TTC To Order Artic Buses from Nova Bus

NOW magazine’s Ben Spurr reports that the TTC will award a contract to Nova Bus for 153 articulated buses.  The award is already shown on the TTC’s website with a date of August 2, and this will be confirmed by the Commission at its meeting on September 27.

Plans to buy artics have been in the works for a while at TTC, but this is a particularly large order, roughly the equivalent of two years’ of past bus purchases.  NOW lists many routes where these might run (the topic has been discussed in past reports to the Commission), and there are no surprises.

The critical point in any rollout will be the degree to which service capacity is actually increased.  For decades, riders on Bathurst and Queen streetcars have put up with wider headways (which are compounded by delays and short-turns) from the use of articulated streetcars.  The TTC bases service levels on the alleged demand and capacity of the route.  Demand that gives up and walks, cycles or drives isn’t counted.  Vehicles that never show up because of short turns, or which appear in a parade and run little-used, are of no benefit to riders but count toward the scheduled capacity.  TTC service standards were changed thanks to the Ford administration’s penny-pinching to stuff more people on routes that provide frequent service, and there is no sign this decision will be reversed.

With luck, by the time the new buses arrive, a more enlightened transit funding policy will be in place at Council, but until then, riders on major routes shouldn’t count on any improvement.

50 thoughts on “TTC To Order Artic Buses from Nova Bus

  1. Steve said:

    I can hear the TTC now going on about how unsafe it would be having people move between levels of a double decker. An important consideration is that there is a lot more “churn” of passengers and the stops are much closer together on the TTC than on GO, and so there would be reason for concern that navigating the stairs would not be safe for urban operations.

    Sometimes the “TTC Attitude” really makes you wonder. Never mind that London & Hong Kong & Singapore and a few other cities manage to make double decker buses (and in Hong Kong’s case, double-decker trams) work on their very urban, high “churn”, closely-stopping bus routes.

    On the topic of the TTC shops maintaining buses for other transit agencies … why not? If the TTC has the experience, the expertise and the space, why not offer a service to other agencies in the GTA? Or perhaps there is someone at Metrolinx who thinks that they should be getting deals on buying buses (as in the past with OBI) rather than maintaining them? Or someone else who thinks Metrolinx should set up a central bus maintenance facility? (Rhetorical Qs, I guess).

    By the way, I have noticed a number of TTC, VIVA & MiWay buses parked on a lot on the north side of Evans Avenue, just west of the TTC Garage at Kipling. Anyone have info on why the buses are there?

    Cheers, Moaz


  2. In Ottawa, double decker buses are to be used on “express” routes, where passenger turnover is a non-issue. The primary role of the bus would be to fill up driving around a suburban neighbourhood, then run express to downtown where passengers would disembark. This kind of operation is commonplace in Ottawa, but much harder to find in a city like Toronto.

    The reason these buses were bought in the first place is to mitigate the extreme congestion of buses on Albert and Slater streets in downtown Ottawa, to the point that the efficiency of saving curb space by replacing artics with double deckers during rush hours will actually allow those roads to function (barely) for a few more years until the LRT opens. Toronto rarely experiences bus congestion to quite the same degree.


  3. Moaz, the place you mention is a bus maintenance shop. There are a few heavy vehicle shops that the TTC sends buses to.

    Wouldn’t the only thing stopping the TTC from using double deckers is bridge height? While there are a few low bridges in the suburbs, the CP line through most of Mid-Town has low clearances (I believe Jane Street might be the exception). You’d either have to rebuild bridges, or keep them north of Eglinton. Not to mention out of stations with lower ceilings, like York Mills.


  4. Double deckers on the TTC? Oh my god, they do it in London and HK?

    There’s enough bellyaching about the “bottleneck” around the rear of the low floor buses and the wheels of the new yet-to-be-delivered streetcars.

    I find it strange to see that criticism suddenly gone when the subject turns to the charming double deckers that we see on postcards because the above scenario would be far worse than on any low floor vehicle.

    Realistically, how many TTC routes would actually benefit from them? Once you decide that it’s not worth spending hundreds of millions to rebuild bridges, I think you can count the bus routes on one hand.


  5. Doubledecker buses? Where did that come from? You cannot even get people to walk past the rear doors on the new buses with the higher rear level, instead they block the rear door!


  6. Back on topic, I think that the articulated buses could be the start to actually realizing the Transit City Bus plan. This plan has always been on the back burner due to other priorities, but I think that with the articulated buses, we can put this plan into action and make it succeed. I think we need the Transit City Bus plan to succeed to springboard into LRT (Which I think was the original plan).

    P.S. If we wanted double deckers, I think that Volvo (owners of Nova Bus) would be happy to build a few Volvo B9TL in North America, if the conditions prove right.

    Steve: The fundamental point about the Transit City Bus Plan, or any other proposal for improving service, is that the Commission and the left-centre coalition on Council must actively take the lead in ensuring it is properly funded. As things stand, we have lost two years thanks to the Ford-dominated TTC and two budgets where Karen Stintz was trying to be “one of the boys”.


  7. Raymond: The advantage of double-deckers is that the upper deck is considered nicer (there’s a view, and more room), so anyone going more than a few stops is usually glad to go upstairs. By comparison, ‘moving to the back of the bus’ is already a standard cliché for giving up your rights as an individual.

    Not that double-deckers are particularly a priority for Toronto (though Alexander Dennis have already built a Canada-ready model that’s used by Victoria, Ottawa, and indeed GO).


  8. By the way, I have noticed a number of TTC, VIVA & MiWay buses parked on a lot on the north side of Evans Avenue, just west of the TTC Garage at Kipling. Anyone have info on why the buses are there?
    Cheers, Moaz

    That is Wajax. Used to be Harper Detroit Diesel. They service the engines.


  9. Thanks, Grzegorz & Stan for the info

    Regarding the Transit City Bus Plan, I just wish we could go back to a Transit City plan that just looked at Rapid Transit and didn’t have separate plans for different modes.

    If the bus service frequency improvements & infrastructure improvements that were constituted as the “Transit City Bus Plan” were not under said plan, who knows, perhaps some of those projects would have been done on an ‘as needed’ basis and would not have been put on the back burner (buses coming second to LRT) or declared ‘dead’ with Transit City (however premature that declaration was).

    It frustrates me to see that year by year, small projects that would really improve public transit for the users in the short term are pushed back and big ‘long-term’ and so-called ‘visionary’ projects are trumpeted by the media & politicians alike.

    To wit: Mississauga is building a BRT to Eglinton & Renforth but there is no complementary improvements in Toronto … not even bus lanes for the 427. This despite the Ontario Government having created an agency (Metrolinx) that is supposed to be responsible for GTA public transit improvements at the regional level and actually has a role in the Mississauga BRT project!

    Cheers, Moaz


  10. Steve, in regards to replacing buses more often, you’re right the TTC can do a lot of the maintenance in house, including complete rebuilds. Rebuilding a 12 year old bus to run another 6 years is reasonable, as long as the cost to rebuild it, is less then half the cost to replace it. The other issue is as a bus ages it costs more each year to maintain, given a constant duty cycle. There are sensible ways around this though, for example you run new buses in regular service, and once they pass a certain age, they get shifted to rush hour only service, and once they are considered old, they move to replacement service only, since they see less service, the maintenance cost evens out more.


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