The TTC will implement various service changes next week. Changes in headways and trip times are detailed in a spreadsheet in the usual format.
Eglinton West Airport Corporate Centre Service Discontinued
Mississauga Transit has discontinued the TTC’s contract service to the Airport Corporate Centre, route 32B. The 32 and 32A branches remain.
This change does not affect the 307 night bus service to Pearson Airport.
Finch East Service Reorganization
Service will be provided by three routes:
- 39 Finch East will provide local service on Finch
- 139 Finch — Don Mills will operate via Don Mills Road rather than via Highway 404 to reach Don Mills Station
- 199 Finch Rocket will operate from Finch Station to Scarborough Town Centre via McCowan weekdays except for late evenings, and during the daytime only on Saturdays
This change eliminates scheduled short turns at Warden (39B) and at McCowan (39A/C).
For headway details, please refer to the spreadsheet.
There was a ttc employee at Finch station (Bus level), just standing there handing out a photocopy of the 199 map and on the other side some text.
I wonder how much that TTC employee was making just for standing there, they could of just gotten some tape and the photocopies and plastered them all over the bus bay, 30 minutes tops.
By the way, are there enough people who will use the service? I mean let’s say you and I are at Finch station, you take the 199 but I go down to Sheppard-Yonge then to Don Mills and take the 190. Who will get to Scarborough RT station first? The 199 Route is 17km and 190 is 16km, so essentially from Finch/Yonge I can go the 199 route or the 1/4/190 route and distance wise it is the same thing (I can’t do a comparison via trip planner right now).
Steve: Starting at Finch Station, the one way trip time for the 199 in the AM peak is 46 minutes. If, instead, I take the subway, it’s about 3 minutes down to the platform, 3 minutes to Sheppard, 5 minutes to an eastbound train (allowing for the headway), 10 minutes to Don Mills, 3 minutes up to the bus, 25 minutes on the 190 not including wait time. Total 49 minutes. Given the peculiarities of the TTC, that’s a draw. I would prefer the 199 in that scenario as it is a one-seat ride, and there are fewer opportunities for cock-ups along the way.
Nice. The 139 should always have used Don Mills Road and its rush hour car pool lane. I can’t count the number of times i’ve waited at Don Mills Station just knowing it was stuck on the highway.
As for the 199, it cuts the number of stops by 4 (at Wayside, the Bridletowns and Cherokee) which are quite busy during the rush hours. Wayside was removed for a time from the 39E route, but was added again at the behest of residents that lobbied the local councillor. And people living east of McCowan will most certainly be upset.
While the headway improvement and the routing to STC are great ideas, I’ll wait and see before i judge this to be an improvement.
The 199 Finch Rocket replaces some of the express branches of the 39 Finch East bus (particularly the McCowan 39E branch), while cutting some stops. That alone should ensure that the ridership is there along Finch. The big question comes with the extension to Scarborough Centre. Was there much call for such a collection before? Will ridership increase with the express stops on McCowan, or the ability for the people in the RT to get an express run to stops on Finch (particularly Seneca College)? That’s the gamble. It could pay off.
Is it true, though, that the service also replaces the express function of the 39G bus? I’ve heard a few complaints from people on the far end of Finch East who believe that their run to Finch station has been lengthened. I suppose in some respects, they could transfer to the 139 Finch East bus, and either use the Sheppard subway, or transfer to the 199 Finch Rocket at a convenient transfer point. That’s the downside of the gamble. The question is, how much of a risk is the TTC taking?
It’ll be worth watching how this route performs. Am I right in assuming that this is the prototype for the Transit City bus plan, and we can expect Lawrence Rockets, Kipling Rockets and other rockets as the express bus plan takes effect?
Miroslav asks: “By the way, are there enough people who will use the  service?”
Of course there will be tons of people on the 199 to and from Finch station, as it replaces a plethora of express Finch East express buses. It won’t be that busy at the McCowan end, but unlike other “rocket” routes, it’s not primarily a point-to-point line-haul route. (The Highway 27 rocket is largely a Kipling/Humber College bus; Pearson and York U rockets are self-explanatory.)
Finch East express buses run at good speeds. I would generally prefer the Finch express bus in any trip where Finch buses or Sheppard subway are both plausible routings. (For example, to get to Seneca College at Finch and 404, it’s on average better to take the bus across Finch than to get down to Don Mills station via the 25 or 139.)
32B Eglinton West service should continue as far as the City Limits at Spectrum Way and Eglinton Ave. W. for basic fare and operate on Saturdays. Fare boundary at Skymark & Explorer should be moved to the same place. It is plain wrong for the TTC to charge a second fare to a destination within Toronto such as the plaza at 5555 Eglinton where the driver test centre is located. I have seen many riders caught by surprise at having to pay a second fare on the TTC or $3 cash extra on MT to get there.
Why are the “Rockets”( with the exception of the Airport service) provided at the standard fare when the Downtown Express on Avenue Rd and Mt Pleasant cost an express fare? The Finch Rocket is also providing also providing a premium service.
Isn’t the Sheppard Line still under utilized? Why encourage people off the 190?
At York University for the past several weeks, the TTC has had representatives handing out Ride Guides from Fall 2009. I finally picked one up today, since the guy said there was no route changes (at least for the TTC) since it was printed. I wonder if they will be here after the route changes to give us new maps, or just figured giving students outdated maps was a good way to get rid of them. Worth noting that Brampton/Zum and York Region/Viva have been here as well, only that they’ve been handing out up to date material.
On a plus side, the 199 Finch Rocket looks very promising. It will make going across the northeast part of the city far more efficient than the current options (STC Rocket + Sheppard subway, 401 GO bus). It may also help to encourage the government to fund the central part of the Finch LRT, since now it may be part of a crosstown/ring rapid transit corridor (STC to Finch via Finch BRT, Finch to Humber via Finch LRT, Humber to Kipling via Highway 27 BRT).
Spectrum Way is in Mississauga, outside the jurisdiction of the TTC. However, across the Eglinton Avenue West is Rakely Ct. in the City of Toronto, but unfortunately is a cul-de-sac. The TTC would need to build a bus loop at Rakely Ct., which means money is needed. With the possibility of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT turning off Eglinton to go to YYZ before Centennial Park, such a loop would be of little use.
First of all, the Airport Rocket is also a regular fare service. That’s why it’s called a Rocket and not a “premium express”.
The premium expresses are an oddity. The first ones were introduced in 1988, specifically to reduce pressure on the Bloor-Yonge subway interchange, sort of as a precursor to the Downtown Relief Line. At the time, there was no extra money for this, and the TTC hit on the idea of offering the service at a premium rate, with customers paying an extra fare to cover the additional costs of providing express service.
Note that express services are inherently more costly than a well used local run. This is because a bus that has many stops where many people get on and get off at each stop, carries higher loads per run than an express bus with fewer stops, where the bulk of the passenger load is carried the length of the route. Local buses take in more fares per mile of operation than express buses.
The Rockets arose as a branding exercise to take some “local express” services and give them added prominence. Express runs on established local routes not only speed up travel for many passengers, they take the load off of especially heavily used stops. On some bus routes, the fares generated by serving this ridership made up for the additional cost of running the buses and were maintained as a regular fare service. The first Rocket was the 191 Highway 27 Express (1991), which was basically a supplement of the 45 Kipling and 46 Martin Grove buses and, given that it travels on Highway 427, basically had no choice but to operate as an express.
Steve: James left a separate comment with the following correction:
In 1996, when the province backed out of funding public transit altogether, the TTC had to get very hard nosed on what services it subsidized. A number of regular fare routes and express runs fell by the wayside, but the premium expresses were protected because they had generated a core group of supportive riders who were paying a greater share of the operating costs through their premium fares. So most of the premium expresses survived the cuts and stuck around as the riders returned, and the TTC re-invested in regular fare express services, and launched the “Rocket” brand name (which was accomplished through a poll of riders. The individual who is credited for coming up with the name (Michael) actually comments here occasionally).
So, to sum up, here are a few things to consider:
– The Downtown premium express buses are still around precisely because they charge premium fares. If the TTC charged regular fares for them, their cost recovery ratio would likely fall below the point needed to keep them going.
– The Downtown premium express buses cost more to operate, since their ridership is decidedly more point-to-point, whereas the Finch Rocket and the Scarborough Rocket have a better cycling through of passengers through the bus at each stop along the way. Remember, the 199 Finch Rocket is not a new service, but a renaming and renumbering (and extension) of the 39E Finch East express bus.
– The Highway 27 Rocket and the York U Rocket augment parallel local services and have a ridership that covers costs sufficiently that only a regular fare can be charged. The Airport Rocket is shorter and also has a high enough ridership to cover costs.
Steve: Actually, there was a proposal to make the Avenue Road and Mt. Pleasant express buses regular fare services, but this was not approved as part of the 2010 budget.
I mapped the 199 out on Google Maps for anyone curious to see it.
I would like to point out that the 39B uses Birchmount as its turnback point. Its last service stop is Warden but its signed as 39B FINCH EAST to BIRCHMOUNT.
That is to say its last service stop along Finch is Warden, there are other stops along Bridletown Circle East between Finch and Birchmount.
It looks like the TTC has taken a creative approach to rationalizing the Finch East service. It’ll be interesting to see what the Sheppard LRT does to the Finch East ridership.
Interesting timing for the introduction of the revised Finch East service. I would have waited until the construction of the roadway was complete. Service quality must be suffering right now because of the construction.
Personally, I’m livid about the Finch Express re-organization. But given that it directly affects my daily commute, I’m not feeling very objective about it.
Succinctly put, this makes travel from Finch station to stops east of McCowan much more difficult. When this service begins, I’ll either have to take an express bus and transfer daily, or take a local bus poking along entire length of Finch. It seems absurd that the longest trips on the route will now only be served by local service.
As well, the changes to route 139, while adding service to Seneca college, becomes a far less appealing service to those using it as a westbound service to the subway. By avoiding the highway and sending the buses through the congested bottleneck extending from the 404 offramps to Don Mills, the trip to Don Mills station will now take significantly longer.
And as Mike above notes, it’s a terrible time to launch this right now, with the bus bays at Finch Station being entirely chaotic because of the repairs.
(I’m also curious as to where the NB/WB 199 is going to stop at McCowan. It can’t serve the 129 stop at the south side of the intersection, and then make a left turn, and the existing stop on Finch is on the east side of McCown. Are they going to add a farside stop in front of the McDonalds over the weekend? Will operators be encouraged to hop off there less now that it’s a “Rockey’ service?)
Oh, also interestingly, the TTC missed an interesting chance to be a bit more creative with the 199. At the cost of not a lot more time, instead of turning right at McCowan, they could have sent the bus east to Middlefield and then head to Town Centre via Middlefield to McCowan. This would give a shiny express service to the large amount of new development in the Scottfield infill housing and the seniors homes which would be much more appealing than the existing Middlefield bus. A little slower, but Middlefield is a pretty busy stop.
Something not right about the intervals on the 199. For starters, it appears that the AM rush has the intervals increased from every 2-3 minutes to 4 minutes, whereas the PM rush has the intervals increased from 4-5 minutes to 5-6. One thing I do remember about the times I used that bus was that it got pretty crowded westbound during the mornings and eastbound during the afternoons.
Somehow, I do think that they should have split 1/2 of the service to go to Staines and the other half going to STC, at least during rush hours. It would have accomplished what they wanted and still provide service to those living east of McCowan.
It will be interesting on what the ridership is on McCowan though. In addition to Joe’s comment about a far side stop on WB Finch, they should also have one on SB McCowan, NB McCowan already has one which was designed to serve the soon-to-be-defunct 39A/C. Such a stop on SB McCowan would allow a choice for commuters to take either the 129 or 199 as they so choose. Many a time I have taken local services over the express because of lingering punctuality issues with the express buses.
Also a note about Rakely being a Cul De Sac, I’m sure that buses can use Cul De Sacs so I don’t think running a bus on Rakely should be a problem. The Nugget 131 used to run on a Cul De Sac at Casebridge, the Wilson 96A/D on Carrier goes to a cul de sac, and even the 95 York Mills runs to a cul de sac at Kingston. If that isn’t an option, then I’m sure extending the on street looping from Explorer to Satellite Dr is. The on-street looping lies within the Mississauga limits and I don’t think they have an issue with that. Hell, the 53B to Markham Road looping has been running on Elson Street, north of the city limits for a long time now.
There are always going to be trade offs in service quality. If I read those headways right on the 39, trip totals inbound between Seneca and Finch in the AM peak are going to be about the same but the amount of expresses will be cut almost in half for that stretch. As I’m in that stretch for my morning commute, I’m thinking it will add about 5 minutes to my ride in each day.
If that is what it takes to get people across the north faster, then so be it. But I wonder how many of those people affected out in eastern Scarborough or at Bayview or Leslie will just look at how much longer it takes to get in now and chalk it up to the TTC not able to get things right and thus solidify their vote for Rob Ford.
You would think that an increase in service quality like this would be trumpeted by the TTC but apart from one badly teared up map at Finch, I’ve seen nothing along the route to indicate a change is coming. A driver mentioned something to my wife a few weeks ago, but that was the only thing I heard until I read this.
I wonder of the routing of the Finch Rocket is to encourage people whose destination is on the Danforth Line to take the SRT and Danforth subway instead of the overcrowded Yonge subway. Of course, the SRT is just as overcrowded.
Miroslav Glavic said:
Not knowing for sure, but I would suspect that this employee was on “Transistional Work” (not physically able or medically ready to resume full duties but able to perform “light duties”). This program has been implemented by the TTC to move employees from short-term disability back into the active work force. The employee earns their full wage rate for the eight hours work that they are required to perform. The next step in this process is to transition to half days of full duties and a half day of light duty until the employee is able to go back to their full duty.
Can’t wait to see what happens. I wonder what will happen on Finch WB at McCowan. I think the stop will be at the farside of the street. Unless they’ll loop the buses around Sandhurst Circle to service the NE stop. I bet it’ll look like the 190 stop at VP/Sheppard where the 190 stop is farside and the 85 stop is right on the SW corner.
This’ll be an interesting reorganization…
Just saw the new stop installed on the NW corner on Finch at McCowan across from the McDonalds. Hopefully it’ll be made accessible and a slab of concrete will be eventually put there.
On another note, the stops on Sandhurst Circle for the 39A/C have finally been removed with TTC Service Notices put in their place. A neat and somewhat rude awakening for those who will realize too late on Tuesday morning that their route has been discontinued for the time being until the TTC decides to reinstate it, LOL.
In a “the more things change” moment, the 199 Rocket I was on this morning was short-turned at McCowan.
And in a “lessons not learned” moment that goes at least as far back as the introduction of the 139 route, I still cannot understand why all of the route change notices posted along Finch weren’t in English and Chinese.
I hope the operators didn’t have too many shouty patrons today.
Why does it have to be Chinese anyway?
Perhaps they also need to print signs in Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Tagalog, etc. Or all of the languages in the GTA melting pot. Satisfy one group and you get howls of protest from all the others.
This is one instance where I would give the TTC slack.
Steve: Except for the fact that some time ago the Commission directed that all notices be posted in the languages commonly used in the affected communities. This is an early part of the whole Customer Service issue, but one that seems to have fallen by the wayside in this case.
199 service during the AM peak isn’t working so well. Longer wait times and vehicles at crush load for the last two weeks.