TTC staff are recommending that the Toronto Transit Commission approve the Transit City bus plan at its next meeting on Wednesday, August 26.
If the Commission approves the plan, staff would develop a Transit City bus network, offering passengers frequent bus service — as frequent as every ten minutes or better — along 21 bus routes during all hours that the subways and Scarborough rapid transit line operate.
Specifically, the plan proposes:
- establishing a Transit City bus network consisting of 21 current bus routes;
- offering passengers frequent service along those 21 routes all day, every day;
- introducing or improving express bus service along 15 of the 21 routes;
- introducing or improving express bus service along future Transit City light rail lines — until the light rail lines start operating;
- operating all other bus routes more frequently — at least every 20 minutes or better — all day, every day;
- building more transit shelters;
- marketing the Transit City brand to help passengers easily identify where to find frequent transit service;
- improving the quality of service by improving how TTC staff supervise each route;
- installing more transit-priority signals to let buses and streetcars pass more quickly and easily through busy intersections;
- building more queue-jump lanes to let buses pass more quickly and easily through busy intersections; and
- improving bus facilities and bus passenger waiting areas at subway stations.
Establishing a Transit City bus network
The plan proposes that the TTC set up a network of frequent bus services to complement the upcoming Transit City light rail network. The Transit City bus network consists of these current bus routes: 7 Bathurst, 22 Coxwell; 24 Victoria Park; 29 Dufferin; 39 Finch East; 43 Kennedy; 44 Kipling South; 45 Kipling; 52 Lawrence West (with 58 Malton); 53 Steeles East; 54 Lawrence East; 58 Malton (with 52 Lawrence West); 60 Steeles West; 72 Pape; 76 Royal York South; 84 Sheppard West; 89 Weston; 94 Wellesley; 95 York Mills; 96 Wilson; 102 Markham Rd; and 129 McCowan North.
Offering passengers more frequent service along the Transit City bus network routes
The plan builds on last November’s service changes, when the TTC started providing more frequent service on all bus routes in the City. (Starting in November, the TTC offered all bus passengers a frequency of at least every 30 minutes all day, every day on all routes.)
Transit City buses would operate even more frequently. The TTC would introduce much more frequent service along the routes, not just during rush hours but during all time periods, so that passengers could expect a bus to pass each Transit City bus network stop every ten minutes, or even more frequently, at all times of the week. (Buses operating along two of the Transit City bus routes — 29 Dufferin and 39 Finch East — already operate every ten minutes or better at all times of the week.)
Staff expect that improving the frequency of bus service along the Transit City bus network would attract about 1.8 million new customer trips to the TTC every year. Current passengers traveling along these routes make about 29 million customer trips every year, and all these passengers would benefit from shorter times to wait for the bus.
Operating this service would cost the TTC about $10.1 million every year (a lot of that cost supports the wages of new drivers to operate the buses), but it would bring the TTC about $3 million in extra fares each year. The service would therefore require about $7 million annually in the TTC’s operating budget.
The plan also would require the TTC to spend about $2.4 million from its capital budget to buy four more buses to help provide the new, more frequent service.
With the TTC’s rapid transit lines, streetcar lines and future Transit City light rail lines, the propsals would let most TTC passengers rely on frequent and reliable service at all times of the week. The goal is to reduce the number of Torontonians’ using their cars.
The TTC hopes to start operating the more frequent Transit City bus network service in fall 2010.
Introducing or improving express bus service along the Transit City bus network routes
The plan proposes improving express bus service along seven of the Transit City bus network routes that already offer passengers express service: 39 Finch East; 45 Kipling; 54 Lawrence East; 53 Steeles East; 60 Steeles West; 96 Wilson; and 95 York Mills. The TTC would increase express service along these routes by at least 10 percent, and, in some cases, offer express service during both rush hours and other times of the week.
The TTC would also introduce express service during rush hours only along other Transit City bus network routes: 7 Bathurst; 29 Dufferin; 43 Kennedy, 52 Lawrence West and 58 Malton; 102 Markham Rd; 84 Sheppard West; 24 Victoria Park and 89 Weston.
Six of the Transit City bus network routes are too short for the TTC to effectively operate express service: 22 Coxwell; 44 Kipling South; 129 McCowan North; 72 Pape; 76 Royal York South and 94 Wellesley.
TTC staff expect that enhancing express bus services would attract about 2 million more customer trips to the TTC each year. Passengers traveling along these routes currently make about 54 million customer trips each year, so they would benefit from faster service with fewer stops.
Operating this extra express service would cost the TTC about $11.4 million a year, but it would gain $3.4 million from the fares from more passengers. Since the service would require 56 more buses to operate, staff propose holding off on establishing this service until the fall of 2014 when the first three Transit City light rail lines start service. Switching the busy 34 Eglinton East, 32 Eglinton West, 36 Finch West and 85 Sheppard East bus routes to light rail should free up many of the buses that this new service requires.
Introducing or improving express bus service along future Transit City light rail lines
As part of this plan, the TTC will introduce new express service along the 25 Don Mills route and enhance current express services along the 35 Jane and 116 Morningside routes so that until it starts operating Transit City light rail lines along the routes.
Along all three routes, the TTC will operate express services from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and during the daytime Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Operating this temporary express service will attract about 1.3 million new customer trips to the TTC each year. It will also improve 21 million current customer trips by offering faster and more convenient service.
The interim express service will increase the TTC’s operating costs by $8.4 million each year but will bring in about $2.3 million in fares, resulting in a net cost of $6.1 million annually. The new service also would require one-time capital funds of $10.2 million to buy 17 new buses.
TTC staff also reviewed the possibility of operating interim express bus service along the 34 Eglinton East, 32 Eglinton West, 36 Finch West and 85 Sheppard East. These routes will convert to light rail transit lines earlier than the other three routes. Since construction on the future light rail lines along these corridors is in the near future and passengers along these busy routes can expect detours and delays while constructon takes place, TTC staff decided not to set up express service along these routes. Instead they will continue to monitor the routes and set up short-term measures, if necessary, to maintain frequent and reliable service for passengers during construction.
The interim express bus service would start in fall 2011.
operating all other bus routes more frequently all day, every day
The Transit City Bus Network plan recommends that the TTC finally implement the last phase of its March 2003 Ridership Growth Strategy (.pdf) by operating transit vehicles along all bus or streetcar routes in the city every 20 minutes or even more frequently at all times of the week. (Except, obviously, for the TTC’s system of overnight routes, the Blue Night Network (.pdf). )
This will improve service along 75 TTC bus routes at all times of the week except during rush hours. (In November, 2008, the TTC improved service so that all bus routes operate every 20 minutes or even more frequently during rush hours.) Adding more frequent service along all routes will add about 2.7 million more customer trips to the TTC each year. It also improves about 18 million current customer trips.
The new service would cost the TTC about $19.8 million to operate each year, while it would receive about $4.9 million in new fares. The net cost would be about $14.9 million each year. At the same time, the TTC would face a one-time capital cost of $7.2 million to buy 12 more buses to provide the more frequent service.
Building more transit shelters
The Transit City Bus Network plan also examines ways to improve the experience of customers waiting for, boarding and exiting from buses.
The City of Toronto works with a private company, Astal Media, to build and maintain transit shelters at more than 800 bus and streetcar stops throughout the City. The plan recommends that the TTC itself build 31 more shelters along the Transit City Bus Network at stops without sheters where more than 100 passengers board buses daily. The plan also recommends another 44 locations on other bus routes where building shelters would improve customer service. Building and maintaining 75 more transit shelters would cost the TTC $2,500,000.
Marketing the Transit City brand to easily identify routes with frequent transit service
The plan recommends that, once the light rail and frequent bus services are operatin, the TTC use the Transit City brand — even on bus stops — to help passengers readily identify where to find frequent transit services. It also suggests that the TTC develop a communications plan to help passengers recognize the brand and what it means.
Improving the quality of service by improving how TTC staff supervise each route
The plan specifically describes a number of ways that TTC supervisors keep better track of how vehicles are operating along each route.
It also recommends that the TTC continue to improve how it supervises routes by increasing the number of route supervisory staff by 52 positions during the period from 2010 until 2013.
Adding 52 more on-street supervisors will cost the TTC $4.5 million a year, once it has hired all 52 supervisors.
Installing more transit-priority signals
Transit-priority signals — traffic lights that can detect the presence of transit vehicles in or near an intersection and change from red to green — help speed buses and streetcars through busy intersections after they have dropped off and picked up passengers.
Toronto already uses these signals at 350 intersections. The plan recommends installing 1,150 more along 53 bus routes in the city. Installing these signals would cost about $41 million but the TTC would also save significant costs by reducing the number of buses and drivers that it requires.
Building more queue-jump lanes
Bus-only lanes at the right side of a roadway near bus stops increase the speed of buses passing through intersections and allow them to “jump the queue” of other traffic at a signalized intersection. The buses can drop off and pick up passengers and then leave the intersection without having to wait until traffic heading in the same direction clears the lanes.
The plan proposes that the TTC and City of Toronto build more of these lanes at a rate of 2 each year from 2010 until 2015. The TTC’s capital budget already contains $1 million to help build more queue-jump lanes.
Improving bus facilities and bus passenger waiting areas at subway stations
As part of its effort to improve the bus-riding and -waiting experience for passengers, the Transit City Bus Network plan recommends that the TTC make various minor changes to subway stations.
Five priority projects are:
- building another enclosed passenger waiting area at Victoria Park Station;
- building enclosed waiting areas at Lansdowne Station;
- improving lighting in the bus terminal at Don Mills Station;
- installing a power sliding door on the north side of Royal York Station;
- installing canopies over the bus waiting areas at Dupont Station to reduce the risk of snow and ice falling on waiting passengers.
These five projects will cost $4 million to complete.
You can read the Transit City Bus Network Plan report here. (2.1 MB .pdf — 59 pages)
You can read the TTC media release about the plan here.
You can read the TTC staff report to the Toronto Transit Commission about the plan here.