that you’ve flown the coop and are on your own. Whether that’s the case or you just want to know more about Ottawa’s bus system, look no further. Becoming familiar with the OC Transpo schedules, routes, and pitfalls will make your life a lot easier and ensure you get to enjoy all that this great city has to offer.

You can check out www.octranspo.com to plan your route and find detailed information on fares and schedules, but here are some extra tips:

  • Text 560-560 with the number of the bus stop and the route number to get an updated arrival time of your next bus. You can also call (613) 560-1000 and punch in the bus stop number when prompted.
  • Don’t be tempted to jump on the back of the bus without a valid pass or transfer. Even though you may not be caught, the chance of being stuck with a hefty $150 fine is not worth the risk.
  • If you’re coming back to the downtown core, most of the buses in the 90s will get you there (the 95, 96, 97, etc.). So if you’re running late and you’re a few stops away from campus, know that there is more than one route that leads to home.
  • Dress and pack accordingly if it’s cold or looks stormy. Not all bus stops have covered (or heated) shelters.
  • Do your research on routes if time is an issue. The 85 and the 97 will both take you to Bayshore Station, for example, but if you have somewhere to be, the 85 can feel like it detours through Toronto. Likewise, the 1 is the longest bus ride of your life, and the 5 seems to drive around at its own pace. Know which routes to avoid!
  • If you’re biking and you get tired, fear not! Some buses (especially the major lines in the 90s) have bike racks on the front where you can ditch your wheels and ride home in style. Just don’t forget to grab your bike as you get off the bus! Check the OC Transpo website for more information on which buses are equipped with bike racks.
  • OC Transpo passes and transfers are accepted on Gatineau buses too, so don’t limit yourself to this side of the river. Visit www.sto.ca to find out more.
  • In case you’re wondering why those people are looking at you weird, you might be sitting in the reserved section of the bus. Leave the front area of the bus for the elderly and people with disabilities, and move to the back if it’s getting crowded.
  • Take advantage of transit. Cars can be more of a hindrance than a help, especially when you’re facing traffic, gas prices, or the lack of parking downtown. Feel free as a bird as you hop on and off those buses. You are among the lucky ones.