toronto ttc streetcar

Timed transfers could finally be coming to the TTC

All door boarding, timed transfers, "Ten-Minute-or-Better" bus and streetcar service, and a host of other potentially popular service improvements could be coming to the Toronto starting in 2015 if a new report wins the approval of the TTC board and city council.

The document, titled "Opportunities to Improve Transit Service in Toronto," pitches nine quick and (relatively) cheap improvements to the TTC before the arrival of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT and Scarborough subway extension. One of the ideas, allowing all door boarding on all streetcar routes, would reduce the length of stops, one of the biggest obstacles to fast streetcar service.

The issue around all door boarding was underscored last month when a report found long fare queues were delaying the King streetcar more than traffic and red lights. Currently, all riders must board streetcars through the front doors, except on the 501 Queen, 502 Downtowner, and 503 Kingston Rd. routes. The TTC says hiring 60 additional inspectors would help mitigate the potential for fare evasion.

Timed transfers--an idea that has been suggested several times in the past--would allow riders to make more than one trip within a two-hour window instead of forcing riders to pay for each new journey. In essence, a transfer would be come a two hour pass. Implementing this scheme would cost about $20 million, the TTC estimates, much of it in lost fares.

There are also ideas for prioritizing bus and streetcars on city streets, through queue jump lanes at traffic lights or getting signal priority over cars.

Five of the seven suggestions detail ways the TTC could reduce wait times and coverage. All buses and streetcars could run 24/7 no more than 10 minutes apart, more express routes could be added, and the night bus network could also be expanded, all of it, sadly, at a cost--about start at $19 million a year, increasing to $69 million by 2018. About $288 million in additional capital funding--the money the TTC uses to build infrastructure--would also be required between 2015 and 2019.

"Yes they cost money, but they are fairly fundamental improvements that we're suggesting for the people of Toronto--things that people have told us that they want," said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. "If we are to achieve our vision of a transit system that makes Toronto proud then we need the long term, sustainable, predictable funding that we talk about to do those things, and that's what this report really gets down to."

The report will be presented to the TTC board for approval next week. The funding, however, will need to be approved by city council.

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

Image: Chris Bandera/blogTO Flickr pool.

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