TTC Route Relettering

The TTC plans to reletter many of its routes to adopt a somewhat standardized practice for the number/letter combinations:

  • Routes that have no branches will not use a letter.  For example, 64 Main will stay as 64 Main in both directions.
  • Routes that have branches will use letters for all services operating away from a common point.  For example, most buses outbound from Kennedy Station will use a letter because their routes have multiple destinations.
  • The “A” branch is typically, but not necessarily, the primary branch.
  • The “E” designation is reserved for express operations on routes that also have local service.
  • The “S” designation is used for any short turn for which a sign is provided.  It is by far the most commonly used letter.

What is frustrating about this change, like so many other pieces of TTC public information, is that the implementation and customer information campaigns are not co-ordinated. New signs have started to pop up even though they are not supposed to take effect until June 22, 2014.

In some cases, the reassignment of the “A” designation as the primary route will not be done in one step because “A” is already in use for another branch.  In these cases, there will be an interim configuration without an “A” branch, to be followed sometime in 2015 with a second set of changes.

In the table linked below, the current and final designations are shown.  Where there is no interim value, the “final” arrangement takes effect immediately on June 22.  Where an interim value is shown, this will be the setup on June 22, with the final shuffle to follow next year.

The rationale, such as it is, for this change is set out in the memo announcing the June service changes:

Changes will be made to the branch designations on 62 bus routes, to make branch and destination information more clear and consistent for customers. With these changes, routes that have only one branch will have a branch number with no alphabetic suffix. Routes that have more than one branch will have alphabetic suffixes for all branches. This will reduce confusion for customers in relation to unlettered and lettered branches.

As much as is practicable, consecutive letters will be used for branches. Branch letters that change will not be immediately reused, to avoid confusion and duplication. In a small number of cases the branch changes will be made in two stages, with branch letters changed now on some branches, and then reused later in 2015.

In addition to these changes, several minor or limited-service branches that do not now have formal branch designations will get new branch designations.

Branch designation changes for streetcar routes will be introduced as the new cars enter service.


55 thoughts on “TTC Route Relettering

  1. This evening I came across a southbound bus on the 24A route, with destination signs reading 24B. All three — front, rear and side. The text was all the same as the current standard 24A destination signs. A rogue example because all the other buses on the route were (are) still displaying the current nomenclature, but it shows that the destination signs are programmed and they are ready to go come June 22.

    (You may note with interest that the 24B destination sign was showing southbound — for a service along a route trunk with a common destination.)

    I am assuming that the relettering is not a change that needs to go in front of the TTC Board, because despite affecting something like 40% of bus routes, it doesn’t affect service levels, routing, or budgetary matters.


  2. I’m not too confident that immediately renumbering the 72 (Pape Stn to Eastern, the shortest branch) as 72A (formerly Pape Stn to Union Stn, the longest branch) is going to go over very well. I like the idea of not having to explain which 100 bus to take (“the 100, but not the 100A or D”) though I will still have to explain which destination to look for at our mid-route cul-de-sac stop (“Eglinton, not Broadview or Don Mills/Wynford”). It’s an odd route.

    I’ll also be happy if as a result of this the Woodbine South destination sign is corrected from saying “Queens Street East”. But that route’s not being renumbered, so probably not.


  3. Renumbering to 24B seemed to be in full effect this morning when I went through (including southbound buses). Signage, scheduling, NextBus, etc. still all refers to 24A. Heard an operator telling riders looking for Consumers Road to take the 24A or the 24B. Buses on the main trunk are still numbered 24.


  4. Hi Steve:-

    I propose that is merely an exercise in job justification. Remember the 504, 505 debacle?

    SB on Broadview at Gerrard, where I would frequently transfer, both cars said, Dundas West Stn. Which one was the King Car??

    Some bright light of a nincompoop bureaucrat thought, well the buses are numbered, unknowing that they also had their route name too. One of my buddies at the TTC was asked, ‘do you know the guy who came up with streetcar numbering?” He said ‘yes he’d met him and had a low opinion of his thinking capabilities’!!

    Same nincompoop perpetuating himself??????


    Steve: The person in question departed this realm quite some time ago. We are dealing with a new nincompoop (or possibly reincarnation)!


  5. I think people who are critical of the change (and I have to admit I am critical of it, as I don’t think the main route needs a branch letter) have to stop thinking of these changes as a make work project, or people up in the planning department wanting to make life hard for riders.

    I had to work on reconfiguring route numbers and letters for a transit system (not in the Toronto area), and I can tell you a lot of thought goes into these things. It is not something that is just done on a whim, and a lot of thought was put into even what letter to use, to make it easy for customers.

    So give the TTC some benefit of the doubt. These things take a lot of work and thought, with the goal of making transit service better and easier to use.

    That being said, I like the current structure for the TTC, and think it is nice and simple.


  6. Michael, what thought exactly was put into the relettering? It’s not clear to me.

    The Shorncliffe 123 has become the Shorncliffe 123B. By the logic of the TTC, it should be 123A, since it’s one of the two long branches (and goes to Long Branch) and the only branch that runs from start of service to end of service, seven days a week. But it’s the 123B. On Islington South, the 110 should be the 110A, but it’s the 110C.

    Of course, moving 123 to 123A would unleash a whole string of further changes (123A > 123B, 123B>123D, 123C stays put) and moving 110 to 110A would rejig everything else (110A >110B, 110B >110C). These were not judged worthwhile I guess. But that just underscores the lack of need for this renumbering. There’s a big conflict between “we have to do this, it’s important and a good use of our resources” and “well, we will make the most convenient changes whether they fit the rationale for the changes or not”.

    This isn’t a reconfiguration in any meaningful sense. It’s mainly the removal of non-lettered branches and dropping them into whatever letter is conveniently available.


  7. Ed,

    I cannot speak to the TTC’s thought as I do not work there, and therefore have no idea how they thought up anything.

    I am telling you from my own experience, that more thought goes into these things than people sometimes give planners credit for. Planners at the end of the day, usually want to make transit the best way to travel.

    Steve: There are two issues here. First, no matter how professional or dedicated the planners may be, this was a change that was sprung on the world without notice. It was not included as one of the TTC’s customer service initiatives for 2014, and given the degree to which they are soliticing comments on the new route map and other changes, it’s odd to have something just appear out of nowhere. Second, the justification for this, such as it is, is rather threadbare, and I am not sure that the “planners” really thought through the implications for users, for now out-of-date travel information, and for the full cost of making all necessary changes throughout the system.


  8. Yeah, Dufferin’s interesting. The 29A and 29B are running at the same time because it still has some of the older buses that haven’t gotten the update, and for some reason the drivers aren’t using the Princes’ Gates destination right now because it’s confusing with the current 29C to Dufferin Stn (From north or south, it’s a short turn exposure), which will be 29C to Princes’ Gates and (If I’m reading the table correctly) the 29D will be the new short turn branch to Bloor. It’s been a major headache on Dufferin basically.


  9. Funny, because just last week, I was on the 112D West Mall to Skymark with the 112B signage.

    About a decade ago, 112B used to exist, which operated to Disco Road, similarly like the present 112C, but via Renforth. On northbound trips, upon arriving at Renforth and Eglinton, 2 bus stops were used: one that is several metres before the other (which allows space for the 112A and D driver to turn left on Eglinton; with the pole mentioning “Route 112A and D Only”) and one right before Eglinton (which was used for branches to Disco Road; “Route 112B and C Only”.) Despite the discontinuation of 112B to Disco Road, the note was not revised. Frankly enough, the “112B” I was on the other week stopped where the typical 112D branch would stop at Eglinton.

    Surely the problem that the renaming of routes have taken effect before the start date, but also, a lot of the notes for route-specific stops need to be revised.

    Also, I seen 45B Kipling to Carlingview twice instead of the current 45A, and I recently started to take the Kipling bus. But the thing is that it displays “EXPRESS” although it does not run express service, unlike the 45E to Steeles Avenue. I hope that the TTC will fix this too.


  10. I don’t get the 45 Kipling “re-model”: was there great confusion previously? I’ll ask this question because I don’t know the answer: why did they change the 45A to 45B and still keep the 45? How is changing from A to B going to lessen confusion?


  11. For the 45 it’s so they can make 45 into 45A later. If they changed now then people would get on the Steeles bus expecting Disco.


  12. Josh: why then not turn the 45 into a 45B now? Or better yet, just leave it – and the other 62 routes – the way it was?


  13. Josh:

    Why then not turn the 45 into a 45B now? Or better yet, just leave it – and the other 62 routes – the way it was?

    I get the sense someone in the office had an entire career leading up to this moment.

    This plan may well be the shining jewel in the crown of a lifetime of accomplishment.


  14. Peter said:

    … why then not turn the 45 into a 45B now? Or better yet, just leave it – and the other 62 routes – the way it was?

    The first option would be possible, except that they want the primary route to have the ‘A’ suffix. In the case of the 45, not only does the 45_ run more frequently all day than the (now) 45B, but the 45B does not run at all in the evenings or on the weekend, so it makes sense to use A rather than B for this branch.

    However, the second option won’t cut it for the TTC. The whole purpose of this change is to set it up so that only routes that have no branches will have a number with no suffix. Once this is set up, a rider will know that if they see a un-suffixed number, they can get on that bus because every bus on this route passing this stop will be following the same route from here to the end of the line.

    Once the change has been completed, I believe you will find the new standards helpful; I know that I have enjoyed this on Route 32 (which should now have moved the 32_ westbound to 32B to fully comply with the system). It won’t make much difference with the routes you have used regularly, but it will make it easier to understand the setup for those who are new to the system or just the route.

    While I don’t see this as a necessary move nor am I totally convinced it is worth the upfront cost, I do think it has some value; more at least than the subway renumbering.


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