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Frequently Asked Questions about Toronto's Buses

Additional text by Jelo Gutierrez Cantos, with some information provided by Fleet Manager

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What was the TTC's first bus route?

The first bus route operated by the TTC was HUMBERSIDE, operating from Dundas and Humberside and into the residential neighbourhood south of the Toronto Junction. The route was, in many ways, a precursor to today's Dupont (formerly Annette) bus route, as Annette joined together several small bus routes operating between Bloor Street and St. Clair Avenue, of which a descendant of the Humberside route was one. The Humberside bus route was served by four double-decker buses and was enough of a success for the TTC to duplicate the experiment in Rosedale. As the bus technologies improved, and the costs of installing streetcar systems increased, the TTC soon realized that the buses were more cost-effective vehicles to serve the rapidly-growing, lower-density suburbs developing around the city. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can read more about the history of Toronto's bus routes here.

How many buses are there in the TTC's fleet?

According to the TTC's 2012 Operating Statistics, the TTC maintains a fleet of 1,857 40 foot diesel or hybrid buses, all of which are accessible. The TTC is currently accepting delivery of 60 foot-long articulated buses, and the fleet is constantly growing and changing. The TTC's buses operated 124,996,000 kilometres through 2012, an increase of 1,383,000 kilometres from 2011.

Why did streetcars outnumber buses when the TTC began, only to have the situation reversed today?

The first buses, like the first automobiles, were less than comfortable vehicles. With solid rubber tires bouncing upon uneven roads, buses weren't as popular with passengers as streetcars, nor were they as fast. As a result, the first bus routes were feeder lines ferrying passengers to streetcar terminals. Over time, however, bus and automobile technologies improved, as did the conditions of our roads. Also, the overall ridership of our transit agencies started to drop as passengers were pulled away by the private automobile. Whereas streetcars can carry far more than buses when they travel on private right-of-way, demand is not high enough to justify such infrastructure on most of the TTC's bus routes. As the costs of installing streetcar systems increased, the TTC soon realized that the buses were more cost-effective vehicles to serve the rapidly-growing, lower-density suburbs developing around the city. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why are there places on the TTC where Natural Gas buses are not allowed?

When this was an issue, back when the TTC had compressed natural gas buses in their fleet, we gave an answer that was completely wrong. We would like to thank Keith Littlewood for setting us straight. In his words: "Actually, Compressed Natural Gas is lighter than air. A Natural Gas leak tends to vent upwards and would become trapped on the ceiling of an enclosed structure. Propane, on the other hand, is a heavier than air gas that would collect at ground level. I recall accidents a few years ago with Toronto taxicabs where a propane leak resulted in an excessive concentration of fuel collecting inside the vehcile that ignited when the ignition switch was turned on (not when the engine started!).

The provincial Fuel Safety Branch has recognised this fact and for many years has prohibited the indoor storage of propane fueled vehicles, while permitting indoor storage of natural gas vehicles. The Hamilton Street Railway (where I was employed during the test program and systemwide introduction of natural gas buses) and London Transit operate natural gas buses that are stored indoors.

The TTC operated CNG Orion Vs on 52 LAWRENCE operate into the underground terminal at Lawrence Station. (I saw one on the route last night)."

It should also be noted that the natural gas fuel tank on the top of these buses makes these buses taller than most buses on the system. There are some areas where clearance is an obvious issue.

Is there a rationale for assigning particular bus models to a particular garage?

Bus models are assigned to garages based on a number of factors:

  • Service Requirements - accessible buses assigned to accessible routes, large capacity buses (Artics) assigned to heavy routes.
  • Garage Constraints - CNG buses require Fuelling Facility, Battery electric buses require charging stations, Artic buses require longer hoists, Outdoor parking requires on-board UWE hookup.
  • Maintenance - The fewer different models at a garage the less training required.
  • Parts and Supplies - The fewer different models at a garage the fewer different parts required in the stockrooms.

What are UWE (pronounced oo - vay) buses?

UWE buses are equipped with heat exchangers and auxiliary heating elements that are plugged into a wayside boiler facility that circulates hot glycol, enabling the bus to maintain a reasonable temperature (engine and driver's compartment) when parked outside on cold winter nights. It is similar in results to a block heater on your personal automobile. Employing an UWE outdoor parking facility significantly reduces the cost of building new garage facilities by eliminating the need to construct and maintain a large parking barn. All buses assigned to the new Eglinton garage on Comstock Rd. (opened Mar 2002) and the reconstructed Birchmount garage (opened fall 2001) were UWE equipped. However, those systems were dismantled in 2006 and new garages such as Mount Dennis (2008) and McNicoll (will open in 2020) are not equipped with the UWE system.

What are the Montreal buses?

A significant corrosion problem, leading to structural failure in one series of TTC buses caused this entire series to be retired early. To meet service requirements, 64 used Montreal GM buses were procured as replacements with the intention of rebuilding them in the TTC Bus Rebuild Program. Service requirements changed and only 20 Montreal buses were eventually rebuilt (2600-2619) and were assigned to Arrow Road garage before finally retiring them in 2006.

What is the rationale for bus numbering?

The TTC currently uses a 4-digit vehicle numbering system. Two blocks of numbers are reserved for the city bus fleet, 1000-2999 and 7000-9499. Starting with the 3100 series, the first two digits are unique identifiers of a particular series of bus and are also used in identifying procedures for that particular series. Where there are more than 100 buses in a series the entire 100 numbers in the next sequential series are dedicated to that series (eg. 3100-3369, next series 3400-3654, 3700-3759, vice versa.)

Why are the buses being rebuilt at their 18-year life being renumbered from the 8000 series to the 2000 series?

With the new numbering rationale, it appeared possible that the system would get to the 8000 series before these buses were retired. In addition, not all pre-1982 buses were rebuilt, so it was simpler just to renumber them into a contiguous number sequence. The purpose of renumbering was to clear out the 8000-series for future buses which would later become the future Orion VII and Nova LFS diesel orders.

What is the status of the articulated bus fleet?

The Orion Ikarus articulated fleet was retired and prepared for sale in August 2000. However, due to increased ridership, selected buses from this fleet are planned to be retained and made serviceable in 2001 for up to two years pending the next procurement and ultimately retired in June 2003. The next fleet of articulated buses were delivered in 2013-2014 in a form of 153 Nova LFS articulated low-floor buses and still in service today. Another 68 buses is scheduled for procurement in 2021.

When will the TTC buy their next order of buses?

The next procurement of buses is planned for 2021. At that time the plan is to procure 68 low-floor 60-foot articulated buses (61 hybrid, 7 electric) and 92 low-floor 40-foot buses (32 hybrid, 60 electric).

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