The TTC and City of Toronto work on the RapidTO proposal for Jane Street has reached the public consultation stage. There will be an online session on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 from 6-8 pm, and in person Drop Ins on March 22 and 28. Details are on the City’s RapidTO page for the project.
The proposed area for transit priority lies between Eglinton and Steeles Avenues with varying degrees of transit separation.
Options For Discussion
As with the Eglinton-Kingston-Morningside RapidTO lanes, the Jane Street proposal includes the removal of some bus stops in the name of speeding transit.
The TTC proposes removal of 7 of 38 stops (18%) even if no transit priority is implemented. For options 2 and 3 which provide a relatively high level of priority, there would be a total of 16 stops (42%) removed. For options 4 and 5 which provide a lesser degree of priority, 9 stops (24%) would be removed.
Of the 38 stops, 13 are shared by the local and express services and they are not affected. This means that there are 25 local stops, of which Options 2 and 3 would remove 16, or two-thirds of these stops.
The premise for the Option 1 locations is that these have no crossing protection and, therefore, create a risk for jaywalking pedestrians. The additional stop removals for Options 2 and 3 are justified as “optimizing” the spacing. The proposal changes the route substantially to the spacing of express stops.
The unanswered question is why these stops exist in the first place, and what local traffic pattern to they support. Should the change be to improve pedestrian protection and access rather than simply telling riders they must walk further to reach their bus?
Another important question here is how much of the supposed benefit of the project will be gained from stop removal as opposed to provision of an all-day reserved lane for transit. The TTC touts the travel time saving through transit priority, but does not net this out against increased walking distance to and from stops.
The City’s page includes maps showing the changes in the 4-minute walking distance catchment areas for transit stops. They do not include information about stop usage, population density or the effect on major traffic generators such as schools.
Revised Lane Allocation
Jane Street is different from the Scarborough RapidTO implementation in important ways:
- Part of the Scarborough RapidTO area already had reserved bus lanes in peak periods.
- Eglinton Avenue and Kingston Road are six lanes wide plus a median/left turn lane in places. Jane is generally a four-lane street with a shared left turn lane.
Here is the typical existing layout.
Options 2 and 3 reserve the curb lane for transit as well for vehicles turning onto and off of Jane Street.
Option 4 assigns the curb lane for high occupancy vehicles, and Option 5 leaves the street as is with selected widening for queue jump lanes where right turns delay traffic today.
How well any of this will be enforced is anyone’s guess, and the situation on King Street does not inspire confidence.
Travel Time Changes
The anticipated changes in travel time are summarized in the table below. Note that these are for trip over the full distance between Steeles and Eglinton.
The change in stop access times is averaged over the entire route. This dilutes the effect on riders at specific stops by including many riders whose access distance is unaffected. This understates the impact on those who are directly affected. (Note that at an assumed walking speed of 1m/sec the change in distance is equivalent to the change in walking time in seconds.)
The TTC has beaten the transit priority drum for queue jump lanes for years, with only a few examples to show for their efforts. In this case, the provision of such lanes is by far the most expensive option, the longest to implement because of road reconstruction, and the least beneficial to riders. This is really a tactic that should be reserved for key areas with very high transit vehicle congestion where there is very frequent service and a clear payback.
|Option 1||Option 2||Option 3||Option 4||Option 5|
|Change in bus travel times (mins)||0||-5||-4||-2 to -3||-2|
|Average change in stop access (m)||None||+55||+55||+45||+44|
|Change in auto travel times (mins)||0||+3 to +4||+2 to +3||+2 to +3||Minimal|
|Estimated Cost ($m)||N/A||$4.7||$3.9||$2.5||$10.7|
|Time to Implement (years)||N/A||1 to 2||1 to 2||1 to 2||3 to 4|
In a separate article, I will review the behaviour of the Jane 35/935 local and express services. A few key points from that review are worth making here:
- The variation in headways (time between buses) can substantially exceed the travel time savings shown here. Operation of reliably-spaced service would improve the rider experience today with any priority savings coming as gravy on top. Conversely, if headway reliability is not improved, then the benefits of red lanes will be undermined by erratic service.
- The difference in travel time for express and local buses over this section of Jane is comparable to the travel time saving foreseen in Option 2 (full bus priority). It is not clear whether this difference would persist especially in Options 2 and 3 where over 60% of the local stops are removed.
First impression of the news is “wow”…the impression immediately following once the details are known is “whoa”.
As a serial and distance cyclist, it should impress me. But intuitively, it doesn’t.
Has the TTC considered painting racing stripes on their buses to make them go faster?
Will there be REAL transit priority at the traffic signal intersections. Or if a bus misses the sensor by 1 metre or 1 second, do they end up waiting at a red light?
Could the buses make left turns (Steeles & Jane, Eglinton & Jane) from the right lane, if they get real transit priority traffic signals (MTO forbids diagonal bar transit signals)?
Could the headways be similar to the subway headways of every 5 minutes (allegedly) or better? Will bunching remain a problem?
Could non-Jane buses (IE. 158 Tretheway and 170 Emmett) continue to use the proposed removal of local bus stops? 35 Jane could bypass them?
Will the city clear (not just plow) the snow windrows at intersection corners, crosswalks, and bus stops? For all 2 or 3 doors of the buses? So that passengers will not have to mountain climb the snow windrows.
Steve: You are asking for several miracles here. As for the deleted stops, I suspect they would be deleted for all routes for consistency so that people don’t wait at them expecting a Jane bus to stop.
Without the ridership or density information this seems like a war on transit situation … we can’t have crosswalks because it slows down cars, so we will remove stops under the guise of making transit faster, when actually when you factor in the extra walking required it makes it slower for transit users … pretty brutal.
There are places now that do not share stops. Routes that do stop are indicated on TTC pole.
Possible “pilot” would be to paint poles differently if they are restricted use as per suggestion for certain routes to continue stopping.
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What do you mean by diagonal bar transit priority signals aren’t allowed? I haven’t heard of diagonal bar signals, but the vertical bar one is a-okay in Ontario.
Now, the TTC seems to stick to regular traffic lights even for its streetcars where they just have a black traffic light housing instead of yellow and a supplementary “Transit Signal” sign.
Steve: The vertical bar does appear in the Highway Traffic Act as a permission for transit vehicles to drive through red signals. However, the diagonal bar indicating a clear path for a turning/diverging route is not in the HTA.
The TTC has not implemented these in many places where they would be useful notably for diversion routes where streetcars do not normally make turns and have to fight through traffic to get around a corner, and this while on diversion when lost time is really not the goal. This is a long-standing shortcoming.
There are also a few locations where the detection system for white bar signals cannot be implemented because it depends on the electric switch setting, but the detector is within the intersection, not before the stop bar. This occurs where the cross street is very wide (Spadina) and the curves begin inside rather than outside of the intersection.
This is one of many ways the TTC hobbles streetcar operations.
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Further on the matter of eliminating stops.
I note that there is no stop for 935 at Trethewey for westbound 32 Eg.West branch to connect.
Further more, below the proposed RapidTO there are already missing stops at transfer points. St.Clair West for 32B Scarlett Rd both directions and 189 Stockyards also both directions. Likewise, Annette St. to transfer to/from 26 Dupont both directions. Currently, one must get off at Dundas St.W. and wait (no shelter) for 35 Jane local to take you south a few stops. In opposite direction westbound 26 you cannot trasnsfer to 935 northbound. Further insult 55 Warren Park east/sound does not stop at the Jane St. stop where one waits for the local because 55 uses a stop on Dundas (200 feet away and out of sight).
I understand speed is part of Express routes advantage however passing by transfers points does nothing for overall journey speed if one has to add a local between connections.
Why not remove all the stops? That would right-size the facilitation of the optimization of implementing win-win efficiencies in transit synergy.
Considering that the TTC is trying to remove riders from WheelTrans–reducing them to “Family of Services” status or revoking their WT status entirely–increasing the distance between stops will create an even more inaccessible service. What walking speed does the “4-minute walking distance catchment areas” assume? Because I’m sure that I have family members who would take at least twice that long to travel the same distance and at the cost of considerable exertion. I suppose someone will make the argument that they don’t see many disabled travelling, so we can’t design a system that accommodates them, but I’d reply:
Steve: The assumed walking speed is 1m/s. There does not appear to be any allowance for local topology or the presence of major traffic generators.
My preference would be for Option 2, Priority Bus Lanes. However, I will be expecting to hear complaints that it would cause traffic congestion. Despite the major cause of traffic congestion is not buses (nor streetcars), but the single-occupant motor vehicle.
It is too bad that the city continues to give the single-occupant motor vehicle priority over transit vehicles AND pedestrians. The buses carry more people and should be given priority over automobiles. If the buses got the priority they need, there will be less bunching as the buses have to wait to get permission to move before the auto.
Does “RapidTO” include improved headways to make them “rapid”? Will all “RapidTO” include a 5 minute headway (allegedly) like the subway.
Steve: A huge failing of RapidTO is it is seen as a way to make buses run faster, not necessarily to provide more service. In the worst case, the supposed higher speed is used as a justification to reduce the number of buses on a route rather than to shorten the headway which is deemed adequate for the level of demand.
Another major problem is service reliability which I will address in a follow-up article nearing completion.
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So 15+ years ago, a LRT plan was proposed for Jane through Transit City. Now we are supposedly settling on painted lanes. Even, if that plan would have been more technically challenging, it just reflects on lack of ambition/execution that this is what is finally happening.
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The problem with bus lanes next to the curb is that they splash the sidewalks most. Also bicycles don’t mix well with buses either.
So my suggestion would be
2) bi-direction cycle path
3) three foot grass median
4) main roadway lanes
5) three feet grass median again
6) bi-direction GAUNTLET streetcar tracks only widening at passing points / stops where space permits
With the trams on gauntlet track you not only save space but it prevents bunching. Hopefully the union operators can be disciplined enough to handle this and of course signalling would be required. With modern technology this should be safe. But painting the road red is a really lame idea.
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And if not, at least it’ll be funny if the passing loops only fit one streetcar and two drivers coming from opposite directions decide to soak their leader and they end up with literal gridlock.
No. Anything that has pedestrians having to cross a cycle path and that depends on bicyclers not being jerks to work safely is unacceptable.
Steve: I’m not sure how the layout above would have pedestrians crossing a cycle path other than at intersections where it is inevitable.
In any event, this proposed layout fails because of the use of gauntlet track. We are not building some sort of late 19th C tramway on winding, narrow streets of an old European city.
Been to a community meeting for RapidTO Jane Street on Tuesday, March 21st at 116 industry Street. Had to use a car to get there because of the limited headway on the 171 Mt. Dennis bus to get to it.
The NIMBYs were out in force. Most wanted Option 1, while I and a few others wanted Option 2 or 3.
Those who preferred the more transit oriented options, were concerned about the removal of bus stops.
Those who preferred the more automobile oriented options, were concerned about the congestion caused by the removal of a lane of traffic. Ignoring that the main cause of traffic congestion is the single-occupant motor vehicle.
One point we mostly agreed on is the congestion cause by all modes of vehicles around the Jane/400/Black Creek Drive/Church Street/ Maple Leaf Drive intersection. The city needs to add another northbound lane on Jane Street from Maple Leaf Drive to the 400 ramp.