The Tomato

OC Transpo bus fleet. Photo: CC, wikicommons, P199.
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OC Transpo bus drivers arrived from California over the weekend

During the first weeks of snowfall, the City of Ottawa welcomed their annual shipment of OC Transpo drivers from California. Jim Watson, as well as other council members, were lined up at the gate at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport on Saturday to welcome their newest bus drivers. This was part of the Ontario-California exchange program, which aims to bridge connections between the two places, one bus driver at a time.

In exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage, the Tomato followed the bus drivers on their first day on the job. The drivers had undergone an intensive two-week driving program in the streets of California, wherein they trained in the instructor’s car. OC Transpo officials assert that “driving in a jalopy imitates driving an OC Transpo bus perfectly”. The new drivers were excited to see snowfall for the first time.

“Wow!” exclaimed Alberta Milam, “I’ve never seen snow before, that’s crazy. I hope it doesn’t impair driving or anything, haha.”

“I’ve never actually been on a bus myself,” claims Robert Gaile, “But I’ve heard it’s a lot like Uber. So I guess I just bring people to their destinations and stuff, and they tip me?”

The drivers seemed ill-prepared for the Canadian winter, but that was quickly taken care of. The drivers were given OC Transpo swag, including a parka and thermos, which Watson explained: “(were) used to hold hot drinks, like green tea or hot kombucha.”  

Bus routes were explained in hurried detail before the drivers were able to ask questions.

“So bus stops are just a suggestion right?” asked someone in the back. “What about scheduled times? Like it would be great if the bus showed up at 8:25 a.m. but what if I wanted to surprise them? What if I want to sleep in, or take the bus down a different street?”

“Now which one’s the brake again?” asked Heather Stanos. “And what’s a Presto?”

A seasoned bus driver with the program, Frank Busey, asked about the LRT, to which city officials just shrugged in response.

As the California drivers rushed outside to the fleet of buses to get started, Ottawa’s native bus drivers arrived for their flight to California.

Many wore tropical shirts under their parkas and danced to surf music. They were even using a puka shell necklace to limbo.

Jacques Lamonde, an Ottawa-native bus driver, rushed to the gate brushing snow off of his jacket. “Get me out of here.”

The Tomato wishes the California bus drivers good luck in their new driving positions and will be joining the Ottawa-native bus drivers in the hot California sun, for purely journalistic purposes.