This week, the TTC endorsed a project to build an exclusive busway system from Downsview Station to York University. The only thing that stands between us and seeing this project built in a couple years is an environmental assessment.
The project seems to be amazing value for the money. It will cost $25-$30-million, and will cut travel times down to a reliable 13 minutes. It can take up to half an hour now.
To put that price in perspective, it is about 10% the cost of building the Front Street Extension. It is less than 2% the cost of extending the subway to York U.
Right now, the Express Bus 196 that runs from Downsview to the university is carrying 7300 passengers per day, with a peak load of 24 buses per hour. Besides getting these passengers to campus more quickly, the infrastructure would also reduce the TTC's operating costs by more than $1-million per year because they'd need fewer buses to deliver the same number of people. (If a bus can make twice as many trips per hour, you don't need as many.)
But the project's goals go beyond this. It is expected that the busway would be used by Go buses and by York Region Transit. So, this would help many more people than just the students.
Furthermore, when bus service in the region is less crappy, there will undoubtedly be more riders. They'll be attracted by the faster, and more certain, times.
Now, this busway plan is not meant to replace an eventual subway expansion. On the contrary, it is hoped that the busway would build transit usage in the area in advance of the real thing.
All in all, it sounds like a smart move.