Last Thursday, Josh Colle and Andy Byford announced plans to expand and improve the express bus network.  This plan, called the Express Bus Network Study, will be voted on tomorrow at the June 15, 2017 TTC Commission.

Here’s a summary of the plan

– 12 new express bus routes, and 5 have been identified already. They are:

  • 29 Dufferin
  • 37 Islington
  • 52 Lawrence West
  • 89 Weston
  • 102 Markham Road

– Improvements to up to 8 existing express routes. They are:

  • 41 Keele
  • 53 Steeles East
  • 60 Steeles West
  • 84 Sheppard West, west of Sheppard West Station
  • 85 Sheppard East, east of Midland Avenue
  • 95 York Mills
  • 96 Wilson
  • 198 University of Toronto Scarborough Rocket

– The possible elimination of the 5 double-fare Downtown Express bus routes.

– All door boarding, prioritized traffic lights, and traffic queue jump lanes would be implemented across the system for further improvements in service.

Here’s what we think

Now this expanded express bus service sounds great, but what are we really getting, and when?

Let’s start off by saying that improving bus service is great. Up to 1.7 million riders could use the new express bus service.  A large proportion of the service is in outer areas of the city and in priority neighbourhoods.  And all of this is for extremely low cost relative to other modes.  

The worrying news is we won’t get better bus service for years.  For 2017-2018, the only improvements are rebranding existing service and a pilot for all-door boarding on the Airport Rocket. The first route improvements wouldn’t start until 2019 and new express routes don’t start until 2020. Full implementation of the plan would not be complete until 2026, meaning it will take 9 years to get 12 new express routes.  We need a quicker rollout.

The rollout needs to be more expansive.  Only 4 of the proposed 12 new routes would be all-day express service, with the remaining 8 routes only running rush hour express service.  The reality is we need 10 minutes or better service on all bus routes across the city, and we definitely need more service to tackle the major overcrowding issues we’re experiencing on many buses. 

We need to do more to give buses a fairer share of the road.  Traffic light priority and queue jump lanes are a good start, but they do not produce the speed and reliability improvements that can be gained from fully dedicated bus lanes on entire routes.  

We are concerned about the elimination of the five downtown express bus routes.  The TTC says these routes are not attracting ridership.  We believe the TTC should move forward on letting riders pay a normal TTC fare on these downtown express bus routes, and not double TTC fare.  This ensures that fast transit is available to low and moderate income people too.  

This plan depends on the money being available, but there is no money available. City Council just asked the TTC to freeze its budget for 2018, which will, once again, force the TTC into facing a significant budget shortfall for 2018.  This will result in service cuts if funding is not provided by the City. Ultimately, without sufficient funding for the existing system, the express bus plan may end up taking away resources from other bus routes across the city, resulting in reduced service elsewhere. The TTC needs to be fairly funded. 

Call or write your councillor to call for improved bus service on all routes and for buses to have a fair share of the road.

Sample letter (please copy, paste, and adapt)

Councillors’ contact information are below the sample letter

Dear Councillor:

I am writing to you today about last Thursday’s announcement of plans to expand and improve the express bus network. This plan will be voted on in tomorrow’s TTC Commission meeting. The plan’s implementation is subject to funding availability so it is a matter that every councillor gets to decide on.

The plan includes: 

  • 12 new express bus routes.  Five have been identified already. They are: 29 Dufferin, 37 Islington, 52 Lawrence West, 89 Weston, 102 Markham Road
  • Improvements to up to 8 existing express routes. They are: 41 Keele, 53 Steeles East, 60 Steeles West, 84 Sheppard West (west of Sheppard West Station), 85 Sheppard East (east of Midland Avenue), 95 York Mills, 96 Wilson, 198 University of Toronto Scarborough Rocket
  • The possible elimination of the 5 double-fare downtown express bus routes.
  • All door boarding, prioritized traffic lights, and traffic queue jump lanes would be implemented across the system for further improvements in service.

This expanded express bus service sounds great, but we think it can be improved.  Here’s how.

We are supportive of the plan, and we are pleased a large proportion of the service is in outer areas of the city and in priority neighbourhoods. And all of this is for extremely low cost relative to other modes.  

The worrying news is we won’t get better bus service for years.  For 2017-2018, the only improvements are rebranding existing service and a pilot for all-door boarding on the Airport Rocket. The first route improvements wouldn’t start until 2019 and new express routes don’t start until 2020. Full implementation of the plan would not be complete until 2026, meaning it will take 9 years to get 12 new express routes.  We need a quicker rollout.

The rollout needs to be more expansive.  Only 4 of the proposed 12 new routes would be all-day express service, with the remaining 8 routes only running rush hour express service.  The reality is we need 10 minutes or better service on all bus routes across the city, and we definitely need more service to tackle the overcrowding issue. 

We need to do more to give buses a fairer share of the road.  Traffic light priority and queue jump lanes are a good start, but they do not produce the speed and reliability improvements that can be gained from fully dedicated bus lanes on entire routes.  

We are concerned about the elimination of the 5 downtown express bus routes.  The TTC says these routes are not attracting ridership.  We believe the TTC should move forward on letting riders pay a normal TTC fare on these routes, and not double fare.  This ensures that fast transit is available to low and moderate income people too. 

This plan depends on the money being available, but there’s no money available. City Council just asked the TTC to freeze its budget for 2018, which will, once again, force the TTC into facing a significant budget shortfall for 2018.  This will result in service cuts if funding is not provided by the City. Ultimately, without sufficient funding for the existing system, the express bus plan may end up taking away resources from other bus routes across the city, resulting in reduced service elsewhere. The TTC needs to be fairly funded. 

We look forward to your response.

Thanks,

District name First name Last name Email Phone
Toronto John Tory mayor_tory@toronto.ca 416-397-2489
Etobicoke North Vincent Crisanti councillor_crisanti@toronto.ca 416-392-0205
Etobicoke North Michael Ford councillor_mford@toronto.ca 416-397-9255
Etobicoke Centre Stephen Holyday councillor_holyday@toronto.ca 416-392-4002
Etobicoke Centre John Campbell Councillor_Campbell@toronto.ca 416-392-1369
Etobicoke-Lakeshore Justin Di Ciano Councillor_DiCiano@toronto.ca 416-392-4040
Etobicoke-Lakeshore Mark Grimes councillor_grimes@toronto.ca 416-397-9273
York West Giorgio Mammoliti councillor_mammoliti@toronto.ca 416-395-6401
York West Anthony Perruzza councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca 416-338-5335
York Centre Maria Augimeri councillor_augimeri@toronto.ca 416-392-4021
York Centre James Pasternak councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca 416-392-1371
York South-Weston Frances Nunziata councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca 416-392-4091
York South-Weston Frank Di Giorgio councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca 416-392-4066
Parkdale-High Park Sarah Doucette councillor_doucette@toronto.ca 416-392-4072
Parkdale-High Park Gord Perks councillor_perks@toronto.ca 416-392-7919
Eglinton-Lawrence Josh Colle councillor_colle@toronto.ca 416-392-4027
Eglinton-Lawrence Christin Carmichael Greb Councillor_CarmichaelGreb@toronto.ca 416-392-4090
Davenport Cesar Palacio councillor_palacio@toronto.ca 416-392-7011
Davenport Ana Bailão councillor_bailao@toronto.ca 416-392-7012
Trinity-Spadina Mike Layton councillor_layton@toronto.ca 416-392-4009
Trinity-Spadina Joe Cressy Councillor_Cressy@toronto.ca 416-392-4044
St. Paul’s Joe Mihevc councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca 416-392-0208
St. Paul’s Josh Matlow councillor_matlow@toronto.ca 416-392-7906
Willowdale John Filion councillor_filion@toronto.ca 416-392-0210
Willowdale David Shiner councillor_shiner@toronto.ca 416-395-6413
Don Valley West Jaye Robinson councillor_robinson@toronto.ca 416-395-6408
Don Valley West Jon Burnside Councillor_Burnside@toronto.ca 416-392-0215
Toronto Centre-Rosedale Kristyn Wong-Tam councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca 416-392-7903
Toronto Centre-Rosedale Pam McConnell councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca 416-392-7916
Toronto-Danforth Mary Fragedakis councillor_fragedakis@toronto.ca 416-392-4032
Toronto-Danforth Paula Fletcher councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca 416-392-4060
Beaches-East York Janet Davis councillor_davis@toronto.ca 416-392-4035
Beaches-East York Mary-Margaret McMahon councillor_mcmahon@toronto.ca 416-392-1376
Don Valley East Shelley Carroll councillor_carroll@toronto.ca 416-392-4038
Don Valley East Denzil Minnan-Wong councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca 416-397-9256
Scarborough Southwest Michelle Holland councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca 416-392-0213
Scarborough Southwest Gary Crawford councillor_crawford@toronto.ca 416-392-4052
Scarborough Centre Michael Thompson councillor_thompson@toronto.ca 416-397-9274
Scarborough Centre Glenn De Baeremaeker councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca 416-392-0204
Scarborough-Agincourt Jim Karygiannis councillor_karygiannis@toronto.ca 416-392-1374
Scarborough-Agincourt Norman Kelly councillor_kelly@toronto.ca 416-392-4047
Scarborough-Rouge River Chin Lee councillor_lee@toronto.ca 416-392-1375
Scarborough-Rouge River Neethan Shan councillor_shan@toronto.ca 416-392-4078
Scarborough East Paul Ainslie councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca 416-392-4008
Scarborough East Ron Moeser councillor_moeser@toronto.ca 416-392-1373

 

 

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