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21 Comments

cityscape

Articulating the TTC’s New Bendy Bus

We took a test ride on one of the TTC's new articulated buses.

How does riding the bendy portion of one of the TTC’s new articulated buses feel? Stand in the middle of the rotating section and you’ll notice little difference from elsewhere in the vehicle. Move closer to the edges and the experience resembles a slow-but-smooth merry-go-round.

One tip: if you’re tall, stand elsewhere in the bus unless you like ducking your head. The ceiling in the joint area is a little lower than normal.

Media and TTC officials experienced the new articulated buses during a test run between the TTC’s Hillcrest complex and Bathurst Station this morning. The feel of the ride was a little different than what passengers are accustomed to. For one thing, the predominantly grey interior makes the inside of the bus seem a little brighter than normal. Footrests improve the comfort level on raised seats. We suspect the plentiful aisle space will allow the vehicles to fit far more than the official peak capacity of 77 passengers (48 sitting, 29 standing). We also noticed many video cameras lining the roof.

When the articulated buses start rolling officially, the routes they serve will see less-frequent service to offset the increased rider capacity in each vehicle. When asked about this, TTC CEO Andy Byford pointed out the positives. He claimed that the extra set of exit doors will shorten stop times by speeding up passenger unloading, and that the higher capacity will provide passengers with better odds of getting on a vehicle. How this will play out in reality, with rush-hour passengers who could care less about the cost efficiencies that come with fewer drivers and vehicles, remains to be seen. Byford also indicated that, unlike the new streetcars, the first new buses won’t be equipped with Presto technology.


Related:

Bigger Buses May Mean Less Service


Also on hand was Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who marvelled at the gizmos drivers require to operate the vehicle. He praised TTC drivers for being “technically competent and socially alert.”

The vehicle used in today’s run is the first of 153 new Nova “Artic” buses that will go into service between December 2013 and January 2015, marking a return after a decade’s absence—though the articulated buses the TTC was using a decade ago were made by a different manufacturer. The buses will be a Christmas present for riders along the 7 Bathurst route, while long-suffering passengers of the 29 Dufferin bus may see the January arrival of the Artics as a New Year’s gift. Other routes slated to see the new buses before the end of 2014 are 6 Bay, 36 Finch West, 53 Steeles Express, 63 Ossington, and 85 Sheppard East. As for other routes, the buses will only be used where the demand exists and where garages can service the longer vehicles.

Comments

  • Suicide Boi

    Desperately needed and welcome, though I prefer the double-deckers that GO Transit and OC Transpo use. The double-deckers function much better in terms of passenger flow, especially if they are insisting on front-door-only boarding.

    • Lee Zamparo

      No Presto means no back door boarding, sadly.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        We have two POP streetcar routes with rear door loading, I don’t know why that can’t be extended to buses at transfer points.

        • OgtheDim

          Streetcar riders are genteel and all pay the fare or have POP.

          Us Scofflaws in the inner burbs are not to be trusted.

          • Lee Zamparo

            The POP streetcar rear door loading is ad-hoc madness, but yeah I suppose it could be tried with the articulated buses. But as @OgTheDim suggests, the ruffians & ne’er-do-wells in the inner burbs are not to be trusted. They might start building a subway in the back or something.

    • TomLuTon

      Double-decker buses would have serious clearance issues on several routes in Toronto

  • Sean_Marshall

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not looking forward to seeing these things in service on the 7 Bathurst (why put them on 7 Bathurst anyway?). The route is grossly mismanaged with large gaps in service and lots of short turns. It’s too often a 20-25 minute wait at Bathurst Station for a bus that’s supposed to depart every 8-10 minutes Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the lineups at the station will oftem turn onto themselves. Fewer, more loaded buses could make it even worse, not better, turning that 20-25 minute wait until a 30-35 minute wait between buses.
    Bathurst isn’t nearly the busiest or most frequent route, so I’d like to know why it gets stuck with the artics first.

    • Testu

      Same goes for the 29 Dufferin route.

      The buses are nice, but the problem with these routes isn’t the buses. Until they actually enforce their “headway” times at the beginning of the route there’s not going to be any less bunching, except by virtue of there being fewer buses.

      Service reductions on already overcrowded routes? That’s some real commitment to customer service Mr. Byford.

      • Sean_Marshall

        At least Dufferin has a lot more buses at all times; I think artics might actually make sense. I’ve never had to wait more than 10-15 minutes to board the 29, but I had to wait 25-35 minutes to board a 7.

        The 7 is so bad that there are times where more buses short-turn at St. Clair West Station than actually serve Bathurst Station, the subway station they’re supposed to terminate at. I feel that if the TTC can’t be bothered to run the 7 Bathurst properly, then split the route into two and stop pretending to run a service between Steeles and Bloor.

      • Rena Ashton

        I think it makes sense on the 29. Every time I take it, when a bus does show up, there’s like 3 at a time. So having one giant bus instead of 2-3 small ones that come together makes sense.

        • Testu

          The problem is, it’s not even twice the size of the current buses. So when only one of these shows up instead of the two or three that do now it’ll be packed immediately.

          I doubt it’ll even be possible to board north of Dundas during rush hour.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      I thought one of the claims about the new, longer streetcars is that they will reduce bunching/irregular spacing, and thus the need for short turns, i.e. making it easier to manage the routes.

      Is there some reason you believe fewer-but-longer buses will have the opposite of the effect claimed for fewer-but-longer streetcars?

      • Testu

        Neither of them will have the claimed effect, because the problem isn’t the number of vehicles, it’s the fact that the operators do not follow the headway guidelines at all.

        I regularly see anywhere from two to five 504 streetcars leave the Roncessvalles carhouse immediately after one another. Likewise with buses at the Dufferin loop/Exhibition station. They’re already bunched up at the very beginning of their route.

        All this is likely to do is ensure that the few vehicles that do arrive at any given stop are packed to capacity already, because of the crowds of people at each stop waiting for less frequent vehicles.

      • Sean_Marshall

        The streetcars will offer all-door boarding without direct driver interaction. This should improve running times, at least at major intersections. This key advantage will not be available on the artic buses. The new streetcar rollout plan (http://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2013/June_24/Reports/New_Streetcar_Implem.pdf) will reduce the number of vehicles during rush hours, but on many routes there will be the same or nearly the same headways off-peak, but with much more capacity.

  • wklis

    But will Rob Ford use the articulated bus or any bus on a regular basis? Not very likely.

    I’ll bet there will still be able-bodied people who will continue to enter and exit through the front doors. Even with PRESTO.

  • OgtheDim

    Is the 6 Bay that busy? (Seriously, that’s one of the few routes I’ve never felt the need to take)

    • UnknownTransit

      Probably for shuttling students to George Brown college.

    • wklis

      It used to be busier when trolley buses ran on it. Even more so when the streetcars ran on Bay Street. Hopefully, the articulated buses will draw some people to use it as an alternative to the nearby subway, whenever there are delays to the subway.

  • Rob Ford

    SHHUBBWAYYZ!

    *half-eaten food flies out of mouth*

  • UnknownTransit

    about 50

  • tongjun

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt

    vvv