This morning, OC Transpo announced that, starting in July, it will be increasing its fares in an effort to fund its latest endeavour: future-facing research on time travel. The company ensures riders that the price hike will be minor, and will not impact their ability to take transit—the current estimate sits at an increase of 24.3 per cent. OC Transpo believes that, by partnering with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), it can unlock the secrets of time travel to guarantee transit punctuality.
This new project comes as a result of customer dissatisfaction in OC Transpo's timeliness. Recently, OC Transpo has seen an uptick in reports of tardiness among transit operators. Customers from Orléans to Nepean complain of buses arriving five minutes late, five minutes early, or even not at all.
Abbie, a Nepean local and Algonquin College student, had this to say: "I was told the bus would arrive at 5:30 a.m., and I waited until 7:30 a.m. before a bus even showed up." In Orléans, Bart, a University of Ottawa student, said this: "When they tell you the bus comes in ten minutes, they don't tell you that their estimate is in OC Transpo minutes, not human minutes." Many other loyal transit riders across the city have similar testimonials.
As part of its customer relations initiative, OC Transpo maintains a presence on popular social media outlet Reddit. There, OC Transpo is able to respond directly to customer feedback and gather valuable intelligence on ridership. A troubling report comes from a user who describes "the OC Transpo hat trick", where the same bus was 30 minutes late, 30 minutes early, and on time, all at once.
John Manconi, the General Manager of Transit Services and head of OC Transpo, addressed public curiosity about OC Transpo's time travel initiative this morning: "We assure you that only the best research is going into this. It is our mandate to deliver safe, reliable, and courteous service, and time travel is the next logical step in pursuing that goal."
When asked about the methods through which OC Transpo sought to achieve time travel, Manconi deferred to Dr. Räder Schwindel, the CERN scientist assigned to overview the project. Dr. Schwindel said this: "We aim to use only the safest wormhole technology. Each bus will be equipped with a quantum warp engine which, when engaged, will tear open the fabric of space-time and instantly teleport the bus to the next stop in its circuit at exactly the time it is prescribed to be there."
Some, however, believe that OC Transpo has already been experimenting with this technology, and is only going public with it now. Abbie, the aforementioned Algonquin student, says this: "The app was literally telling me, from 9:00 p.m. until midnight, that the bus would be there. It took until after midnight for the bus to show up. But, according to the app, all the buses showed up!" Many stories like Abbie's point to the existence of a distortion in the space-time continuum around Ottawa.
OC Transpo firmly denies these allegations. The transit company maintains that public transportation is not perfect, and that hang-ups are bound to occur—especially in a weather-wrestling city like Ottawa, which receives upwards of 150 centimetres of snow every year.
John Manconi believes that OC Transpo can finally patch up these sour spots in its reputation with the use of technology previously relegated to science fiction. "With this technology," Manconi said, "OC Transpo can finally guarantee that riders will never see another late or early bus. Never again will it be said that timely public transit is a fantasy."
Unfortunately, the proposed system is not without its detractors. Dr. Achtung Verrückt, a former contemporary of Dr. Schwindel, believes the wormhole technology may be dangerous. "It will get you to the stop on time, yes—but what people don't think about is what happens when you're in the wormhole. Have you ever heard of spaghettification?" Dr. Verrückt went on to describe in detail what he called "the noodle effect", but unfortunately his testimony was too gruesome to appear in public print.
Ultimately, only the public will be able to judge whether time travel is the solution to OC Transpo's problems. Some hopefuls have even been heard whispering that, with this new technology, the LRT may actually get built one day.
Rob Sullivan is a writer, musician, fencer, and full-time human being. He is an Ottawa native, with a mix of Newfoundland and French-Canadian blood. He writes young adult fiction, but has a soft spot for essays. He is also known as "that guy who really likes Rush." Rob has recently written The Crush, an urban fantasy web novel.