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Up close and personal with the TTC's new bendy bus

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 3, 2013

toronto articulated busIf you like riding a bus, the TTC is pretty sure you will love its new high-capacity articulated vehicles. The $143.7 million fleet of 153 new diesel people movers are the "Cadillac" of surface transit, according to the man whose job it is to train new drivers.

Starting in December, the flexible buses will begin to appear on the 7 Bathurst route, shortly followed by the 29 Dufferin in January. The 36 Finch West, 63 Ossington, 6 Bay, 85 Sheppard, and 53 Steeles routes will follow in 2014.

toronto articulated bus"I like this bus, I drive them all ... out of all the buses this is my favourite. It's smooth, you get a lot better motion off the stops ... it's a nice ride," says Mike Franklin, the instructor charged with training drivers.

For passengers, the buses come with new padded seats, all-door boarding with Presto, and some extra lighting, but really this is just a stretched out version of current city buses designed to mitigate bunching on busy routes, a problem TTC CEO Andy Byford says he's "determined" to fix.

"The wait time will be marginally longer but the big upside is that if we run much bigger buses that are quicker to alight from the actual time they'll spend at the stop will be cut by some margin, and we'll be able to operate them much more reliably," he says.

toronto articulated busThe TTC flew too close to the sun with its previous fleet of Icarus articulated buses. The vehicles, introduced in 1987, quickly rusted and were removed from service in 2003. Since then, overcrowding on busy surface routes has worsened.

The artics can hold 77 passengers, 48 seated and 29 standing, which is a 45% increase compared to the current 40-foot buses, the TTC says.

"This year we have record ridership, 526 million riders, so we're a victim of our success and it's causing us now to re-invest in new buses, new subways, new streetcars, light rail, and very exciting new equipment riders can benefit from," said TTC Chair Karen Stintz.

toronto articulated busDeputy Mayor Norm Kelly said Rob Ford approves of the new, longer vehicles, perhaps because they aren't streetcars.

"As you know, the mayor's basic approach to transit is: 'subways, subways, subways.' but we all know surface transit carries as many if not more passengers than the subway does at present," he said.

"On the issue of surface transit, the mayor is obviously very supportive of the bus system ... it is a very impressive vehicle."


Fleet size: 153
Total budget: $143.7 million
Vehicle cost: $939,215
Length: 60 feet
Capacity: 77
Seated: 48
Standing: 29


Dec 2013: 7 Bathurst
Jan 2014: 29 Dufferin
Spring 2014: 36 Finch West
Summer 2014: 63 Ossington
Summer 2014: 6 Bay
Fall 2014: 85 Sheppard East
Fall 2014: 53 Steeles Express


toronto articulated bus

toronto articulated bus

toronto articulated bus

toronto articulated bus

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Chris Bateman/blogTO



Deric / October 3, 2013 at 02:24 pm
About time - these buses really do make a difference, as people in the surrounding GTA regions already know. I travel from Toronto to Mississauga every day, and although the schedules in Mississauga are far and few between, these buses ensure you aren't left on the curb because the bus is full
Thomas / October 3, 2013 at 03:19 pm
Let's remember that the TTC does not intend to use these buses to provide more service. This is a cost-saving exercise for them, as they don't have to employ as many bus drivers. They actually intend to provide slightly worse service (less frequent buses).

Not that bigger buses aren't better, but let's not be fooled here. Things aren't going to get better unless they run bigger buses at the same (or better) frequency as they do today.
David / October 3, 2013 at 03:21 pm
Any photos of the presto readers?
Kat / October 3, 2013 at 03:48 pm
Looks exactly like the buses that OCTranspo operates in Ottawa...those seats are legitimately comfortable, and having 3 doors rather than 2 really does speed up how long the bus has to wait at each stop for people to get on/off. Also, many, many more than 29 people can and will stand on these beasts. I'm good with this news.
iSkyscraper / October 3, 2013 at 03:51 pm
I ride these often in New York. They are ok, but they are just buses after all. Hardly any more comfortable than any other bus. And like the TTC, the MTA got them to cut labor and vehicle costs by running fewer vehicles.

The real issue is bus lanes, off-vehicle payment and other tricks to speed travel and loading. New York uses many of their artics on what they call Select+ bus routes where all payment is at small kiosks in the shelters, not on the bus, and most of the route has a dedicated lane. I understand these buses will have Presto readers, but will Presto payment be onboard or off? And what about bus lanes?

Also, the artics in Oakland, among other places, have four doors. Given the passenger loads in Toronto this would have been wise. Having only three doors is a missed opportunity.

No matter how nice a bus, it's not a rail vehicle, which means that real estate development will not follow. So these are fine for what they are but by no means should any suburban LRT line ever be dropped in favour of a bus route.
Sean / October 3, 2013 at 03:58 pm
@Thomas: You are so correct!!! We shouldn't be fooled.
FT / October 3, 2013 at 04:30 pm
when someone farts in one of those new fancy seats, there is simply not going to be enough foam to "hold in the oder" ...if you know what I mean ;-)
W. K. Lis / October 3, 2013 at 04:32 pm
I'll bet there will still be able-bodied people who will continue to enter (even with PRESTO) and exit through the front door.
flib / October 3, 2013 at 04:32 pm
"Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said Rob Ford approves of the new, longer vehicles, perhaps because they aren't streetcars."

LOL. Sounds about right.
W. K. Lis / October 3, 2013 at 04:36 pm
"Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said Rob Ford approves of the new, longer vehicles, perhaps because they aren't streetcars."

Will Rob Ford actually use any bus, not just the articulated buses, on a regular basis? Not likely.
Alex / October 3, 2013 at 04:37 pm
YUS!!!!! My route is getting new buses. My route is getting new buses. This is fun :)
Rob Ford / October 3, 2013 at 05:04 pm

*half-eaten food flies out of mouth*
McRib / October 3, 2013 at 05:17 pm
hey look, its a bus
Brent / October 3, 2013 at 05:36 pm
Rob Ford approves of the new buses because they can hold 50% more football players.
The Lonely Troll / October 3, 2013 at 06:48 pm
Yay! Buses!
Luis Eduardo De Jesus / October 3, 2013 at 07:34 pm
Impressive DIESEL people movers! Is diesel the best fuel for this vehicle and the environment?
Me replying to a comment from Luis Eduardo De Jesus / October 3, 2013 at 09:26 pm
tropaka / October 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm
I remember falling/stumbling with the old articulated buses. So, they are cutting down on buses and throwing these in and saying they will be more prompt? Heck, add these in ADDITION to the other buses....
Dan replying to a comment from Thomas / October 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm
"They actually intend to provide slightly worse service (less frequent buses)."

Yeah, that's what they "intend". You win the straw man prize of the week. Stay off the internet, ok?
Walter / October 3, 2013 at 10:48 pm
Put these on Sheppard East and Finch West and you can delay those 2 LRT's since this will increase the capacity by 50%. Then cancel the B-D subway extension and replace it with the SRT extended to Malvern on one end and connected to an elevated Eglinton line on the other - this uses up the Federal contribution of $660M. Then use the proposed City tax increase that was to go to the B-D Subway extension (maybe $700M), add it the the $2.2B LRT money, and you can build the first phase of the DRL from Osgoode to Pape.
nardl blarn / October 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm
we want subways but they give us expensive buses instead. Typical!
nardl blarn / October 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm
And yes, they are totally going to decrease the frequency of the buses because these fit more people. So our journeys will be at least as uncomfortable as they are now. But as anyone who has lived in London can tell you- these bendy buses are a NIGHTMARE so all bets on the most uncomfortable most inconvenient service possible at a not insignificant cost.
nardl blarn replying to a comment from Luis Eduardo De Jesus / October 4, 2013 at 12:05 am
Agreed, the least they could do would be to use the standard natural gas/electric hybrid used in a lot of other cities.
jake / October 4, 2013 at 12:16 am
They should replace all of the streetcars downtown with these.
Me replying to a comment from tropaka / October 4, 2013 at 12:41 am
Were you sober?
skazzberry / October 4, 2013 at 01:15 am
It looks just like the same buses they use in Ottawa and Gatineau right now and those buses always jack knife whenever there is any sort of snowfall in the city. Winter tires are apparently not available for them.
lxpatterson / October 4, 2013 at 06:47 am
I don't know why Ford's name figures in this conversation at all. Credit should be given to Stintz and Byford who are making a stab at trying to solve "today's" transit problems realistically.
Steve replying to a comment from jake / October 4, 2013 at 09:32 am
No, they should not. Articulated buses have no place downtown on narrow streets. They take up way too much space.

Boris Johnson recently got "bendy buses" out of Central London, and it was one of the best things he did.
the lemur replying to a comment from nardl blarn / October 4, 2013 at 09:47 am
The reason they were unpopular in London is because they were hard to manoeuvre in heavy traffic on narrow/winding streets (not a problem with, say, the Dufferin route) and they had a fare evasion problem. It also cost more to replace them with conventional buses because they had to run more of them.
Steve replying to a comment from the lemur / October 4, 2013 at 09:51 am
It was proven they, despite being only 5% of the buses there were involved in 20% of the accidents. But I agree that's because of the narrow streets and high pedestrian traffic, which downtown Toronto has as well. It's a grid, yes, but still narrow. I was objecting to "replacing all streetcars with these buses". On Dufferin they'll be fine.
nardl blarn replying to a comment from jake / October 4, 2013 at 09:54 am
no they should not replace the streetcars with these. Streetcars for all their problems are still a better solution than these buses. The problem with downtown transit isn't a streetcar vs bus thing- more of a congestion and capacity problem. Obviously subways can carry far more passengers and isn't affected by street level congestion so would be an ideal solution to replace the king and queen streetcar routes. But until that joyous day the best actions would be to enforce the streetcar only lane in king street (just making a few TTC staff provincial officers and setting them down at random spots along that route to make out tickets all day long will end up dissuading most drivers to use the streetcar only lane) and also lobbying to ban on street parking on these routes in the downtown core.
karma / October 4, 2013 at 12:42 pm
slinkys are horrible in the ice and snow
nardl blarn replying to a comment from the lemur / October 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm
they will still encounter problems with simple manoeuvres like pulling into a bus stop, and the significant added length will cause problems at junctions etc. Even on a street like dufferin. Anyone who has relied on bendy buses for years in London will also tell you that they are horrible horrible vehicles- incredibly uncomfortable. Even the current dufferin bus is better than these, no matter how nice and shiny they look at the moment. The supposed fare evasion problem you refer to only came about because the bendy buses allowed multi door entry using oyster cards, much like the POP entrance on queen streetcars. The difference is that London has a history with this sort of thing, and has always had ticket inspectors which acts as a check or deterrent. The main reason why they ended up replacing the bendy buses wasn't some big economic matter- it's that they are practically horrible vehicles.
Banana / October 7, 2013 at 04:32 pm
So let's see:

Downsview station
Sheppard line
University line extension
New streetcars first on Bathurst
New buses first on Bathurst

Anyone notice something?
NativeTorontonianAl replying to a comment from Banana / October 26, 2013 at 02:39 pm
Yes, more stupidity.
Mr.bob / December 14, 2013 at 03:13 pm
Moscow still has Ikaruses
Kristian / January 8, 2014 at 10:56 pm
They offer their clients with accurate services in adequate tax return 1040ez time frames.
It is also essential to understand that, we must provide details about our conviction
in the last three years. We used to operate it here,
and any taxes applied.
Other Cities: Montreal