Ottawa·Nowhere Fast

Meet 'Team 263,' the Stittsville bus riders who became fast friends

A group of Stittsville commuters have become fast friends after bonding on their morning ride along route 263 into downtown Ottawa.

Group formed more than a decade ago on downtown route

The members of Team 263 started out as 'bus buddies' and now share snacks, boisterous chat sessions and more along with their commute. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

A group of Stittsville commuters have become fast friends after bonding on their morning ride to work.

Every weekday, more than a dozen bus riders squish together in the back of the bus from Stittsville to downtown Ottawa as part of an informal social club.

Some members of "Team 263" — a reference to their route number — have been riding the bus for more than a decade. 

They talk about current events and update each other on their lives. They've held send-offs, complete with cards and applause, for bus drivers on their last shift. They post about their commute on the group's Twitter page.

  • Do you have a bus buddy? Email us your tales of commuting friendship.

There's even a snack day — think homemade cookies, Timbits, even eggnog — once a week.

Audrey Moey, the group's unofficial ringleader, said fostering that camaraderie beats staring at her phone in silence.

"It makes the one-hour commute go so much faster," Moey said.

Audrey Moey says Team 263's camaraderie has kept her taking the bus, even on those days she'd rather drive to work. (CBC)

'Genuine' 

Naturally chatty, Moey just started conversing one day with some of the people she'd see regularly on the bus.

"It started out [with] griping about how long it would take to get downtown," Moey said.

"But as we got to know people better, based on where they were working or what they were interested in, we would talk about everything."

This group of people has really made it worthwhile.- Stittsville commuter Audrey Moey

Michelle O'Keefe moved to Ottawa from Winnipeg almost three years ago, and said Moey welcomed her into the group.

"In Ottawa, everyone is just very polite," O'Keefe said.

"At first, it seems it's just polite on the surface, but as you get to know groups of people like this, you realize how genuine everybody is."

For the past decade, a small group of bus riders have been sharing good times on Route 263 — and off the bus, too. 0:56

Friends on and off the bus

The group has expanded their social activities beyond the bus, hosting events like painting nights, fundraisers and parties.

Some members who get off at earlier stops during the morning commute even say it sucks to leave the party early. 

It started as a way to cope with a long commute on a crowded bus. Now those strangers have become friends. We meet 'Team 263.' 5:34

"We actually have a few people that are on the bus ... that could take the one sooner, but opt to wait an extra ten minutes just to hang out with us," said Martin Stein, who's been part of the group for the past three years.

"There's a few people on the bus who tend to eavesdrop a little bit on our conversations [and] eventually become part of our team!"

Moey said that even when she's had the option to work from home, she's decided to take the bus so she doesn't miss her "bus family."

"Personally, Team 263 has been a real help for mental health," Moey said. 

"I've thought about abandoning the bus and driving to a park-and-ride, or even driving all the way downtown. I've thought about switching jobs and finding something closer to home. But this group of people has really made it worthwhile."

Dan Collings holds a cup made for Team 263 members with the phrase 'Life is better at the back of the bus.' (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

This is part of CBC Ottawa's special series Nowhere Fast, a look at how and why people commute in the capital region. 

We're looking at the people, numbers and stories that are part of your daily trip to and from work. You can read more stories from the series here.

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