Toronto a step closer to installation of first priority bus lane

Jul 21 2020, 12:30 pm

The City of Toronto is one step closer to an installation of the first of the first of five priority bus lanes.

On Tuesday, the City’s Executive Committee gave the green-light for a report that will enact the traffic and parking regulation amendments needed to install approximately 8.5 kilometres of priority bus lanes on Eglinton Avenue East, Kingston Road and Morningside Avenue.

The report will be considered by City Council at its next meeting scheduled for July 28.

“Public transit plays a vital role in the reopening and recovery phase of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our city’s transit system connects people and communities which will help with rebuilding our economy and ensuring that no one is left behind,” Mayor John Tory said.

“Expediting the installation of priority bus lanes on the Eglinton East corridor will help us quickly improve access and mobility for Scarborough residents, and will help reduce congestion, shorten travel times and improve transit reliability.”

The installation of priority bus lanes on the Eglinton East corridor is part of RapidTO: a network of transit priority corridors across the city.

“The improved speed, reliability and increased capacity of bus routes in the RapidTO network will result in a faster and more reliable commute, which will improve access to employment, healthcare and community services, as well as transit equity and inclusion of Neighborhood Improvement Areas for residents,” the City said.

On July 14, the TTC Board approved a report to fast-track the installation of priority bus lanes and other service-enhancing measures on five of its busiest corridors.

The report is part of the TTC’s 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook, a multi-year action plan for service-related improvements to public transit in Toronto between 2020 to 2024.

The five corridors, which had a combined pre-COVID-19 ridership of approximately 220,000 passengers per weekday, include the following:

• Jane Street from Eglinton Avenue West to Steeles Avenue West
• Dufferin Street from Dufferin Gate to Wilson Avenue
• Steeles Avenue West from Yonge Street to Pioneer Village Subway Station
• Finch Avenue East from Yonge Street to McCowan Road
• Eglinton Avenue East/Kingston Road/Morningside Avenue from Kennedy Subway Station to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
• Lawrence East (East of Victoria Park to Rouge Hills Drive) was subsequently added as the sixth priority corridor

According to the transit commission, Eglinton East is among the TTC’s most heavily used corridors and, during the pandemic, continues to play a “significant role” in moving people around the city, making it a top contender to install first.

The existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Eglinton Avenue East would be converted to priority bus lanes, and curbside general-purpose lanes on Kingston Road and Morningside Avenue would be converted to priority bus lanes.

The priority bus lanes would be reserved for buses and bicycles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and identified using red surface treatment and signage.

The one-time installation cost is approximately $7.8 million.

The faster transit is intended to decrease travel time, which equates to annual savings of $2.5 million in operating costs and a one-time capital cost savings of approximately $6.3 million as a result of fewer buses required to provide the same level of service on the corridor.

These cost savings could allow the TTC to reinvest in other transit opportunities in this corridor, as demand increases in other areas of the city where there is crowding.

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