Toronto’s youth rely on public transit for 48% of all travel within the city (TTS, 2016). Bus and streetcar routes account for 60% of annual TTC rides. Given these statistics, the quality and quantity of TTC surface routes significantly affect the lives of young Torontonians on a daily basis. Further, the bus and streetcar network is essential for the most disadvantaged communities in the city. At present, 24 of Toronto’s 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas rely solely on the bus and streetcar network for public transportation. The most frequent transit concern brought to the attention of the Toronto Youth Cabinet is the reliability of the surface transit network. 14 bus and streetcar routes carry over 30,000 passengers a day with little or no separation from general traffic (TTC, 2017). This leads to buses and streetcars delayed by heavy traffic, turning vehicles or parked cars.
Toronto needs to improve the experience of bus and streetcar passengers, including both improving service and redesigning roads to prioritize transit. The TTC’s surface network is essential from an equity perspective as it allows young people who do not have a car to access education and employment. The TTC has stated that increasing traffic congestion is negatively affecting its ability to deliver service. Council has the ability to make the necessary investments and set transportation priorities that can improve the experience of Toronto’s 317 million annual bus and streetcar passengers.
The Toronto Youth Cabinet suggests the following actions to improve surface transit service:
Transit Priority Measures
Make the King Street Pilot permanent
Expand surface transit priority to additional routes with a citywide plan that includes additional transit lanes
Ensure all surface routes are within crowding standards
Make basic scheduling information available at transit stops for customers who do not have access to a smart phone with a data plan
Begin implementing all door boarding on express routes, approved by the TTC Board as part of the Express Bus Network Study
Explore expanding additional rush hour express routes to all-day
Remove double fares on Downtown Express routes to increase access