toronto bus lanes

Toronto might be getting dedicated bus lanes much sooner than expected

Dedicated bus lanes might be coming to some Toronto streets much sooner than expected to help ensure the health and safety of riders.

A motion to accelerate the placement of bus lanes was proposed earlier this month by members of city council.

"This motion asks for the Board's support to accelerate roll-out of the five bus priority transit corridors identified in our approved 5-Year Service Plan," it reads.

"Advancing these priority corridors on a fast-track basis will help to improve reliability, safety and customer confidence in our transit service," it continues.

"As our communities continue reopening through the COVID-19 pandemic, the bus network will play a critical role in connecting communities historically underserved by transit, removing barriers to accessing employment and restarting the economy."

The 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook plan was first proposed in December and looks to add five designated bus lanes along several major transit corridors over the next five years. 

The proposed routes would see bus lanes installed along portions of Dufferin Street, Jane Street, Eglinton Avenue East, Steeles Avenue West and Finch Avenue East.

The initial aim was to accommodate the city's growing ridership, but it's now taken on new significance as people who regularly use these routes are put at risk due to already overcrowded buses that often do not allow for physical distancing.

"Bus service is the most adaptable mode for evolving public health guidelines on physical distancing, and the most flexible for real-time service adjustments to meet changing demand," reads the motion.

"The bus priority transit corridors in the 5-Year Service Plan focus on parts of the city where our service has experienced more acute overcrowding during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for suburban transit-reliant communities," it continues.

"These routes could provide relief to many of the communities experiencing some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the city, especially compared to wealthier downtown geographies, and achieve important gains for transit equity and access in geographies across all of Toronto."

The motion notes that "many of the communities in the bus priority corridors are home to essential frontline workers with no option to work from home," increasing their risk of virus exposure on the overcrowded buses.

The plan to accelerate the bus lanes also anticipates that more people will be returning to work over the next few months and ridership is expected to increase.

Additionally, with people being encouraged to work from home until September if possible, the window to build more city-led infrastructure projects without traffic congestion is limited.

The TTC is set to debate the motion later this week.

Lead photo by

Lisa Power

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