As Toronto continues to grow, the number of people who rely on transit is increasing. Subway and light rail lines require considerable time to build. Traffic congestion significantly impacts the speed and reliability of buses and streetcars, and new strategies are needed to move more people quickly and comfortably.
Toronto’s Official Plan forecasts 3.65 million people and 1.98 million jobs in Toronto by 2051. As Toronto grows, the number of people who rely on transit increases, while roadway space dedicated to transportation remains the same. Transit priority solutions will help move more people quickly and comfortably.
TransformTO is Toronto’s ambitious climate action strategy, which includes a set of long-term, low-carbon goals and strategies to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health, grow our economy and improve social equity. The TTC is already doing its part by expanding its electric bus fleet, and aims to be about 40 to 50 per cent electric by 2030.
Transforming our roadways through investments in transit priority solutions will help Toronto meet TransformTO goals. When buses and streetcars are given priority, they will operate more efficiently and reliably. As well, improved service reliability can provide people with a practical travel option other than driving personal motor vehicles.
As described by the City’s COVID-19: Impacts & Opportunities, enhancing bus and streetcar roadways is vital for Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs), where improving transit can help improve access to employment, healthcare and community services for the city’s most equity-deserving communities.
While TTC bus ridership decreased to 21 per cent at the lowest point (April 2020), bus routes that serve NIAs remained active and ridership did not decline as much as in other parts of the city. Bus customers are more likely to work in jobs that cannot be done from home and tend to rely more on transit for their mobility needs.
Providing enhanced public transit, such as priority bus lanes, advances Action 7.2.1, of the City Council-approved Poverty Reduction Strategy 2019-2022 Term Action Plan, to explore bus transit lanes on heavily-used bus corridors in the inner suburbs to improve speed and reliability.
Buses and streetcars make up the bulk of the TTC network and 70 per cent of TTC journeys require the use of a bus or streetcar (2016). Data collected between January 2019 to February 2020 showed that 22 per cent of buses and 34 per cent of streetcars experienced delays.
Bus and streetcar transit improvements can make our transit system more reliable, reducing delays and making transit travel times shorter. Improving the reliability of bus and streetcar transit will make it a practical option for travel in the city.