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New TTC bendy bus arrives in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / August 7, 2013

toronto articulated busToronto's busiest bus routes are about to get a lot more flexible. The first in a fleet of 153 extra-long, "bendy buses" has arrived at the TTC's Wilson facility for training and testing purposes in advance of its on-street debut, tentatively scheduled for early 2014.

The vehicle, spotted by photographer and film maker Alex Titu, is the first in a fleet of 153 high-capacity buses that will begin plying the busiest city's non-streetcar surface routes, replacing 206 existing 40-foot buses.

Overall there will be fewer transit vehicles on Finch, Dufferin, Jane, and Sheppard, roads likely to be among the first to get the buses, coupled with longer wait times, but the TTC believes the reduction will actually improve the quality of service.

toronto articulated bus"There will absolutely be be longer waits," says spokesman Brad Ross. "[But] because you have fewer buses on the route it does allow for greater route management and reduction of bunching and gapping ... customers often tell us they prefer reliability - if your schedule says 'X,' it should be 'X' and not 'Y.'"

For comparison, the TTC estimates the current average 2:36 wait on the 36 Finch West will rise by over a minute to 3:41. On the 7 Bathurst, riders will end up standing an average of 2:45 longer if the bendy buses are chosen to operate there.

In terms of the interior, the artics have room for 77 people, seated and standing, compared to 53 on regular city buses, an increase of 45 per cent. When Presto fully arrives on the TTC, all three of the vehicle's doors will be opened up for boarding, speeding up stop times. Currently boarding and alighting time accounts for up to 20 per cent of every round trip.

toronto articulated busThe TTC expects to save around $9 million a year once each of the new $937,000 vehicles is operating. A presentation made to the transit agency's board suggests re-investing that money in to a "10-minute-or-better" policy or creating special express services where overcrowding is at its worst.

"We had artics in the past and the buses themselves were not a quality bus, so we backed off for a while," Ross says. "It does a couple of things: it will allow us to increase capacity, do all-door boarding, and find efficiencies at the same time."

What do you think of the new vehicles? Do you think longer waits combined with higher capacity will improve service and reduce bunching?


toronto articulated bustoronto articulated bustoronto articulated bustoronto articulated busChris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Alex Titu/Skyrail Productions.



Ben Smith / August 7, 2013 at 11:40 am
FINALLY getting some high quality seating with these new buses! Am disappointed that these new seats weren't used for the new subway trains though.
Oh / August 7, 2013 at 11:54 am
Even longer wait times on Finch? When it's not unusual to be standing at a stop for 30+ minutes? Nope.
Moaz Ahmad / August 7, 2013 at 11:59 am
Welcome to Toronto.

TTC, please don't screw this up...we don't have much room for error anymore.

Oh and if you decide you like Artic buses, Mississauga will have lots of buses available in 2015.

I don't suppose it's worth pointing out that NOVA buses aren't the best looking (See the Flyer Excelsior for an example of a 'beautiful' bus)...but capacity and reliability is what matters.

Cheers, Moaz
cronfeld / August 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Wow just as London is getting rid of the bendy bus the TTC starts rolling them out. Stay with the times Toronto!
RKMK / August 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Route management is hard because of traffic congestion which is so congested because service has steadily decreased/become insufficient for the population demands SO LET'S DECREASE SERVICE THAT'S A GREAT IDEA

For anyone who buys this line from goddamned Ross, take a look at the Bathurst streetcar. It was so in demand, they doubled the size of the cars, and then decided to run it half as often. It gets stuck in traffic constantly, and is totally overcrowded at peak times.
Asher / August 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Very peculiar that they've painted the rear end white. In previous models, they've seemingly painted all the backs black, including ones that used to have some white on the back (GM Classics/Nova RTS post rebuilds). Wonder why they chose all white?

Agree with Moaz, the Xcelsiors look cool. Never been on one, but rode three different New Flyer 60 artics on OC Transpo. I don't really get why TTC has boycotted New Flyer since 1998 even tho a) seemingly every other agency in Ontario uses them and b) the 7300-7350 series, in my opinion, have always been quieter and WAY more smooth a ride than the Orion VII - ESP the 7400-7881/2 series, which accelerate slower than turtles...
Ryengjoe / August 7, 2013 at 01:21 pm
Where are the presto card readers? How many more millions will the TTC spend to retrofit BRAND NEW busses with presto readers in 2 years??
Borte / August 7, 2013 at 01:45 pm
Bend over and take my Presto!
scottd / August 7, 2013 at 02:15 pm
Less buses, sounds great, except for transit users. These low rider buses are poorly designed for people. Other bus systems have wy better buses.
the lemur replying to a comment from cronfeld / August 7, 2013 at 02:36 pm
London had a pretty good reason for getting rid of them, one that we don't really have.
TJ / August 7, 2013 at 02:37 pm
I wonder if these buses will also lower themselves at every stop for seniors and people with kids/strollers?

That line from Ross is ridiculous. If you can't control the "bunching" of 28 buses/hour in traffic, what makes you think you can control 20 buses/hour better? You can't control the traffic!
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Oh / August 7, 2013 at 02:38 pm
People will STILL enter AND exit through the front door only, even with PRESTO.
Terry / August 7, 2013 at 03:14 pm
Bigger buses, but longer wait times on the Dufferin line? The wait times on the Dufferin line (by Dufferin subway stn, going northbound) are historically way too long in the first place.
the lemur replying to a comment from TJ / August 7, 2013 at 03:15 pm
Yes, they can drop about 4 inches.
David L / August 7, 2013 at 04:02 pm
Howard Moscoe will probably be happy that the seats look better engineered for wider cabooses.
Deepak / August 7, 2013 at 04:19 pm
In other cities where they have these, eg Vancouver, they tend to be used as an excuse for providing much less frequent service. The TTC should be explicit about whether the PRIMARY goal for these is to reduce crowding / bunching or to save money. I get that you can do both, sometimes, but you still need to have a clear priority when it comes to route vehicle assignments.
We should watch this closely to be sure that the less-frequent service actually results in better reliability or not.
Cautiously optimistic...
tommy / August 7, 2013 at 04:53 pm
PLEASE open the back doors before lowering the vehicle. These same buses are used on the YRT, and their drivers insist on trapping everyone in the bus until they finish lowering the bus, wasting time at every stop.
zkpxo / August 7, 2013 at 04:55 pm
34 Eglinton East and 85 Sheppard East please... omfg
Moaz Ahmad / August 7, 2013 at 05:13 pm
@Asher TTC has avoided articulated buses because of the problems they had with the poor design of the Ikarus buses they purchased in 1986-87 via Ontario Bus Industries/Orion. One of the requirements for artics put in place afterwards was a full stainless steel frame, which most other manufacturers were not able to provide. Mississauga's first fleet of New Flyer low-Floor articulated buses (1997 if I recall correctly) rusted out very quickly. Fortunately the 2003 purchase was much more reliable...which is why TTC should look at them once Mississauga stops using them after 12 years (taking us to 2015).

I had originally thought the TTC could lease the Mississauga artic buses retired in 2015 and use them as shuttle buses during the SRT conversion to LRT ... keep them running until they were no longer needed...but I guess that won't be happening.

The best thing TTC could do for all these artic buses is run them as frequently as possible but also add limited stop Express/Rocket buses to these routes as well.
Tina / August 7, 2013 at 05:15 pm
LONGER buses/streetcars = LONGER waiting times.
cronfeld / August 7, 2013 at 05:34 pm
wow 1 million a vehicle? That's about 150million they are spending on these new buses, plus factor in more for the maintenance as they will have to spend millions training their maintenance crew and will have to install new systems to accommodate them, plus will probably have to retrain all their drivers as well. Plus when you factor in the procurement cost and other "project" costs we are probably looking at something closer to 200million for these buses.

Now the TTC say they are looking at saving around 9 million a year, which will doubtless be the absolute most they will be able to save. Those savings probably come from potential better fuel efficiency and also reduced labour costs as they will be able to carry the same number of passengers with fewer drivers. Now reducing fuel consumption is great but counting on laying off TTC workers is not so good and I can imagine their union wouldn't be too happy about it either, so they will probably save about half that amount if that. So we are looking at about 50 years before this investment starts to pay off. Not very smart TTC. And especially as those "savings" come off the back of us passengers who will have to wait longer for a bus and see our journey times increased.
Al replying to a comment from cronfeld / August 7, 2013 at 05:49 pm
Buses that have outlived their usefulness will be retired. The buses need to be replaced anyway. These save money because they can run fewer buses than if they purchased smaller buses. Your math is misguided. $9 million is the savings over smaller vehicles, not the total revenue. The routes will be running on are already money makers, and this will increase that.
cronfeld replying to a comment from Al / August 7, 2013 at 06:52 pm
not really, we are looking at the difference in the running costs when using one type of bus as opposed to the other. The TTC would have used best case scenarios in all these calculations as they tried to steamroller in the bendy buses.
Maxwell / August 7, 2013 at 07:03 pm
I don't like the idea of all door access. The street car POP system is a horribly abused money pit. I'd rather wait an extra second and make sure they'll be able to afford more buses next year.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from cronfeld / August 7, 2013 at 07:33 pm
Buses maybe expected to have a life of about 12 years in the states, but the TTC prefers to retire them at 15 years. Streetcars and subway cars have a life about 30+ years.
dnr / August 7, 2013 at 07:51 pm
I love it because rob ford will hate it
Vivian / August 7, 2013 at 09:56 pm
I regularly use the TTC as well as Markham's Viva, and I LOVE Viva, they have timed stops, the drivers actually care about timed stops, I never know when a TTC bus is going to arrive but Viva is on time!

Maybe it's because TTC have a longer route. Maybe it's time to offer a tap and pay option, like what Hong Kong has with the Octopus card, I don't fancy ever going back to HK because it's cramped and smoggy, but I love their octopus card, so easy to use, and it can be as anonymous as cash if you load it up with cash. When I was in HK I loaded up daily at a 24hr store with the money I was going to use in a day, so I wasn't going to lose much even if someone stole it. It's much better than paying with a PHONE, because the card is lighter and will survive you accidentally smacking it hard!
TVP / August 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm
Seriously... Who plans these things. New streetcars, but oh, we didn't do our homework, so now we have to redo all of the bays, because the new ones don't fit. Expect the same with these buses. How they heck are they going to get into the stations? Longer waits is an understatement. Be prepared folks, this is going to be a mess. Think about 100 angry people getting onto one of these things, after waiting 30 or 40 min. because of traffic congestion. Put all of this money into making more subway line, that can move people below ground, where there are no traffic issues and not slowed to a crawl during a snow storm.

Lex / August 8, 2013 at 10:18 am
Hold on! They each cost $937,000 or all of them together cost $937,000?
the lemur replying to a comment from TVP / August 8, 2013 at 10:42 am
'Streetcar bays' - what are those?

The bendy buses are only going to be on certain routes and at stations that can already accommodate them.
the lemur replying to a comment from Lex / August 8, 2013 at 10:49 am
Each. Sure, a Bugatti Veyron costs only slightly more, but it doesn't have as many seats.
Nick / August 8, 2013 at 11:18 am
These buses won't last long in Toronto. With transit users who think they are entitled to everything, these buses will get destroyed. Food, feces, urine, needles, marker everwhere, etc, etc. The honest people of toronto right....not. Time to start charging a seperate fare for baby strollers. As a person with a disability, LOWERING A BUS IS FOR THE HANDICAPPED AND DISABLED. NOT, I REPEAT NOT FOR BABY STROLLERS AND BUNDLE BUGGIES. Any TTC driver reading this, respect our wishes as the public and STOP lowering the bus for baby strollers. This is a subject I am so passionate about and love to argue.
cronfeld replying to a comment from Nick / August 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm
wow what horrible things have happened in your life to make you such a mean bitter person?
the lemur replying to a comment from Nick / August 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm
Yeah, just like the current buses got 'destroyed' by those things ... not.

Lowering a bus is for anyone and anything that needs easier access, end of story. That's why there are buses that lower at every stop.

PS, it's 'separate', dumbass. Time to start charging extra for people who can't spell.

Cliff S replying to a comment from Lex / August 8, 2013 at 03:05 pm
Yea Lex, $937,000 for all of them sounds reasonable :P
(BTW - $937,000/153busses=$6,124/ea, less then an average used Hyundai.)

Not going to happen, it's $937K per bus.
Ryan / August 8, 2013 at 03:36 pm
I like how the vehicle is long and wheelchair accessible and the low floor also helps people with disabilities instead of the step buses. It's interior looks great can't wait until they come out!
Simon Tarses / August 9, 2013 at 05:36 am
So we're giving up light rail for this shit, when they don't last long and rust like nobody's business? When are people going to learn that street rail is better?
Todd replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / August 9, 2013 at 01:23 pm
When they actually run on ROWs. When King, College, Queen, and Dundas are turned into one way streets. When the city stops trying to be Houston.

So basically never.
Sicheng Lu / August 10, 2013 at 04:56 pm
Which bus will replace and why need bendy bus and when it will service start with route and gauge will take in home
Sicheng Lu replying to a comment from Ryan / August 10, 2013 at 04:57 pm
Yea it beautiful
Anonymous / August 23, 2013 at 10:51 am
Reducing service for longer buses is not a good idea. The TTC doesn't know that the longer wait times cause LARGER CROWDS of people!. It makes no damn sense to make the buses larger and the crowds at the bus stop larger, you'll just end up with over crowded larger buses which makes the TTC look like the most stupid system ON EARTH! I'm not trying to be mean. Also why would the TTC drill a big long tunnel under Eglinton Avenue and place the "LRT" under there, why not just put subway trains on the Eglinton crosstown line. The TTC has a history of making the most craziest choices of all time! One of their biggest crazy choices where buying HUNDREDS of low quality Orion VII buses especially the STINKING BLASTED HYBRID-ELECTRICs! (Fleet number 1000-1829) that keep on giving problems. The TTC should of learned from the ORION 6 (VI) CNG (fleet number 9200-9249) those buses where the worst. The TTC keeps on buying low quality buses from Orion. Each one of the Orion VII hybrid-electrics cost $750,000! Now the TTC wants to buy the novabus LFS Artic and reduce service. Do you see what I am talking about? One great big stupid choice after another.
the lemur replying to a comment from Anonymous / August 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Maybe those larger crowds could, y'know, adjust to the new schedule and show up closer to the actual time the bus is supposed to arrive, maybe check the schedule, sign up for TTC service alerts, possibly even dress appropriately for the weather so that waiting outdoors doesn't seem like the gruelling hardship they make it out to be?

As for Eglinton, the Crosstown will extend far beyond the tunnelled stretch to places where tunnelling provides no great benefit, and where subway capacity isn't justified. Running actual subway trains would turn Eglinton into another version of the Allen.

The initial problem with the hybrid buses was mainly that the TTC didn't RTFM and wasn't operating them right in terms of the battery charging.
Flatbush / August 27, 2013 at 12:13 am
It's about time TTC gets artic buses. Although, I don't think its a smart idea to reduce service on the selected routes because the buses are going to be just as crowded. I also think that 34 Eglinton East, 131E Nugget and 96 Wilson needs artic buses as well.
Baba / September 5, 2013 at 09:36 am
Seems everyone is in agreement that the TTC is making a big mistake with articulated buses. Why do the TTC have such short memories, do they not remember the last time they had them.
the lemur replying to a comment from Baba / September 5, 2013 at 10:17 am
No, not everyone is in agreement.

As for what happened the last time the TTC had articulated buses, the problem was with that particular model (Ikarus) and with assembly quality, not with articulated buses in general.
Rob replying to a comment from cronfeld / September 20, 2013 at 11:16 pm
Why would London DO that?! It's almost as ILLOGICAL as OTTAWA getting rid of THEIR BIKE RACKS on their buses!
Rob replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / September 20, 2013 at 11:24 pm
Simon Tarses, we are getting BOTH! These buses will just be on the busy routes UNTIL the LRT lines are COMPLETED, and THEN the buses will move down to the NEXT busiest bus routes!
Rob replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / September 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm
Flatbrush, I'm sure that the 34 Eglinton East, 131E Nugget and 96 Wilson WILL get those articulated buses TOO, after ALL, they ARE for the BUSIEST ROUTES IN TORONTO, AND, as for the number of BUSES, I'm sure that they will have a EQUAL amount of artics AS 40 foot buses that they CURRENTLY have NOW, otherwise they wouldn't have even ORDERED them!
Rob replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / September 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm
Baba, the T.T.C. HAS learned from their past mistakes! The LAST fleet of articulated buses were a PIECE OF SHIT! THESE are STATE OF THE ART TOP CLASS Articulated buses!
the lemur replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / September 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm
Better for what exactly?
Jason / September 23, 2013 at 04:47 pm
Overall, the idea of bringing back the bendy bus is nice, but not well thought by the TTC. Reducing the service (because the new bendy buses are longer and hence can accomodate more passengers) will not do anything to help allevate the current problems. If TTC seeks a temporary solution, it should put the same number of bendy buses (the routes they are planning to serve are running way over planned capacity). All Orion VII fleet 7400 to 7882, 8000 to 8099 and 8100 to 8396 (including the hybrids, 10xx, 11xx, 12xx-16xx) is one of the worst choices TTC has ever made. Not only the buses have physical design constraints (e.g. two doors instead of three for urban setting; back door opening out; not enough space at the back; elevated back platform and so on and so on) but TTC drivers also hate driving those -- because all Orion VII are very unreliable. I myself have had only for the last year more than 10 cases where an Orion VII or Hybrid has broked down during rush hour. Simply the Orion VII are not meant for cities like Toronto with such a high transit demand. The NovaBus LFS artic looks a lot better in terms of comfort and reliability. More than half of the TTC routes are long overdue for artic buses. However, until the City of Toronto steps in and helps build bus-only-lanes with grade separation on some Toronto streets, no matter which bus or streetcar we choose, it will not improve the situation. Proof-of-payment system must also be implemented on the buses (like in any other large world city - you name it) what is this: 50+ people boarding during rush hour from first door?!?! makes no sense whatsoever; they are talking about putting it on the new streetcars, but it needs to be on the entire TTC system, even on subway. Before hurrying to praise the TTC and negate everything what I've said, I wanted to assure you that I've worked in many other countries (developing and developed) on different transit projects and Toronto is by far one of the WORST in the world at the moment, in terms of planning, comfort, reliability and financing!!!
Tom West / October 3, 2013 at 03:08 pm
"The TTC estimates the current average 2:36 wait on the 36 Finch West will rise by over a minute to 3:41".
That's a 45% increase in wait time (so a 45% cut in frequency), matching the 45% increase in capacity.

This means these buses will provide the SAME capacity as before. The TTC should have introduced these in a cost-neutral fashion, so that capacity increased.
Commander / October 3, 2013 at 04:54 pm
So, many years after other cities around the world, the TTC is to introduce articulated buses. Hopefully they are getting them at discount, because most other cities have by now figured out that they are a waste of money.

Just look at the experience of London, England, as an example.Introduced in 2002, London had taken them all off of the road by 2011.

The reasons? Articulated buses take up more road space per vehicle, causing more congestion; increased vehicle size meant they used to block junctions and cause difficulties for other road user; increased incidents with cyclists and motorcyclists due to lack of visibility; increased fare evasion; claims that they were involved in 75% more collisions than other buses.

Another wonderful (and outdated) decision by our disjointed transit gurus!
NATMTL / October 25, 2013 at 07:52 pm
*** ARTICULATED BUS! "Bendy bus"? What, are we 12 years old? Also Montréal has been using that exact model of bus since around 2004.
Mr.bob / October 26, 2013 at 09:37 pm
We will screw up on this WTF#yolo
Ariel / November 22, 2013 at 11:38 am
Who designed the "back seating area" to these newer buses??
There's NO room to maneuver and NO leg space in those seats. What happened to the old 70's-90's buses with so much more walking room? Much more efficient I think.
The purpose of a city bus is to transport people. It's not a long-distance Greyhound bus to make everyone sit down and feel comfortable.
Think about your layouts a little more thoroughly TTC..
Other Cities: Montreal