The Toronto Transit Commission has announced several measures intended to reduce overcrowding on its buses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a release, the TTC said that overall system ridership is at approximately 32% of pre-pandemic levels, but the bus network continues to see ridership in the 40 to 45% range.
In response, the TTC will be increasing service on busy bus routes to more than what was in place even before the pandemic.
Among the routes set to receive extra service are 36 Finch West, 35 Jane, 102 Markham, 54 Lawrence East, 29 Dufferin, and 41 Keele.
In order to ensure those who are most reliant on public transit are getting the best service possible, service delivery is being guided by ridership demand in Toronto’s inner suburbs, the TTC said.
“We’ve seen that ridership in Toronto’s north end, including parts of North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough, has been higher than in other parts of Toronto, and we will continue to focus on proactively monitoring and responding to demand in those areas,” said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson.
The TTC will also be reallocating resources from bus routes with lower ridership during less-busy periods to busier routes with a higher ridership demand.
Examples include moving vehicles from the 140-series Downtown Express routes, which the TTC said “serve primarily downtown-centred office travel patterns,” to routes such as the 35 Jane and 54 Lawrence East.
To further reduce crowding, express bus service on busy corridors, including on Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue East, was restored on November 23.
In addition, the TTC will re-train subway and streetcar operators so that they can drive buses as well. The training will be done over the next two months so that more vehicles will be on the road in 2021.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been adapting to challenging circumstances and unusual pressures with a focus on ensuring the system is safe for customers and employees,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary. “Every day, our service looks a little different because the ridership demands change.”
“But we will continue to be flexible and provide the best possible service to those who are relying on us now more than ever.”