Bus riders in and around Toronto will soon have six brand new and 10 "enhanced" express routes to get them from point A to B in as little time as possible.
Currently, the TTC operates about two dozen express services that fall under three different models: Rockets, Local/Express, and Downtown Premium Fare Express routes.
"Most express bus routes save customers at least 20 per cent in travel time compared to their local counterparts on common corridors," reads a 2017 report from the transit agency, explaining that these routes have a limited number of stops (and thus spend far less time waiting for customers to board and depart).
"The average trip length on express bus services is about 7 kilometres compared to 5 kilometres on conventional routes," it continues. "Therefore, customers are travelling faster and for longer distances on express bus services therefore maximizing potential travel time benefits."
The TTC has been exploring the idea of creating a better express bus network for years in order to both boost ridership and support future rapid transit projects such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and Finch West LRT.
Solid plans to improve and expand the network were detailed in a report last year, based on the results of a comprehensive Express Bus Network Study, but up until now, bus schedules have remained the same.
Express buses are also being renamed — or "rebranded," as Munro puts it, "into a consistent 900-series of route numbers regardless of whether they are 'E' branches of existing routes or are 'Rocket' services in the 18x and 19x range."
The first phase of the rollout will take a few months, but transit riders should be able to hop aboard the following express bus routes as of September 2 when the new schedule comes into effect:
- 902 Markham Road Express (New)
- 913 Progress Express (New)
- 937 Islington Express (New)
- 984 Sheppard West Express (Replaces 84E Sheppard West)
- 985 Sheppard East Express (Replaces 190 Scarborough Centre Rocket)
- 905 Eglinton East Express (Replaces 198 UTSC Rocket)
- 925 Don Mills Express (Replaces 185 Don Mills Rocket)
- 927 Highway 27 Express (Replaces 191 Highway 27 Rocket)
- 935 Jane Express (Replaces 195 Jane Rocket)
- 939 Finch Express (Replaces 199 Finch Rocket)
- 954 Lawrence East Express (Replaces 54E Lawrence East)
- 960 Steeles West Express (Replaces 60E Steeles West)
More routes, vehicles, and tiered services will be added over time, all the way up until 2026.
"Overall, the enhanced and expanded express bus network will benefit nearly 70 million customer-trips annually, saving more than 3.1 million person-hours of customer journey time per year," predicts the TTC. "One in every six TTC bus customers would use and benefit from the expanded express bus network."
The net operating cost to implement the express bus network "once the plan has been fully implemented and ridership fully matures" is expected to cost approximately $13.1M per year.
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO