Riding in style: massive upgrade to Pontiac bus route

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Kate Aley

It's smooth and it's quiet with internet access, a 36" flat screen TV and reclining seats and it leaves Allumette Island at 10 minutes to 5 am every day. This is the new coach that runs Route 148 and you can be on it. This week, riders taking the Campeau Bus Line to the city were treated to a brand-new luxury coach, a demonstration vehicle in service before the permanent vehicle becomes available in about a weeks time.

Smaller but more comfortable, the new coach is a nimble 48 feet long, compared to the previous one at 66'.

The new vehicle, known as a Crystal Coach Bus, carries 30 passengers compared to the previous 60-person capacity. Plush seating features safety belts, fold-down arm rests and a reclining feature. The permanent coach will also offer a washroom in the back. Air suspension, improved heating and wireless internet will make the long drive more comfortable and efficient.

Nice warm safe and comfortable seats!

Subtle green strip lighting overhead allows passengers to board safely while not disturbing those already aboard.

Security strip lighting in the ceiling

Four small TV screens augment a swing-down 36" screen in the front of the bus. A deal with Videotron means a new release movie is shown every evening on the return trip. Each seats features a USB port and an overhead reading light.

Fold-down TVs along the length of the coach

The bus stops at multiple points along the 148, depositing passengers at three points in Gatineau and four in Ottawa. The timetable is available at transcollines.ca. Tickets can be purchased on board from the driver Garry Belair (cash only at this time; change available) and do not need to be booked in advance. Belair says he waits at every pre-arranged stop for about two minutes, as a courtesy to passengers running late.

Simple and effective, a Transcollines paper ticket

Tickets can be purchased as one-way or return, with weekly and monthly passes available. Belair refers to meeting his twenty regular riders every evening as a "family reunion". "We are quiet on the way to town but on the way back, we're joking around," he said. "They can order pizzas that I have delivered to the bus and keep warm in [insulated] bags for them."

Belair lives in Quyon, leaving home each day at 3 am to get to his first stop by 5 am. He describes driving the bus as "a joy". "The people are happy," he said. "It's not a driver/customer relationship, it feels like family."

Driver Garry Belair.

Belair credits Campeau Bus Lines and Transcollines for recognizing how important reliable, affordable transport is to the Pontiac. "They see the worth in looking after their customers," he said. "There is a real need for this service in this region."

The 'moonlight dome' gives an unprecedented view of the road and the sky. A passenger seat next to the driver is a welcome addition for people suffering from motion sickness.

Further updates and improvements are planned for the 148 service. Stay tuned.

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