Among the accomplishments listed by CEO Rick Leary in his recent presentation to the TTC Board was the implementation of an Express Bus Network. With the exception of one route, all of this is now in place.
Despite the attention this receives as an “accomplishment”, the fact is that almost all of this network is nothing more than a rebranded version of the “E” branches on various routes it replaced. The list linked below shows the history of express service headways including the “before” values for affected routes.
The only new services are on 902 Markham Road, 929 Dufferin, 937 Islington, 952 Lawrence West, 984A Sheppard West (to Weston), 985B Sheppard East (to Meadowvale) and 989 Weston. Most of these are peak only additions. That was the intent of the Express Bus Network Study in the short term.
The real challenge for the TTC and for Council will be whether they will build on this as the study proposes for 2019 and following years. This includes both additional service and transit priority measures.
New and improved services were proposed in the study. Many changes listed for future years have already been rolled out. Some of the new services were obtained by removing buses from existing local branches of the routes. What remains are the changes that require the TTC to operate more service.
Transit priority measures include both traffic signal priority (something that benefits both local and express buses) as well as “queue jump lanes” at selected locations. Whether any of these will be built soon, if at all, remains to be seen.
There is a larger issue in that many routes that do not include express service also encounter traffic delays. The focus should not simply be on the express routes, but on the network as a whole wherever there are bottlenecks.