News   May 17, 2024
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Intercity Bus Services

Yeah it took me a few reads through to realize that the company is literally called Intercity Bus. I think they have dethroned Book A Ride as the most ineffectively named bus company in Ontario.
Hopefully they won’t dethrone them for worst customer experience. Seen and heard so many stories of the Book A Ride bus just never showing up with no response from the company.
 
Pretty ridiculous how all these separate companies are all chasing the same London-Toronto passengers.

I've been using BusBud to book. They charge a small fee but their trip data is more complete than what Google Maps has.

It's interesting how the increasing number of companies are collectively getting close to hourly service between Toronto and London, including service between midnight and 5am, despite none of them doing more than about 5 trips per day.
 
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Hopefully they won’t dethrone them for worst customer experience. Seen and heard so many stories of the Book A Ride bus just never showing up with no response from the company.
I took Book A ride as part of my review of all the intercity carriers between Ottawa and Toronto and it was awful. It's the cheapest option but I will never take it again.

The biggest issue is that they have no decent stop locations. I stood in the location they described on the website (outside a particular store at STC) but the bus actually stopped further down the mall next to a pair of smelly dumpsters. Not a big deal for me since I saw the bus drive past and it stopped anyway, but one of the people getting on said that she had been waiting since the morning bus which she was unable to find before the departure time. Then in Peterborough, the driver announced we should be picking up 5 people, and although we sat on street outside a Tim Hortons for 15 minutes nobody showed up. Eventually when we departed some people came running across the parking lot, screaming that the bus was supposed to stop at the Tim's. This accounted for 3 people, so there were 2 others who never found the bus. The place where the bus stopped was not visible from the Tim's. Then at the Terry Fox terminal in Kanata (the only legitimate bus stop along the entire route), the guy in the row in front of me mentioned that the website tells you to wait at a particular platform, but the bus actually stops at a different platform completely on the opposite corner of the large bus terminal.

The driver was also an absolute maniac. The bus was limited to 109 km/h, which was the lowest of all the bus lines I tried, but I was on the Hwy 7 trip via Peterborough, so he was driving 109 km/h along the 80 km/h rural highway, viciously tailgating drivers to the point some of them pulled over to the side for fear of their lives. The bus also drove on shoulders which were not bus lanes to undertake traffic. And to top it off, the driver spent the whole time ranting about bad drivers.

My favourite carrier along the route is Red Arrow. I really appreciate the 2+1 seating arrangement with my wide shoulders, in my experience very friendly attendants and safe (but still efficient) drivers. They are the most expensive carrier but the tickets have fixed price of $81 including tax regardless of when you book so if you book close to the departure date (as I often do) it's only a few dollars more than the second tier carriers (Flixbus and Megabus).

Rider Express was also a nightmare with a maniac driver. Their buses are limited to 117 km/h which is unreasonably fast for a bus and encourages the drivers to drive like nutjobs on the 401. The bus itself was quite nice and although the stops were not marked, they are well described on the website and some are even in legitimate bus terminals like Toronto Union Terminal and Ottawa St Laurent Terminal.

My favourite carrier overall has been Keolis Orléans Express. They are nearly as good as Red Arrow (main difference being 2+2 seating so less shoulder space) but they're cheaper than Red Arrow which puts them top overall in my book.
 
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I took Book A ride as part of my review of all the intercity carriers between Ottawa and Toronto and it was awful. It's the cheapest option but I will never take it again.

The biggest issue is that they have no decent stop locations. I stood in the location they described on the website (outside a particular store at STC) but the bus actually stopped further down the mall next to a pair of smelly dumpsters. Not a big deal for me since I saw the bus drive past and it stopped anyway, but one of the people getting on said that she had been waiting since the morning bus which she was unable to find before the departure time. Then in Peterborough, the driver announced we should be picking up 5 people, and although we sat on street outside a Tim Hortons for 15 minutes nobody showed up. Eventually when we departed some people came running across the parking lot, screaming that the bus was supposed to stop at the Tim's. This accounted for 3 people, so there were 2 others who never found the bus. The place where the bus stopped was not visible from the Tim's. Then at the Terry Fox terminal in Kanata (the only legitimate bus stop along the entire route), the guy in the row in front of me mentioned that the website tells you to wait at a particular platform, but the bus actually stops at a different platform completely on the opposite corner of the large bus terminal.

The driver was also an absolute maniac. The bus was limited to 109 km/h, which was the lowest of all the bus lines I tried, but I was on the Hwy 7 trip via Peterborough, so he was driving 109 km/h along the 80 km/h rural highway, viciously tailgating drivers to the point some of them pulled over to the side for fear of their lives. The bus also drove on shoulders which were not bus lanes to undertake traffic. And to top it off, the driver spent the whole time ranting about bad drivers.

My favourite carrier along the route is Red Arrow. I really appreciate the 2+1 seating arrangement with my wide shoulders, in my experience very friendly attendants and safe (but still efficient) drivers. They are the most expensive carrier but the tickets have fixed price of $81 including tax regardless of when you book so if you book close to the departure date (as I often do) it's only a few dollars more than the second tier carriers (Flixbus and Megabus).

Rider Express was also a nightmare with a maniac driver. Their buses are limited to 117 km/h which is unreasonably fast for a bus and encourages the drivers to drive like nutjobs on the 401. The bus itself was quite nice and although the stops were not marked, they are well described on the website and some are even in legitimate bus terminals like Toronto Union Terminal and Ottawa St Laurent Terminal.

My favourite carrier overall has been Keolis Orléans Express. They are nearly as good as Red Arrow (main difference being 2+2 seating so less shoulder space) but they're cheaper than Red Arrow which puts them top overall in my book.
GO transit is governed at 118kmph and have no issues. You need to go that fast as a minimum considering on the 407 everyone is doing 140kmph.

These bus companies have to find drivers, if you have a license then you are hired. The end.
 
Sounds like bus service in Ontario has devolved to something like the wild west. Really the Province should be stepping in to bring some order through regulation and possibly even a compulsory shared booking and info site. Conventional wisdom has been that we no longer need dedicated bus terminals, but random stops at grocery store trash areas are not exactly progress.
 
Sounds like bus service in Ontario has devolved to something like the wild west. Really the Province should be stepping in to bring some order through regulation and possibly even a compulsory shared booking and info site. Conventional wisdom has been that we no longer need dedicated bus terminals, but random stops at grocery store trash areas are not exactly progress.
Why? The whole point of deregulation was to allow bus companies to do whatever with no oversight. Until a whole bunch of people get killed nobody is going to blink an eye.
 
Why? The whole point of deregulation was to allow bus companies to do whatever with no oversight. Until a whole bunch of people get killed nobody is going to blink an eye.
Agreed in political terms, but the reason really is to let these services actually provide a meaningfully useful service.

I don't think anyone really wants to go back to regulated routes and the absolute impossibility of new service we had with the highway board, but a compulsory shared schedule, even if not actual booking system seems about the bare minimum to actually have people aware of what services are out there.
 
Yeah the old bus regulations were impractical and counterproductive. It does not bother me that we totally scrapped them and are restarting from scratch. But based on how it's been going, it does sound like some additional regulations or incentives may be needed to ensure safe and accessible service.

An additional regulation I'd recommend is to require all buses to be electronically limited to 110 km/h or less, similarly to the existing law which limits trucks to 105 km/h. Most bus companies already do this, but after my terrifying ride with Rider Express which reached speeds up to 122 km/h, I looked it up and was surprised to find that it is not actually a law.

Here are the speed limiter settings that I measured on my rides so far:

Megabus: 105 km/h
Book A Ride: 109 km/h
GO Transit: 110 km/h
Orléans Express: 110 km/h
Red Arrow: 112 km/h
Rider Express: 117 km/h
Flixbus: 119 km/h
 
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Yeah the old bus regulations were impractical and counterproductive. It does not bother me that we totally scrapped them and are restarting from scratch. But based on how it's been going, it does sound like some additional regulations or incentives may be needed to ensure safe and accessible service.

An additional regulation I'd recommend is to require all buses to be electronically limited to 110 km/h or less, similarly to the existing law which limits trucks to 105 km/h. Most bus companies already do this, but after my terrifying ride with Rider Express which reached speeds up to 122 km/h, I looked it up and was surprised to find that it is not actually a law.

Here are the speed limiter settings that I measured on my rides so far:

Book A Ride: 109 km/h
GO Transit: 110 km/h
Orléans Express: 110 km/h
Red Arrow: 112 km/h
Rider Express: 117 km/h
I thought GO was limited to 118kmph?

How about requiring signage at "bus stops" with some type of shelter and adequate lighting? Like a gas station as a bare minimum?
 
Maybe not even specific regs on signage; it sounds ok for real intercity stuff, but universalizing it would be a total bar on any kind of flag stop rural operation.

My suggestion would be to tie stops to whatever is declared on that common schedule platform, which should sort out the issues with things moving around, and give a chance to flag unauthorized stop locations (which is, I suspect, the actual cause of such chaos).
 
Maybe not even specific regs on signage; it sounds ok for real intercity stuff, but universalizing it would be a total bar on any kind of flag stop rural operation.

My suggestion would be to tie stops to whatever is declared on that common schedule platform, which should sort out the issues with things moving around, and give a chance to flag unauthorized stop locations (which is, I suspect, the actual cause of such chaos).
Megabus has a square one stop with no signage. How would anyone know where the bus stop is?
 
Megabus has a square one stop with no signage. How would anyone know where the bus stop is?
Assuming they are actually allowed to stop there a description in the schedule ought to do the trick, even if it isn't ideal. Unsigned stops are problematic, but imo not necessarily worth banning; stops that are unsigned and move about without notice on the other hand...
 
After the Ottawa Central Station (bus terminal) closed, each operator chose their own terminal point. Megabus and Rider Express use the OC Transpo St-Laurent bus terminal, above the O-Train. Ontario Northland and Red Arrow use the VIA Station (also with good O-Train access). Flixbus and Autobus Maheux (a Quebec operator) stop curbside in the Rideau Centre/Byward Market area.

The VIA Station could easily be upgraded to become a central bus terminal for all carriers, as it has several advantages: easy access to the 417, the O-Train, a large indoor staffed waiting area, and with enough passengers, it could attract retail and food vendors. But several agencies find savings - particularly Flixbus and Rider Express - by not using proper terminals, for which they'd have to pay rent or similar charges, unless there's little other option.
 
After the Ottawa Central Station (bus terminal) closed, each operator chose their own terminal point. Megabus and Rider Express use the OC Transpo St-Laurent bus terminal, above the O-Train. Ontario Northland and Red Arrow use the VIA Station (also with good O-Train access). Flixbus and Autobus Maheux (a Quebec operator) stop curbside in the Rideau Centre/Byward Market area.

The VIA Station could easily be upgraded to become a central bus terminal for all carriers, as it has several advantages: easy access to the 417, the O-Train, a large indoor staffed waiting area, and with enough passengers, it could attract retail and food vendors. But several agencies find savings - particularly Flixbus and Rider Express - by not using proper terminals, for which they'd have to pay rent or similar charges, unless there's little other option.
That bus terminal far away from downtown in the middle of nowhere, without easy transit access wasn't any good.

Terry Fox is a much better location.
 
Ya, I'm not sure if this is a problem worth tossing a bunch of regulations or public money at. If a private bus company doesn't bother to erect signs, have visible stops, stop where passengers can connect with other modes of travel, etc. or whatever, that sounds like a business decision, perhaps a poor one, but theirs to make. Regardless of whether it is private or public property, they would need to (or should) get the permission of the property owner. The more they have to pay to utilize or equip a stop location, the greater the cost that has to be passed on.

A lot of rural stops are simply at small businesses off the road, or sometimes simply on the shoulder in front of. The related business may or may not be open at the time. A key factor is space for a bus to manoeuvre.
 

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