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TTC slashes service on 62 routes - Toronto Star

November 24, 2011
David Rider and Brendan Kennedy
Staff Reporters
Toronto Star

Two long, snaking lines form on the platform at Finch Station waiting for bus 36 westbound. It’s 4:30 p.m., rush hour, and in the end about a dozen people are left behind. The bus is too full to pick anyone up at the first few stops.

“Another bus is right behind me,” the driver assures those waiting at the first stop west of Yonge.

Starting Jan. 8, that driver may not be able to make that promise, as Mayor Rob Ford’s budget cuts take a toll on 62 transit routes across the city.

The “major service cuts” to 56 bus and six streetcar routes, revealed in a memo leaked Thursday by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, touch every corner of the city. Wait times will increase from as little as 15 seconds to as much as 6 minutes, 20 seconds, with many in the 2 minute range.

Busy bus routes that will be squeezed include the 25 Don Mills, 29 Dufferin, 35 Jane and Airport Rocket. Streetcars affected include the 501 Queen and 504 King.

The TTC is also increasing wait times on the 36 Finch West bus, which was going to be replaced by a provincially funded light rail line under the Transit City plan that Ford killed after taking office last December. Ford has committed to “enhanced bus service” on Finch, prompting the TTC to consider building a dedicated bus lane.

Nancy Jules takes the 36 Finch West twice a week as part of her multi-bus commute to a cleaning job.

“Oh my goodness,” she said when she learned of the city’s plans. “If they take off any of these buses, that would be terrible.” The route needs more buses, not fewer, she says. She already often waits 30 minutes for a bus and has trouble getting to work on time. “I don’t know what I’ll do because it’s my only transportation,” Jules said.

“This is horrendous for the communities along Finch that almost had an LRT at their doorstep,” said Councillor Maria Augimeri, a TTC board member who cast the sole vote against the cuts. “Now they are going to be packed in like sardines, and it’s going to be rush hour all day.”

TTC chair Karen Stintz said in an interview that nobody likes reduced service, but riders have made it clear they don’t want poorly used routes axed entirely.

“So if we have to make adjustments, and no routes are to be cut, then we have to change the standards,” Stintz said. “It has been difficult to meet demand with a reduced subsidy, but this was seen as the best option.”

She couldn’t say why the TTC didn’t reveal affected routes until after environmental group leaked it. The TTC had planned to wait until next week.

Longer waits and more crowding are also coming to the 85 Sheppard East bus, to be replaced long-term, according to Ford’s transit plan, by a subway extension funded by the city and the private sector, as well as to the Eglinton 32 and 34 buses, to be replaced by the provincially funded crosstown LRT scheduled for completion in 2020.

“It’s the wrong direction for a transit system when you have 500 million customers a year — a record number — and growing,” Jamie Kirkpatrick, TEA’s public transit campaigner, said of the service cuts.

“It makes me wonder whether commissioners actually knew the severity of cuts that would be the result of budget decisions they made in September.”

The TTC board voted for the service cuts to help meet Ford’s directive that all city departments and agencies slash spending by 10 per cent, in the TTC’s case $70 million. Some departments, most notably the Toronto Police Service, are far from making that target.

The TTC will save $15 million per year by reversing service enhancements made as part of its ridership growth strategy, back to 2004 levels.

That means, during rush hour, buses will have to get 10 per cent more crowded before another bus will be put on the route, extending wait times. “Crowding standards” are also being increased for buses and streetcars in off-peak hours.

After TEA leaked the memo, the TTC rushed out the list and a news release confirming “reductions to 52 bus routes in the peak periods, and 36 reductions to bus and streetcar service in the off-peak periods.”

“Customers will experience longer wait times and more crowded vehicles in some cases. The TTC is also increasing service in January, with 21 bus and streetcar routes seeing an increase in service,” the release said.

The increases are tiny compared to the cuts, however. In a Nov. 16 internal memo, Mitch Stambler, a senior TTC service planning officer, wrote that the “major service cuts” will chop about 4,350 hours of service per month. (That includes time being lost simultaneously on different routes.)

Augimeri said the cuts amount to 204,724 fewer vehicle trips per year across the city, 16,018 along the already packed Finch corridor and 22,256 in Downsview.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said the utility had planned to reveal the affected routes next week. “We usually give riders about two weeks notice . . . and, with Christmas and the holidays coming up, we felt that would have been sufficient notice” before Jan. 8, he said.

No notice is enough for Hailee Gibson, 25, a University of Toronto student who has lived in crowded Bangkok, Sao Paolo and South Korea, and says Toronto has by far the worst public transit.

“I would never wait this long in Bangkok,” Gibson said, as she waited for the Finch West bus that takes her to campus five days a week. Gibson says she has to leave extra early in the morning to ensure she gets a ride.

“If you don’t leave at 7:45 a.m. or earlier, you won’t get picked up.”

Affected routes

Bus routes that can expect longer wait times include: 6 Bay, 7 Bathurst,9 Bellamy, 10 Van Horne,

11 Bayview, 16 McCowan, 17 Birchmount, 21a Brimley Kennedy to STC, 22 Coxwell, 24 Victoria Park, 25 Don Mills, 26 Dupont, 28 Davisville, and 29 Dufferin.

Also: 30 Lambton, 32 Eglinton West, 34 Eglinton East, 35 Jane, 36 Finch West, 37 Islington, 39 Finch East, 41 Keele, 42 Cummer, 44 Kipling South, 45 Kipling, 46 Martingrove, 47 Lansdowne, 52 Lawrence West, 53 Steeles East, 54 Lawrence East, 57 Midland, 58 Malton.

Plus: 60 Steeles West, 63 Ossington, 66 Prince Edward, 67 Pharmacy, 68 Warden, 69 Warden South, 81 Thorncliffe Park, 84 Sheppard West, 85 Sheppard East, 89 Weston, 96 Wilson, 102 Markham Road, 110 Islington South, 112 West Mall, 116 Morningside, 117 Alness, 123 Shorncliffe, 129 McCowan North,131 Nugget, 133 Neilson, 134 Progress, 139 Finch Don Mills, 190 Scarborough Cntr Rocket, 192 Airport Express, 199 Finch Rocket.

Streetcar routes affected include: 501 Queen, 504 King, 505 Dundas, 506 Carlton, 510 Spadina and 511 St Clair.

The longest additions to wait times are:

• 6 minutes, 20 seconds for Warden South during rush hour (every 11 minutes to every 17:20)

• 5 minutes on the 30 Lambton bus (every 15 minutes to 20) during morning rush hour and also for 47 Lansdowne north of St. Clair (every 15 minutes to 20).

• 4 minutes on routes 31, 42, 45, 102 and 139

TTC Service Cuts: http://www.scribd.com/doc/73685897/TTC-Service-Cuts

As originally published here: http://www.thestar.com/news/transportation/article/1092084--service-cuts-coming-to-62-ttc-routes?bn=1

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