A new schedule for Toronto’s buses has raised questions about safety, according to a new study.
A new study has found that the city’s buses are “relatively unreliable,” according to the city.
The study was commissioned by the Toronto Transit Commission and the Toronto Urban Mobility Alliance.
In an interview, lead researcher Elizabeth Kowalchuk said the schedule changes, along with other factors such as fare increases and other measures taken to increase capacity, may not be the answer to reducing safety.
“There are two main issues that are affecting safety on our buses: increased capacity and fare increases,” Kowalek said.
“Our buses are in good shape, and they’re really good at moving people and goods.
But we need to have some improvements in our fleet and the way that we transport people around.”
The study found that Toronto buses were operating at about 25 per cent of capacity at peak times.
That’s well below the 70 per cent required to provide adequate service during the day and nights.
A few routes have experienced short-term increases in capacity, with many riders still waiting for their turn.
The TTC has also reduced service on some routes during peak hours, such as when the buses are operating at full capacity.
The changes could also affect riders’ safety.
During the peak hours on weekdays, the TTC says that between 60 and 90 per cent more passengers are waiting to board, with only 30 per cent waiting to cross the street.
On the weekends, the agency says that ridership on the busiest routes is up by between 40 and 50 per cent.
During that same time period, the average waiting time for a TTC bus to cross a street at a bus stop is about 40 minutes.
Kowalk said the TTC has made improvements in the bus fleet over the past five years, but “there’s a lot more that needs to happen.”
“We’ve invested in bus capacity, but we haven’t done anything to upgrade the fleet,” she said.
She added that the fleet is “reliable” but that the company needs to take “more care with the equipment.”
The new schedule could affect many riders, including seniors and those who use mobility scooters, because they are not able to board buses at a safe time.
Kooley said she has noticed some “mixed feelings” among her customers about the new schedule.
“We’re trying to be flexible, and if they need us, we’re willing to do that,” she told CBC Toronto.
The new buses are also not in good condition, with “broken seats, broken rails, broken switches, broken windows” and “broken lighting.”
“I think that’s one of the biggest issues that we’ve had,” Kooalk said.
The system is also operating on a “very, very tight budget,” Koop said.
A study done in April 2015, which was commissioned to evaluate the citywide transit system, showed that the buses had “some of the most vulnerable and expensive components in the fleet.”
Kowalingchuk said that despite the study’s findings, the city did not immediately follow up on its findings, which could have made the new schedules more difficult to implement.
“This is a very, very challenging time for the TTC,” Kopplin said.
Koppin said the new scheduling is “a real disappointment” for the public, but added that it is a “tough decision” for transit officials to make.
“But we have to make it happen,” Koplin said, adding that the agency will also be looking at how to address the existing safety concerns.
The city’s bus schedule changes were announced in April 2016 and were supposed to take effect in October 2018.
However, the changes were delayed due to a federal government-mandated review of bus scheduling.
It will be in place until 2020, when the TTC will take over the bus operations.
Koop and Koppink said the city is also looking at other ways to increase the capacity of its fleet, such the installation of a “bus park,” a green space at the end of a bus route that allows riders to sit, use public transit or go to the grocery store, or even to their homes.
“It’s not just about the bus schedule,” Kollin said.
But Koppaluk said the changes to the schedules are part of a broader strategy by the city to improve its fleet and ensure that it meets all of its obligations under the city charter.
“The goal of this charter is to increase transit capacity, increase bus reliability, reduce traffic congestion, and increase accessibility,” she added.
“So these are all good goals, but they’re not always achievable.”