Written by Amrit Brar
Whether you live on res or at home, I’m sure you’ll have to use Ottawa’s public transportation at one point or another. More often than not, people find public transpo dreadful, but here are a few tips and tricks to make your OC Transpo experience a little better!
First of all, if you’re not familiar with Ottawa, here is a little overview of our OC Transpo system. There is an integrated network of buses that are used throughout the city and two O-Train lines. Line 1, the Confederation Line which services the downtown area, running from Tunney’s Pasture (west end) to Blair (east end). Line 2, the Trillium Line runs from Greenboro (south end) to Bayview Station (north end).
To keep up to date with the bus and train schedules, along with numerous other features, your new best friend will be the OC Transpo website: https://www.octranspo.com/en/ or the app. UNI TIP: Download the OC Transpo app on your smartphone for quick and easy access!
There are so many different resources available to help plan your trip. Try them all out and you can pick your favourite!
1. Travel Planner
This feature does everything for you! Simply by entering your origin and destination and your departure or arrival time, the website will give you a list of all the different routes you can take, with the ETA, perfect for planning your trip!
2. Text 560 560
Even faster, you can text your 4-digit bus stop number to “560560” to see the times of the next departure. UNI TIP: This is especially useful if your bus stop is a short walk from your home and you want to verify when the bus is coming before you leave!
3. Call 613-560-1000
Similar to the texting feature, you may also call 613-560-1000 and enter your 4 digit bus stop number to hear the next 2 or 3 departure times for the buses at your stop. Calling also allows you to hear the latest schedule updates such as cancellations or detours.
In case you’re wondering where to find this 4 digit stop number that keeps being mentioned, here is a visual to learn about how all the bus stop signs are designed.
4. Schedules on the Website
As shown in the image, on the website,
you can also look at the route schedules,
stop schedules or next departure times.
Now that all the HOW TO’s are covered, here are some insider tips.
During peak hours (around 7:30 - 9:00 am and 4:30-6:30 pm), the trains of Line 1 run very frequently, approximately every 5 minutes. During off-peak hours, it can be a bit longer, but usually not more than 15 minutes.
ALWAYS PLAN AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EARLIER THAN YOU NEED TO ARRIVE. Anything can happen with public transpo, you can miss the bus/train, the bus can come late, unexpected traffic and more. Especially in the winters, I’m not going to lie to you, it can get quite rough. The trains can get very backed up during the winter, so, if there’s bad weather, be prepared and leave EXTRA early, don’t take any chances!
During peak and busy hours, while waiting for the trains and buses, position yourself to where the doors will be. This way, you’ll have a better chance of getting a seat.
If you’re commuting from Barrhaven or Kanata, or other farther places, make the most of your time on the bus/train! You can do some homework, read or just chill and listen to music. UNI TIP: don’t ever forget your headphones…
When you can/if they’re available, always try to take the express buses. These buses run the same route but stop at fewer places, so it’s a bit faster.
For people living at home and having access to a car, Park and Ride Stations are very beneficial. Certain larger bus stations offer free parking and these stations generally have multiple buses that come through.
When you can, always take the bus/train with a friend, it’s just more fun!
So, even though public transit may seem like a drag, hopefully, these resources and tips will make your life a little easier!