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Old January 7th, 2012, 06:58 AM   #1
Filip
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TTC Premium Fare Express Buses

Long time coming here, but I may as well rant on something that deserves further due diligence from the typically myopic TTC.

As most of you probably know, the TTC runs a number of premium fare express buses linking awkwardly connected areas to the financial district. There is an extra fare on top of your metropass or a sticker that you can purchase which gives you unlimited access to the service.

As I recently (month ago) started working in the financial district, I began commuting on the 501. As I like to get to work early (830 or before), I would take the 740ish streetcar from Louisa to Bay. Traffic is lighter in the morning and I usually arrived to work around 820-830. The PM rush is a completely different story. The streetcar crawls and crawls packed all the way home. Recent speed reductions on the Queensway ROW means I can't even enjoy the previous racing speeds of the streetcars.. By catching the 510ish streetcar at Bay, I would arrive home past 6, usually around 620. Utterly unacceptable for the distance involved (>10km door to door). I completely forgot about the 145 Humber Bay Express as I was being cheap and didn't want to pay a premium fare. That was until one morning where my streetcar decided not to show up and the next one was coming in 25 mins. For the morning rush this was plain wrong (another reason why I hate trams), luckily the 145 was right around the corner and I decided to take it. It felt like driving my car as we were flying down Lakeshore (very little traffic in the AM) and coincidentally Offenbach's Can Can came on my shuffle playlist.. Appropriate given the jubilation I was feeling. In just under 20 mins, this bus dropped me off at the foot of my building. I was at work before 8!

Ridership was light until this week (I assume vacations kept the regulars off it), now it is fairly full both in the am and pm. By full I mean full for premium standards. There are only about 5 available seats left by the time the bus stops picking up passengers and begins its pilgrimage down Lakeshore Blvd. Cohorts of 'regulars' get on at Legion, most coming from the sole Beyond the Sea condo as the other one is just starting to be occupied and the third is some ways away from completion. Similar story at the condo strip/Marine Parade, as about 5-10 people get on at the three stops there. From here, the bus does not stop until Bathurst and Fleet, and even then, those are only scheduled stops, nobody actually gets on or off.

The TTC, in its infinite wisdom and knowledge, has decided that this bus does not meet its performance criteria, and is to be discontinued in the coming months. Councillor Grimes is fighting against this, and a community consultation is scheduled for the coming Wednesday for users of this bus to fight for its survival. In two condos I frequently visit (Beyond the Sea and Grand Harbour) residents have put up flyers in the elevators asking residents to fight for this service. I think this recent advertising has raised passenger levels as from what I see, there are more people using it than what my colleague tells me are ridership levels on the 142 Express, which he uses daily. Why is this service to be discontinued when ridership is growing month to month? Three major towers (36 floors and up) are about to begin occupancy in the coming year, they will provide dozens of potential users to this service. Let's not even get into what will go up in the coming years.. Dozens of towers and THOUSANDS of units will soon fill up and many of these young professionals will not be bothered to take an unreliable relic along a tour of hipster Toronto. Many will drive and contribute to the pollution and congestion in this city. Finally, it's better to be home in 20 mins rather than an hour and 20 mins. Face it, after work, you just wanna get home.

I understand the perceived elitism of a service catered to a select few, but this service is provided at a premium to those who value their time and comfort. Humber Bay Shores is a fairly affluent community filled with young professionals working in the financial district this service targets. There is nothing short of myopic at cancelling a service that is provided to other areas with similar ridership. Cut the 145, then cut the 142, 143, 144. The TTC was hostile to the idea from the get go, but Grimes championed its implementation. Now it's up for the community to fight for it to stay. Residents in the new condos are particularly strong users of the service (many, many from the single tower at Beyond the Sea), now imagine when two more in that complex open, then Westlake, then Nautilus, then Waterways.. These are all significant towers under construction bringing thousands of potential users to this bus. I will make sure I fight for it on Wednesday, and I hope my neighbours do the same.. This is a service far too valuable to lose.

My 2 cents.

Last edited by Filip; January 7th, 2012 at 07:05 AM.
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Old January 7th, 2012, 07:39 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Filip View Post
Long time coming here, but I may as well rant on something that deserves further due diligence from the typically myopic TTC.

As most of you probably know, the TTC runs a number of premium fare express buses linking awkwardly connected areas to the financial district. There is an extra fare on top of your metropass or a sticker that you can purchase which gives you unlimited access to the service.

As I recently (month ago) started working in the financial district, I began commuting on the 501. As I like to get to work early (830 or before), I would take the 740ish streetcar from Louisa to Bay. Traffic is lighter in the morning and I usually arrived to work around 820-830. The PM rush is a completely different story. The streetcar crawls and crawls packed all the way home. Recent speed reductions on the Queensway ROW means I can't even enjoy the previous racing speeds of the streetcars.. By catching the 510ish streetcar at Bay, I would arrive home past 6, usually around 620. Utterly unacceptable for the distance involved (>10km door to door). I completely forgot about the 145 Humber Bay Express as I was being cheap and didn't want to pay a premium fare. That was until one morning where my streetcar decided not to show up and the next one was coming in 25 mins. For the morning rush this was plain wrong (another reason why I hate trams), luckily the 145 was right around the corner and I decided to take it. It felt like driving my car as we were flying down Lakeshore (very little traffic in the AM) and coincidentally Offenbach's Can Can came on my shuffle playlist.. Appropriate given the jubilation I was feeling. In just under 20 mins, this bus dropped me off at the foot of my building. I was at work before 8!

Ridership was light until this week (I assume vacations kept the regulars off it), now it is fairly full both in the am and pm. By full I mean full for premium standards. There are only about 5 available seats left by the time the bus stops picking up passengers and begins its pilgrimage down Lakeshore Blvd. Cohorts of 'regulars' get on at Legion, most coming from the sole Beyond the Sea condo as the other one is just starting to be occupied and the third is some ways away from completion. Similar story at the condo strip/Marine Parade, as about 5-10 people get on at the three stops there. From here, the bus does not stop until Bathurst and Fleet, and even then, those are only scheduled stops, nobody actually gets on or off.

The TTC, in its infinite wisdom and knowledge, has decided that this bus does not meet its performance criteria, and is to be discontinued in the coming months. Councillor Grimes is fighting against this, and a community consultation is scheduled for the coming Wednesday for users of this bus to fight for its survival. In two condos I frequently visit (Beyond the Sea and Grand Harbour) residents have put up flyers in the elevators asking residents to fight for this service. I think this recent advertising has raised passenger levels as from what I see, there are more people using it than what my colleague tells me are ridership levels on the 142 Express, which he uses daily. Why is this service to be discontinued when ridership is growing month to month? Three major towers (36 floors and up) are about to begin occupancy in the coming year, they will provide dozens of potential users to this service. Let's not even get into what will go up in the coming years.. Dozens of towers and THOUSANDS of units will soon fill up and many of these young professionals will not be bothered to take an unreliable relic along a tour of hipster Toronto. Many will drive and contribute to the pollution and congestion in this city. Finally, it's better to be home in 20 mins rather than an hour and 20 mins. Face it, after work, you just wanna get home.

I understand the perceived elitism of a service catered to a select few, but this service is provided at a premium to those who value their time and comfort. Humber Bay Shores is a fairly affluent community filled with young professionals working in the financial district this service targets. There is nothing short of myopic at cancelling a service that is provided to other areas with similar ridership. Cut the 145, then cut the 142, 143, 144. The TTC was hostile to the idea from the get go, but Grimes championed its implementation. Now it's up for the community to fight for it to stay. Residents in the new condos are particularly strong users of the service (many, many from the single tower at Beyond the Sea), now imagine when two more in that complex open, then Westlake, then Nautilus, then Waterways.. These are all significant towers under construction bringing thousands of potential users to this bus. I will make sure I fight for it on Wednesday, and I hope my neighbours do the same.. This is a service far too valuable to lose.

My 2 cents.
TTC is saying that the time-in-transit for the 145 is not that much less than the 501, meaning that the benefit of the service is not enough to justify the added cost.

Since I've never taken the 145, I wouldn't know. Your observations suggest that the service might be a lot faster ... and given how unreliable the 501 can be, then I wouldn't doubt it.

If you really want the service to stay, then get a few people together and organize them to take passenger counts on the bus. If you get 3 or 4 people reporting on the passenger numbers for a week or 2 weeks, then you would have some evidence to support the argument that there is enough demand for the bus.

I'm sure that Councillor Grimes would appreciate the support ... and since the Waterfront West LRT is not going to happen anytime soon, this is your best chance for express TTC service for a very long time.

Cheers, m
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Old January 7th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allurban View Post
TTC is saying that the time-in-transit for the 145 is not that much less than the 501, meaning that the benefit of the service is not enough to justify the added cost.

Since I've never taken the 145, I wouldn't know. Your observations suggest that the service might be a lot faster ... and given how unreliable the 501 can be, then I wouldn't doubt it.

If you really want the service to stay, then get a few people together and organize them to take passenger counts on the bus. If you get 3 or 4 people reporting on the passenger numbers for a week or 2 weeks, then you would have some evidence to support the argument that there is enough demand for the bus.

I'm sure that Councillor Grimes would appreciate the support ... and since the Waterfront West LRT is not going to happen anytime soon, this is your best chance for express TTC service for a very long time.

Cheers, m
You know, I heard that from a poster on Munro's blog, which is why I was hesitant to use the service in the first place. In the AM, Lakeshore is empty. Conversely, in the PM, Lakeshore is heavier but still moves without clogging. Takes me 5-10 mins longer to get home (30ish mins) but it is still astronomically faster than the 501.. I mean we're talking Warp factor 1 to Warp factor 9.99999 here. Barring an accident on the road, I don't think this changes. A friend of mine drives to work every day and uses Lakeshore along the same strip. He says 98% of the time it's clear sailing, which means the service is reliable and most importantly, quick. It's also refreshing having vehicles coming at their scheduled time. Schedule says 4:57 at Richmond and Bay, well I'll be damned, the TTC vehicle is actually THERE at 4:57.. Hard to believe at times.

Another point of contention that I will be sure to throw at the TTC officials' faces at the Wednesday meeting, is that only the 145's ridership numbers were ever scrutinized. The other express routes never had ridership counts as it was assumed that the premium fare makes up for lower than acceptable levels. This goes exactly with the fact that the TTC was hostile to the Humber Bay Express right from when the community began demanding it. They had no intention of running the service. Apparently the Beaches, that are much closer and much better served by transit somehow deserve their express bus more. Well, I tell all of them over there at the TTC to politely go fuck themselves.

Monday to Wednesday, I will make sure to take photos of the bus in the am and pm, as both times I take it the bus is almost at 100% seating capacity. I'm sure the other riders won't mind when I tell them that their bus is going to be axed. Then I'll print blown up photos of it and throw that in the officials' faces. Fuck I'm pissed.. I need sleep.. I woke up at 6 this morning! (to those who get the reference, you have my respect).
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Old January 7th, 2012, 06:14 PM   #4
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Amazing how a cut is only important when it affects a service you use. Maybe now you understand why so many people have protested Ford's across the board cuts to city services.
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Old January 7th, 2012, 08:59 PM   #5
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Yeah right, Filip is a pretty good conservative(re:abrasive, and selfish)

Anyways, you're going to have to drum up support against the cuts. Showing a few pictures isn't going to hack it.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 01:13 AM   #6
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That was until one morning where my streetcar decided not to show up and the next one was coming in 25 mins. For the morning rush this was plain wrong (another reason why I hate trams), luckily the 145 was right around the corner and I decided to take it.
Thoughts like this make me question if you actually live in this city. I say cut the thing. If the bus isn't seated load plus 30% during rush hour like every other bus in the city, it's a waste of taxpayer money.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 01:50 AM   #7
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If they're paying extra and it isn't draining funds to operate then why cut it? It costs $70/hour to operate a bus in Thunder Bay. I'd guess maybe $100/hour in Toronto. (Higher labour costs, but lower gas prices.) With our fare of $2.50 ($2.00 for punch cards, and an average of $1.85 for monthly passes), you can have a route break even with 30 to 40 passengers boarding per bus per hour. If the route charges a bit extra, the number of passengers required to break even goes down.

The drain on finances is the low-traffic feeder routes. The problem with cutting those is, about 50% of the people on mainline routes (in Thunder Bay at least) are coming from those multiple feeder routes. Cut them, and the mainline routes no longer reach their high numbers of passengers.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 07:04 AM   #8
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^The problem being that bus could be put in use in higher demand routes like say Finch or Dufferin.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 07:25 AM   #9
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Then put express buses on Finch or Dufferin. Finch should at least have some sort of higher level of service than local buses anyway.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 07:57 AM   #10
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Finch has express buses.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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The route began operation in Oct 2009, and a report on the operation of the route was presented at the August 23rd 2010 meeting. According to the report, even in 2010, the ridership for the route was very low, but the TTC decided to continue the service, and take further counts in 2010, and 2011. Here we are in 2011, and the TTC maintains the ridership for the route is very low.
I have never used the route, but the TTC is grapping with budget cuts, if the route is not performing, discontinue it. For all the noise about 501's poor performance, the 145 does not seem to be attracting riders(according to the TTC).

Here are the reports

http://ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commissi...umber_Bay_.pdf

http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Com...wn_Humber_.pdf
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Last edited by JustinB; January 8th, 2012 at 03:43 PM.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 03:56 AM   #12
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Thoughts like this make me question if you actually live in this city. I say cut the thing. If the bus isn't seated load plus 30% during rush hour like every other bus in the city, it's a waste of taxpayer money.
That's why this is a premium service. It cannot be put to the same standards as a regular route. People pay 5.60 to ride this bus.
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^The problem being that bus could be put in use in higher demand routes like say Finch or Dufferin.
Those routes already have a bus every 5 mins or less. How about more streetcars on Lakeshore so people don't have to wait 25 mins for the next one in rush hour?
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The route began operation in Oct 2009, and a report on the operation of the route was presented at the August 23rd 2010 meeting. According to the report, even in 2010, the ridership for the route was very low, but the TTC decided to continue the service, and take further counts in 2010, and 2011. Here we are in 2011, and the TTC maintains the ridership for the route is very low.
I have never used the route, but the TTC is grapping with budget cuts, if the route is not performing, discontinue it. For all the noise about 501's poor performance, the 145 does not seem to be attracting riders(according to the TTC).

Here are the reports

http://ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commissi...umber_Bay_.pdf

http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Com...wn_Humber_.pdf
As I said, based on first hand evidence, the ridership is there.. At least on the bus I take in the morning and evening. I don't know about the 6 other runs of this route. Personally, having a run at 6:30am and the last at 8:30 isn't a very good idea as people in the financial district don't work that early, and definitely don't start that late.

Point is, this is the only premium express route being scrutinized by the TTC. The other ones got away scott free and some have less passengers than this one, and definitely less ridership potential.

Last edited by Filip; January 9th, 2012 at 04:07 AM.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 03:56 AM   #13
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Finch has express buses.
Then it needs more and expresser buses.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 02:49 PM   #14
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Sitting in the bus right now. Two people standing. Lightly used my ass.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 02:57 PM   #15
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38 people on this bus as of 7:56am. Sounds like an excellent load for a premium route.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 07:31 PM   #16
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If Ford hadn't demanded a 10% cut from the TTC they likely would have had enough money to keep this route.

The area definitely needs this bus though, especially given the crazy development there right now and in the coming years as you mentioned. But this city doesn't seem to care about transit, so we all pay the price.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 08:45 PM   #17
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If Ford hadn't demanded a 10% cut from the TTC they likely would have had enough money to keep this route.

The area definitely needs this bus though, especially given the crazy development there right now and in the coming years as you mentioned. But this city doesn't seem to care about transit, so we all pay the price.
Regardless, as this is a premium route, it should not face the same standards as a regular bus route.. Furthermore, if this line is to face cuts, as should all other premium routes, with some showing truly dismal ridership. It's the TTC zeroing in onto a route they didn't want implemented in the first place. Councillor Grimes had to bite and fight his way to get this route, along with the help of the neighbourhoods' ratepayers.

When ALL those condos finally open and ten to twenty thousand new residents flood the area, I will love to see how the TTC will keep up with ridership. It's not rocket science why the majority of those condo dwellers drive everywhere.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 10:51 PM   #18
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To be honest, I'd much rather see a premium route be eliminated than a regular route. But I am optimistic that this route will eventually become regular given the rising population in the neighbourhood.

Sort of off-topic, but a couple of my relatives drive TTC buses, including the night buses, and make over $100,000. When I prodded her, she agreed that it was too much and that she gets too many benefits. It's baffling that we keep cutting services and raising fares when the solution to a lot of the TTC's fiscal woes are staring us right in the face. We've discussed that the province isn't going to give us a dime anytime soon; the union has to be willing to make some sacrifices like us riders have been doing for the last 20 years.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 11:27 PM   #19
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Much will depend on the outcome of the current CBA as it was the first under the Essential Services Legislation, I think I read that it has gone to an appointed arbitrator already
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Old January 10th, 2012, 12:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Point is, this is the only premium express route being scrutinized by the TTC. The other ones got away scott fr-ee and some have less passengers than this one, and definitely less ridership potential.
Is this based on actual empirical evidence or your resentment of having your tax dollars 'wasted' on other people?
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