At its meeting of Thursday, January 21, the Toronto Transit Commission — the TTC’s board of directors — approved a staff recommendation that it introduce four new express routes — one Sunday, March 27 and three more Monday, March 28. They also agreed to revise service along another route by adding more branches, starting March 28.
The new services are part of the City of Toronto’s 2015 investment of $95 million to enhance transit services in the city. City Council and the TTC board approved funding to buy 12 new buses to operate along these routes as part of the 2015 budget process and the extra buses are now available.
The five routes:
- 24E Victoria Park express - Starting Monday, March 28, buses operate along a new express / local branch of the 24 Victoria Park route between Steeles Avenue East and Victoria Park Station Mondays during rush hours. However, the TTC is scheduling the buses to operate longer than usually for rush-hour-only service — Mondays to Fridays from about 6 until 10 a.m. and from about 3 until 8 p.m.
- 185 Don Mills rocket - Starting Sunday, March 27, limited-stop buses operate between Steeles Avenue East and Pape Station Mondays to Fridays before about 10 p.m. and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays before about 7 p.m. (These buses offer passengers an alternative to local buses operating along the 25 Don Mills route.)
- 186 Wilson rocket - Starting Monday, March 28, limited-stop buses operate between Kipling Station and Humber College’s North Campus Mondays to Fridays before about 7 p.m., when most passengers are traveling to and from the college. (These buses offer passengers an alternative to local buses operating along the 96 Wilson route.) These buses replace service along the 96E Wilson express route. Friday, March 25 is the last day that the TTC operates buses along the 96E Wilson express branch of the route.
- 188 Kipling South rocket - Starting Monday, March 28, limited-stop buses operate between Kipling Station and Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus Mondays to Fridays before about 7 p.m., when most passengers are traveling to and from the college. (These buses offer passengers an alternative to local buses operating along the 44 Kipling South route.)
- 199 Finch rocket - Starting Monday, March 28, the TTC offers passengers service along three branches of the route -
- 199A Finch rocket - Starting Sunday, March 27, the TTC designates the current route between Scarborough Centre and Finch Stations as the 199A branch. Buses operate all day Mondays to Fridays and before 10 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
- 199B Finch rocket - Starting Monday, March 28, the TTC operates buses along this new branch of the route between Scarborough Centre Station and York University’s Keele campus Mondays to Fridays before about 10 p.m.
- 199C Finch rocket - Starting Monday, March 28, the TTC operates buses along this new branch of the route between Morningside Heights and Finch Station Mondays to Fridays during rush hours.
The TTC has not yet announced the “stopping pattern” for the buses, meaning where they stop for passengers. However, buses on express routes operate as a branch of a regular route and use the same schedule as all other branches of the main route. Usually, they drop off or pick up passengers at all stops along one part of the route and then serve passengers only at major stops beyond that point. Buses on rocket routes operate with separate schedules from regular routes and usually only drop off or pick up passengers at major stops, such as at transfer points.
The gross operating cost of the five new and better express routes in 2016 is $4.2 million (or $5.7 million annually). Staff expect the express routes to attract about 400,000 new passengers in 2016 — 1.1 million new passengers annually when ridership fully matures in future years. The net operating cost of implementing these express services in 2016 is $3.4 million, which the TTC has included in its base 2016 operating budget. The TTC board approved the budget at its meeting of Monday, November 23, 2015 and City Council will, in turn, consider that budget at its meeting of Wednesday and Thursday, February 17 and 18.
TTC and City of Toronto staff are also studying ways to enhance and expand TTC express bus services. The TTC says that “an enhanced express bus route network, which is fully and seamlessly integrated with the rapid transit network, will provide Toronto travelers with a greater choice of rapid, reliable, and visible express bus services.” They’re reviewing the performance of TTC express services — including express branches on regular routes, limited-stop express services and downtown premium-fare express services. They’re also redesigning the express bus network to develop a short-term express-service network (2016-2019) and a long-term network (2020-2025). They’ll present their recommendations to the transit commission in June.
You can read the TTC staff report to the commission recommending these services here. (.pdf)