Riding public transit in Toronto is smooth running for the most part, but if you are trying to get on the Dufferin bus at peak times, it is similar to trying to get to the front of a mosh pit at a Motley Crue concert. It is all elbows. Suffice to say, there are far too many people trying to get onto the buses in these heavily populated areas.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) approved a plan on June 15 to create five new express bus routes that include Dufferin St., as well as Weston Rd., Markham Rd., Islington, and Lawrence West. The TTC plans to buy the buses in 2018 and make them available in 2019. The plan would also enhance current express routes to make them more efficient and help the city run better.
There are a few hurdles left to jump through, as the plan remains unfunded. The project will cost $34.2 million for capital costs, which is substantially cheaper than the funding needed for more permanent transit solutions such as the relief line. It was decided that the express bus routes are a good temporary solution while the relief line is being built.
The TTC board voted unanimously to create new express bus routes at the same fare as other buses, but the downtown express bus routes that charge a premium fare may be eliminated. These downtown express bus routes charge double the adult fare of $3.25 at a whopping $6.50. Though the fares are higher for the downtown express buses, the operating budget still falls short and TTC has to provide $1.5 million annually for the buses to run.
The downtown routes provide 1,700 customers with the expedited service, but because the buses deadhead back to the beginning of the route from downtown, it is a waste of the 20-bus fleet. In comparison, the Jane rocket that doesn’t charge a premium fare boards 88 passengers per hour, which is a much better use of the buses. When asked if the TTC could make the downtown express buses the same fare, Andy Byford explained that “it would cost $100 per customer to make it the same price”. The TTC board passed a motion to re-evaluate ridership of the downtown express buses as compared to the new express bus plan and then decide whether to get rid of the program.
Express buses are a viable interim solution while the relief line is being built and will provide faster bus service from high-capacity areas of the city. TTC is moving in the right direction by approving the express bus network plan, but it remains to be seen how they will obtain the necessary funding. Scrapping the downtown express buses would be a good start to save on operating costs, and potentially could be re-allocated towards building the express bus network that would charge the same fare.