Comments/corrections to: Dewi Williams
I finished the meeting in downtown Ottawa. It was 5 pm, time to find a 65 bus to get me home. A couple of blocks brought me to Albert Street, and soon a 65 showed up.
I boarded, paid my fare, and sat down at the front. The driver was very polite: "Good afternoon, sir", "Good afternoon, madam", "Mind the step, sir", "Do you need help with the children, madam?" and then we moved away very smoothly. Even the other drivers on the road did not seem to disturb her: she merely smiled pleasantly as one car pulled right across our bows to get to the right-turn lane.
She was still polite and solicitous as we stopped at each of the bus bulbs along Albert street, and the bus gradually filled. Then we were through the downtown area, and came to Lebreton, where we picked up passengers who were making a connection from the buses that had come across the river from the Quebec side.
Once we left Lebreton, we were on the main Transitway west, and the regular passengers appeared to relax and start reading newspapers or books or even to close their eyes for a nap. I was still awake. But what was this? We were moving faster than usual, and still accelerating. We roared up to Tunney's Pasture station, still gaining speed. What about request stops? What about passengers who might want to board at the station? and hey, isn't there a speed limit of 50km/h through the stations?
Regardless of that, we stayed in the passing lane and went flying through the station and on to the Transitway beyond. The same thing happened at Westboro station: and I cowered in the seat wondering how many potential passengers were left behind. We were quickly approaching the end of this stretch of Transitway, and there are traffic lights at the junction with the Ottawa River Parkway. But the lights turned green as we approached, and we went straight through.
Now the parkway is a federal government road policed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they don't fool around when it comes to speed limits, but our driver kept her foot down. Wasn't she worried about getting a ticket?? No, it seemed, for we stayed in the fast lane, whipping past cars and minivans.
The big station at Lincoln Fields was fast approaching, and surely she'd be held up at the straffic lights and the sharp left turn. Luck again: the lights turned green, and as soon as the front of the articulated bus had passed through, it was foot to the floor again and the passengers in the rear of the bus rocked to one side and then back again. Shadowy figures could be seen moving inside the steamed-up waiting rooms as we drew close, but nobody got out in time to flag us down: and again we stayed in the passing lane at speed.
Once through the station, there were a couple of minutes of Transitway before we had to take the cut-off curve behind Queensway station to get onto highway 417 ("The Queensway"). A short stretch here brought us to the exit ramp for Pinecrest. Buses cross Pinecrest on the flat, at traffic lights. Seen from a distance, they were amber, then red. Surely she'd stop! but the lights had only just turned red, and the cross-traffic hadn't started moving: we went through anyway. But I shrank further down in my seat!
The Pinecrest bus stop is on the access ramp where buses re-enter highway 417. As the front of the bus passed, somebody ran out waving. Our driver eased her foot off the pedal, hesitated - and put her foot down again. Oh well, by the time we'd stopped, we'd have been half-way along the ramp.
Traffic was heavy on 417 and our driver was frustrated until we came to the reserved bus-only lane. She flung the bus sideways into this lane, the passengers rocking left then right, and it was foot to the floor time again, picking up speed and shooting past infuriated car drivers.
It was the hill that was her undoing. We flew up the first rise, kept up as the grade slackened, but lost speed as it steepened up to the summit. Other traffic was passing us, and it was clear that our driver was beaten. Over the top, we picked up speed again, but her heart obviously wasn't in it: we continued sedately into Kanata where she became the perfect driver again as she dropped off passengers. "Good night, sir", "Good night, madam", "Take care on the step, sir" and so on. When I got up to alight at the front door, she turned her head to me and asked: "Did you enjoy the trip?".
What could I reply?
© Dewi Williams 1997
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