OC Transpo: A Comprehensive Seating Guide

OC Transpo, the public transit service for the city of Ottawa,  has one of the largest fleets of buses in North America with over 1000 buses on over 130 routes. The following is an overview of my advice on seating for a selection of the buses operated by OC Transpo.

This guide is written primarily for the average able-bodies bus rider as there is very little available about the regular seating on OC Transpo buses. For those of you who need assistance or have a disability which requires special seating, there are front door ramps and “Priority Seating” on all OC Transpo buses for just such a situation which for the purposes of this guide they will be coloured pink on all diagrams. These priority seats are run on a courtesy basis such that they are available to the general public when not otherwise in use.

The buses that I will be talking about in this guide are the Orion VI and VII,  the New Flyer D40i and D60LF(R), and the Alexander Dennis Enviro500. For more info on the New Flyer D60LF(R) see my guide on riding the buses while avoiding paying the fare.

The seating diagrams for each of the buses is has colour-coded seats for easy identification.

  • Pink seats are those designated as Priority Seating by OC Trasnpo, and are reserved for people who have trouble standing on a bus, and who get first choice of those seats.
  • Orange seats are those near the doors which are susceptible to temperature issues (i.e. colder in the winter and hotter in the summer)
  • Red seats are those which are in some way worse than most of the seats on the bus, the details of which will be explained on a seats by seat basis
  • Green seats are preferred seats as they offer some advantage over other seats (i.e. legroom, proximity to other seats), and are thus the seats you should choose first

Orion VI Seating v2

The Orion VI, released in 1999, was one of the first fully low-floor buses in the OC Transpo fleet. This bus offers a distinct layout compared to the rest of the current fleet in that the rear door is all the way at the back of the bus as opposed to the traditional placement in front of the rear wheels. This means that there is more traffic around the back half of the aisle due to the rear exit only being approachable from one side. The 4 seats near the back, facing the aisle, are marked in red due to the decreased legroom for seats over the rear wheel-wells and exacerbated in this case by the heavy traffic. The 3 seats at the back of the bus marked in orange are directly adjacent to the rear door and thus more susceptible to the outside climate. The Orion VI is also quite distinct in that it offers a large inward-facing Priority Seating section (resulting in more standing room) at the front of the bus with both a stationary row on the right as well as two, more typical, benches on the left. One should also be aware that parents with strollers tend to sit in the first row of forward-facing seating on the left even though not officially marked as Priority Seating. As an overall experience for bus-rider the Orion VI does not provide an easy or comfortable experience due to the minefield of bad seats on these buses.

Orion VII Seating v1

The Orion VII, released in 2008, is a diesel hybrid bus which have been noted for their quiet and smooth ride. The Orion VII, though its return to a more traditional layout, sports a significant planning upgrade over that of the Orion VI. With two folding benches at the front, with one on either side marked in pink, both which are susceptible to the same Priority Seating overflow as mentioned for the Orion VI, the first forward-facing seating rows on both sides are marked in pink as well. Due to the more central location of the rear door on the Orion VI there are now 6 weather susceptible compared to the three on the Orion VI. In the rear section of the bus there are now 7 seats marked in green which, due to their inward orientation, provide more legroom than traditional seats (while also not being Priority Seating), and are thus preferable seating locations. All in all the the Orion VI is an excellent bus with many more good seating locations than bad ones, making it a great bus to be on.

D40i Seating v1

The New Flyer D40i, introduced in 2007, is a low-floor bus which although providing a seating layout similar to that of the Orion VII, does possess some distinct disadvantages. As per the diagram, it is of note that the entire last row of seats is marked in red. This is due in part to the fact that the outside 4 seats provide less legroom than the already narrow seats on most buses, but also because this last row of seats backs onto the engine, which though not a problem on most buses, makes a deafening noise for the D40i passengers in the last row when traveling at speed. The back section of the bus has 4 inward-facing seats, marked in green, which have extra legroom due to their sideways orientation. There are 5 seats around the rear door, marked in orange, which are more susceptible to outside weather. At the front of the bus there are two Priority Seating folding benches, one on each side which, along with the first row of the forward-facing seats, make for a bad seating choice. Thus the D40i, though following quite a traditional layout, has a mixed selection of good and bad seats, making to not quite as reliable a choice as the Orion VII.

D60LF(R) Seating v2

The New Flyer D60LF(R), first introduced in 2001 as the D60LF, and later completely replaced in 2010 by the upgraded D60LF(R), is a low-floor articulated bus with 3 doors and a variety of seating options. The D60LF(R) has two folding Priority Seating benches (marked in pink) at the front as well as the first row of the left side front-facing seating which tend to be used by people sitting with their strollers. There are 4 seats, shown in orange, that are close to the middle door and outside climate it brings along. The D60LF(R) has two rows of inward-facing seating along the middle of the bus, the front portion of which, though being in the path of more traffic, also has a better vantage point and openness do the the elevation over the wheels counteracting some of the disadvantages. The 4 seats in articulated middle section, marked in red, are the worst to sit in as there is significantly reduced legroom from the narrower aisles, meaning that everyone that passes though this high traffic area forces those seated there to move their legs out of the way. These middle seats, being low down and in the articulated section lacking windows making finding your stop much harder. Around the rear door, like at all doors there are seats affected by the outside weather. At the back door on the D60LF(R) there is also an inward-facing bench of 3 seats which, while being near the door, also have increased legroom. The D60LF(R) is a large bus with a complicated layout and while it has many poor seating options does provide a large selection of reliable seating choices in the back half of the bus.


Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 (Coming Soon!!)

Hayward Peirce Written by:

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