By Godfrey Mallion, modified by James Bow
Originally printed in the October 2005 issue of Transfer Points, the official newsletter of the Toronto Transportation Society
Community bus service began in Toronto on October 15, 1990, with the 170 LAWRENCE MANOR route. The LAWRENCE MANOR community bus still operates, serving the Bathurst and Lawrence area of the city, linking buildings where seniors with mobility challenges live to local medical and shopping malls. The LAWRENCE MANOR bus also connects the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care with the Lawrence Square Plaza (Toronto’s second plaza, 1953).
The community bus service initiative was set up to reduce the dependence of the mobility-challenged on Wheel Trans. In 1990 a one-way Wheel-Trans trip cost the TTC $33, and had to be pre-booked 4 days ahead of time. The Community bus could be taken on the day of need with no advanced booking. The patrons could pay regular TTC fares, and transfer with regular TTC routes (including subway stations, especially where elevators had been added), and the cost to the Commission to provide the service dropped to between $9 and $15 per trip.
The LAWRENCE MANOR experiment proved to be successful and, on June 6, 1991 the TTC released a list of areas where a Community bus would be well-used by residents. The identified areas were: Lawrence/Manor, Parkdale, Roncesvalles/High Park, Spadina/University, Yonge/Sherbourne, Bathurst/Eglinton, Bathurst North, Gerrard-Warden, Dufferin/Lawrence, Cedarbrae, Finch/Yonge, Donway/Sunnybrook, South Don Mills (Thorncliffe), Spadina, South Leaside, Sherway/Brown’s Line, Rexdale, East Mall, West Mall, Sheppard/Don Mills, Agincourt, Steeles/Yonge, and East York.
Community bus service began on June 22, 1992 on 401 NORTH BATHURST (Sheppard to Steeles), 402 PARKDALE, 403 SOUTH DON MILLS (Don Mills Plaza to Thorncliffe Park), and 404 EAST YORK (Stan Wadlow Community Centre to Shopper’s World Danforth, via the East General Hospital, True Davidson Acres, and the Victoria Park subway station). Coincident with these services, the 170 LAWRENCE MANOR bus was renumbered 400 LAWRENCE MANOR, bringing that service in line with the 400 series numbering system that had come to be identified with this type of operation.
The 401 NORTH BATHURST service ended as a Community Bus route on September 1, 1995, replaced by a “pulse” service. The TTC also introduced a 425 DOWNTOWN bus on January 3, 1995, but this did not prove to be cost-effective, and service ended on June 16 of that year. More recently, the 405 ETOBICOKE bus began operation on September 12, 2005, serving community amenities around the Eglinton/Kipling area. This was followed by the 406 VARIETY VILLAGE community link and the 407 TORONTO REHAB CARDIAC CENTRE community link buses which began operation on January 3, 2011, serving the Variety Village and Sunnybrook Hospital areas respectively. The 406 VARIETY VILLAGE route stopped operating on May 8, 2011, when a new branch of the 12 KINGSTON ROAD route opened, serving Variety Village.
Community bus service would spread to other transit systems in the GTA, including Ajax (Flag bus) in September 1992, Richmond Hill (May 1993), Newmarket (January 1994), and Oshawa (January 1995) among others, as the service proved effective in meeting the needs of the mobility-challenged with services integrated with standard transit service.
Schedules Effective December 5, 1998
- 400 Lawrence Manor Community Bus
- 402 Parkdale Community Bus
- 403 South Don Mills Community Bus
- 404 East York Community Bus