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It's finally here

Written by Andrew Fletcher, Transit Reporter
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Plagued by constant delays, bus-only lane arrives at last

Toronto Mayor David Miller speaks to the media about the new busway. York University commuter students will have one less excuse for coming late to class because the long-awaited bus-only lane has finally been opened.

The Bus Rapid Transit line opened on Nov. 20 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony that included special guests Toronto Mayor David Miller and Gerry Phillips, Ontario’s minister of energy and infrastructure.

The busway is a private road that was created for York students to connect them from the Downsview subway station to the York commons area in 13 minutes or less.

The significance of the dedicated bus route is that it allows students to bypass traffic congestion at intersections like Keele and Finch, especially during rush hour.

Miller spoke about the importance of the busway.

‘This is the kind of thing we have been looking for [for] 30 years, and there are finally now some real, tangible improvements’

—Patrick Monahan, York v-p academic & provost

“This busway is not just going to benefit York University and the approximately 30,000 people who ride 1,600 buses daily here, but it [will] benefit the whole community [ … ] by linking buses from Viva, York Region Transit and the TTC to the subway,” said Miller.

The busway runs from York University along a private bus lane through the hydro corridor to Dufferin St. The route then takes a dedicated high-occupancy lane along Dufferin St., which turns into Allen Rd., all the way to Downsview subway station.

The whole trip knocks the time down from the average 20 minutes to 13, according to Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) officials. This is aided by TTC-sanctioned transit priority traffic signals that have sensors that indicate when a bus is approaching an intersection.

The $30-million project was originally announced by the City of Toronto in 2004, and Miller explained that it was pushed back to its late 2009 opening date after a series of negotiations with the university.

“There were some issues that were worked out with York University about exactly where [the route] would go, because York University is developing here, and they didn’t want the busway in the middle of land that was going to be built on,” said Miller.

This was the first Bus Rapid Transit line built in Toronto and it took a year of construction before the project was complete.

Patrick Monahan, York’s vice-president of academic and provost, was excited about the opening of the bus lane.

“Today, as we all know, the traffic is in a constant rush hour from the middle of the day right to the end of the day. So, this means our students won’t be spending as much time on buses [ … ] and they can get to school much more quickly,” said Monahan.

“This is the kind of thing we have been looking for [for] 30 years, and there are finally now some real, tangible improvements,” he said.

The bus-only lane will serve as a lifeline to the university until 2015, when the Spadina subway extension is slated for completion, at which time the bus lane will be abandoned.