Finch Avenue West Bus Service

The future of bus service on Finch Avenue West

A TTC report on how to improve bus service on Finch Avenue West will be brought to the table at the next Commission meeting on May 11th. Of the numerous options discussed, the most likely to see implementation is the addition of articulated 18 metre buses along the busy route. These are six metres longer than the standard TTC bus and would reduce crowding by a claimed 50%. Their usage would also mean that that City and Commission would be able to avoid the more expensive infrastructure improvements below.

Of these, the extension of the York University BRT along the Finch Hydro corridor is probably the most often discussed, but a paper attached to the report argues that because "the hydro route does not penetrate major transit markets on Finch Avenue itself, and would generally entail considerably longer walking distances," it's not necessarily the most desirable option. Also interesting is the idea of installing "exclusive bus lanes in the centre of Finch Avenue for bus rapid transit (BRT), basically in the alignment of the Finch LRT proposed in Transit City," which might leave the door open for non-bus transit should a future mayor be more enthusiastic about LRT.

TTC Bus Route Ridership

The whole report is actually rather fascinating, but it's important to remember that these are TTC proposals. Although Rob Ford has said that the City will work to improve service on Finch, some of the suggestions below will almost certainly be struck down on account of costs. Pasted below are some of the highlights. For a look at the full report, check out the PDF here.

Infrastructure improvement alternatives include:

  • Construction of a 'busway' or two-lane roadway within the hydro corridor north of Finch Avenue, which would be restricted to bus use only, (as now exists between Dufferin and Keele for the York University express bus service)
  • Allocation of two centre lanes within Finch Avenue West for exclusive bus use as BRT (bus rapid transit), essentially an alternative to the use of these lanes for the LRT service proposed in the Transit City plan.
  • Dedication of the curb lanes on Finch Avenue West for bus use only, and the establishment of "queue by-pass lanes, through road widenings at strategic signalized intersections, which would allow buses to move to the head of the line, rather than being delayed while vehicles ahead clear intersections.

Operational improvement alternatives include:

  • Substituting longer, 18-metre, articulated buses for the TTC's standard 12-metre buses now operated on Finch Avenue, a substitution that would increase both bus carrying capacity and capital costs by about 50 percent
  • Relocation of selected existing bus stops to the away (far) side of intersections in order to allow more effective application of the TTC's established and successful transit signal priority.
  • Introduction of off-board fare payment (POP) and the installation of ticket vending machines at identified stops in order to eliminate delays at stops associated with the fare collection process itself and to permit faster boarding and alighting by allowing customers to use all doors;
  • Selective expansion in the use of transit priority signals along the route, and a possible reduction in the number of bus stops (i.e. increases in average stop spacing) so as to reduce travel times for most passengers (with a resulting disadvantage to those passengers who would be required to walk longer distances to reach their bus stops).

Photo by in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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