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Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit - FAQ & Ask-a-Question

The Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit (DSBRT) project proposes approximately 36 kilometers of bus rapid transit infrastructure along Highway 2 and Ellesmere Road connecting Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering and Scarborough.

Once completed, the project will allow for seamless connections with local transit networks and will provide the residents of Durham Region and the City of Toronto with more flexibility and choice to get where they need to go, faster and more reliably.

It would provide:

  • Frequent 15-minute or better service, all day, seven days a week, with a bus every five minutes or less during rush hours, meaning freedom from looking at a schedule.
  • Dedicated bus lanes and signal priority measures.
  • 10 to 20 minute time savings for transit trips along the corridor, and;
  • Efficient transfers between routes, enabling a traveller to get anywhere in the GTHA easily and reliably.

We know that good transit planning involves feedback from the community – we’ve encouraged you to ask questions and share your feedback – and these are some of the top questions we’ve received.

What are you doing with the comments/feedback you have received so far from the community? Why consult us if you’re not going to listen?

The project team reads every comment and uses the feedback to refine the preliminary design. All comments received will be documented in the public record for this project in the Environmental Project Report.

A significant number of suggestions and feedback from the consultations have been incorporated and have shaped the design.  This includes changes in the Highland Creek area, in Pickering Village, downtown Oshawa and downtown Whitby. 

Some of the comments received will be carried forward to detail design, such as measures to protect trees or transplant them where possible. These are too detailed for the environmental assessment stage but are valuable to the future design.

What types of support will be made available to businesses impacted by this project? Will businesses be compensated for revenue loss due to construction?

We recognize that construction can be impactful to area residents and businesses. That is why we are committed to working with the local Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Areas to support businesses during construction.

While most elements of our business support program will be determined once a successful proponent comes on board and a contract is in place, I’m happy to give you a sense of the kinds supports we have provided in other projects.

  • Direct, one-to-one individual business supports directed to marketing and promotional ideas and help augment businesses where there is no Chamber/BIA representation.
  • Chamber/BIA support for marketing and event initiatives within the construction corridor.
  • Shop Local marketing, signage and advertising during select periods.
  • The Community Engagement team also works closely with businesses along the corridor and the contractor to ensure any questions or concerns are addressed promptly where possible. This may include things like procuring directional signage and ensuring the site stays clean.
  • Additionally, for Metrolinx’s in-delivery projects, we offer social enterprise components to our business support program. An example from the Eglinton Crosstown project is ‘Building Up’ which runs pre-apprenticeship trades training and currently runs a seasonal window washing campaign.

Prior to the start of construction, we will be creating Community Liaison Committees (CLCs) following the Environmental Assessment (EA). Once we’re through the EA process, the CLC will convene to review the design and provide more feedback. This is a great way for the business community to get involved with the project from the beginning.

What is a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP)? How is it different than the EA?

The Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) is a proponent-driven, self-assessment process, as prescribed in Ontario Regulation 231/08 made under the Environmental Assessment Act. Under the regulation, all Ontario public transit projects are exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act requirements and may proceed with assessment through a TPAP.

The TPAP is a focused impact assessment process that includes consultation, assessment of potential environmental impacts, and assessment of measures to mitigate negative impacts, which are all documented in an Environmental Project Report (EPR). The following regulated timelines applies to a TPAP: up to 120 days for consultation and EPR documentation, followed by a 30-day EPR public review period, followed by a 35-day review period by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. Following the Minister’s review period, the transit project may proceed once a Statement of Completion is issued by the proponent.

The TPAP is different from a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) process under the Environmental Assessment Act, as it is exclusive to transit projects and follows a streamlined process with regulated timelines. Projects assessed under the TPAP do not require any further approvals under the Environmental Assessment Act. Projects under the TPAP are assessed based on a preferred design rather than assessing alternative designs under a Class EA process. A significant portion of the environmental studies and consultation occurs during the pre-planning activities prior to the Notice of Commencement as a TPAP is to be completed within the regulated timelines.

What is the status of the TPAP for the DSBRT project?

In Winter 2022, there will be a 30-day Environmental Project Report (EPR) public review period, where feedback and comments from the public and other stakeholders will be sought, followed by a 35-day Minister’s review period.

All public consultation, engagement, and correspondence to the project team over the course of the study has been used to inform the design process and will be documented in the EPR. The upcoming ‘formal’ consultation process is a specific requirement of the TPAP under Ontario Regulation 231/08 and will consult on existing environmental conditions, potential impacts and mitigation measures related to the project.

Following the Minister’s review period, a statement of TPAP completion will be issued to conclude the process.

Increased noise and air pollution associated with additional buses

Per person-kilometre travelled, transit produces significantly less emissions than a private automobile, contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality. Rapid transit can become a catalyst for creating more walkable communities, leading to an improved quality of life for residents.

Both Durham Region Transit and Toronto Transit Commission are actively working towards new bus technology including battery electric and hybrids. The full DSBRT service will be operated by Durham Region Transit and TTC buses will also make use of the infrastructure and pick up and drop off passengers.

What are you doing to address increased noise and air pollution associated with additional buses?

Per person-kilometre travelled, transit produces significantly less emissions than a private automobile, contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality. The initial business case published in 2018 forecasted that over 160kt of greenhouse gases would be reduced.

Both Durham Region Transit and Toronto Transit Commission are actively working towards new bus technology including battery electric and hybrids.

The full DSBRT service will be operated by Durham Region Transit and TTC express buses will also make use of the infrastructure and pick up and drop off passengers.

The TPAP uses a worst-case scenario to assess impacts, by assuming diesel buses which are more impactful than the battery electric and hybrid buses that will traverse the corridor in the future.

In the noise assessment, both sources of noise from the proposed BRT project as well as from vehicular traffic are considered in evaluating the noise levels at the receivers.

Why can we not have BRT lanes without the center medians?

For safety reasons, a raised centre island is added with Bus Rapid Transit.

The raised median is also critical to managing left turning traffic and discouraging drivers from crossing over the BRT lanes. The lanes are most efficient when they are used exclusively for transit vehicles.  With the raised center median, the only area where cars will cross the BRT route is at signalized intersections where the conflicts between cars and buses can be managed.

What traffic calming measures will be put into place?

Metrolinx is committed to working with the Municipality throughout detail design to identify any future requirements for the project.

How are you ensuring safety of residents and motorists?

At Metrolinx safety is our top priority. The project will improve safety for all road users:

  • Improving pedestrian experience through upgraded, continuous sidewalks
  • Protecting transit users through raised and barrier-protected platforms
  • Improving safety of cyclists with grade separated cycling facilities
  • Preventing collisions for drivers by incorporating a raised median to prevent unsignalized left turns. Each signalized intersection will have a dedicated left-turn lane and fully protected left-turn “green arrow”. This means left turn and U-turn movements can be made while all other traffic is stopped, improving safety for the travelling public.

Recent experience in York Region has demonstrated the substantial safety improvements along their bus rapid transit routes, including:

  • improved travel for ambulance and fire vehicles, with access to traffic-free rapidway lanes
  • between 51% and 74% fewer collisions along rapidways, likely due to eliminating midblock left turns across traffic

(see page 21 of http://www.vivanext.com/PDFs/Corp/YRRTC_Annual_Report_2019.pdf.)

How are you thinking about Emergency vehicles?

The project team has consulted with Police, Fire and Paramedic Services in each Municipality. As with any construction project, Metrolinx will continue to work with emergency services through the detail design process, before construction begins, and during the construction period.

How is the project funded?

Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure (ICIP) Program, the Region of Durham has secured funding to construct portions of the corridor along Dundas Street and Kingston Road.

Metrolinx is working on the Preliminary Design Business Case (PDBC) to identify the overall costs and benefits of the project, which will be used to support a full funding decision for the remaining sections of the corridor. The Initial Business Case (IBC) is available on Metrolinx.com

How much will this project cost?

The IBC, completed in 2018, estimated the cost of the complete 36-km corridor at $585 million. This cost estimate is being updated and will be used, along with an update of the project benefits, as part of the Preliminary Design Business Case.

How much will it cost to ride the BRT?

The project proposes that TTC, DRT and GO Transit buses will use the corridor, similarly to how they do today.

DRT will stop and pick up passengers in Scarborough doubling the available service to residents. As part of the project customers will be able to travel on either a TTC or DRT bus along the corridor and pay one fare.

Where do the profits (fare revenues) go? Do they pay back the funding received from the various levels of Government?

TTC and Durham Region Transit (DRT) will be operating the service and collecting fare revenues.

GO Bus Fares are overseen by Metrolinx. Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario. Fare revenue is used to support our operations. Detailed financial reporting is available in our Annual Reports, available here: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/aboutus/publications/annual_reports.aspx

What is an Initial Business Case?

Metrolinx business cases help assess the benefits, costs, and impacts of a range of potential transportation investments. The initial business case compares investment options and selects a preferred option for further refinement and design. They are also typically used to secure funding for planning and preliminary design.

Bus Rapid Transit was identified as the preferred transit technology to link Durham and Scarborough through the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan, and the Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit Initial Business Case.

The Initial Business Case shows 10 to 20-minute time savings for transit trips along the corridor and efficient transfers between routes, enabling a traveller to get anywhere in the GTHA easily and reliably without looking at a schedule.

What is Bus Rapid Transit?

Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, is transit infrastructure and service with buses running in dedicated lanes separated from traffic, with signal priority measures in place and longer spacing between stops than conventional bus routes (typically 500 metres to 1 kilometre). These features combined reduce transit travel times and ensure reliability of the service.

Is the Durham Scarborough BRT considered a priority project?

The project is currently considered a priority in development project in the 2041 RTP. It is also acritical component of the 2041 Frequent Rapid Transit Network.

Why is a BRT needed in Durham-Scarborough?

With rapid growth in the past decade, and an expectation – especially post-COVID – that travel demand will continue to increase, and higher capacity transit will be needed to link communities and employment on both sides of the Toronto-Durham boundary. Bus Rapid Transit was identified as the preferred transit to link Durham and Scarborough through the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and the Durham Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit Initial Business Case (IBC).

Metrolinx worked with GTHA municipalities to review and assess the transportation needs of various corridors in the GTHA including Ellesmere Rd/Highway 2, Sheppard Avenue. Higher capacity transit is needed to link communities and employment across the Toronto and Durham boundary.

What are transit priority measures?

Transit priority measures will be implemented to maintain bus service reliability across the entire corridor. Where it is not feasible to implement dedicated lanes due to physical constraints “pinch-points” the design team will look at other priority options which could include:

  • Transit signal priority
  • Bus queue jump lanes
  • HOV/Business Access Transit Lanes
  • Limiting on street parking to off peak hours only

Specific locations for transit priority measures will be identified as part of design process.

How will BRT stop amenities be improved?

The Durham-Scarborough BRT is more than just a bus route. Improved bus stop amenities, such as offboard fare collection and next bus arrival signage, will help ensure a smooth, pleasant travel experience. Frequent service along dedicated lanes will improve the reliability of the bus, not only saving you time, but also attracting more transit riders. Additionally, as ridership and demand increase, BRT service can easily adapt to customer needs, which will ensure the quality of the service is maintained.

Improvements will include:

  • Next Bus arrival signage
  • Benches and accessible waiting areas
  • Off-board fare collection
  • Map and local area information to orient riders
  • Weather protection
  • Garbage cans
  • Station identification signage, to assist riders to know where they are as they travel

Why red asphalt?

Red asphalt is the standard for most Bus Rapid Transit systems, as it does not lose its visibility the way painted pavement markings tend to do over time. The asphalt uses both red aggregate and red dye that are added to the asphalt. As the pavement ages, it continues to look almost as red as the day it was installed. In some areas where traffic will be permitted in the BRT lane(s), red painted stripes may be used instead of red asphalt, which will be determined during detail design.

Coloured BRT lanes help drivers understand that they are for the BRT. This has been successfully used along Highway 7 for the viva system and creates an identifiable system that reminds the public and drivers of the priority given to transit along the corridor.

Who will make the final decision on the design/alignment of the project?

Metrolinx will continue to incorporate feedback from the public, stakeholders and elected officials to ensure that our final design is reflective of and balances the needs to the broader community and GTHA.

The alignment and design will ensure a high-level of transit service and priority, minimize traffic infiltration into neighbouring communities, prioritize the safety of pedestrian and motorists, encourage accessibility and walkability, support regional growth, reduce harmful CO2 emissions and most importantly, leave intact the charm and character of the Ellesmere community.

Why not Light Rail Transit?

LRT is much more expensive to implement and takes longer to construct than BRT, due to the additional infrastructure requirements, such as the rails, electric power supply, and additional costs associated with relocating utilities that run in the centre of the road underneath the tracks. Whereas with BRT, the project is similar to other road widening projects, and utility relocations are localized to facilitate road widening and BRT stops.

In addition to being a more cost-effective solution based on current and future ridership projections, BRT also provides more flexibility than a single route. Additional bus routes can use the same lanes for part of their trip – but serve other areas.  Other routes could run along part of the DSBRT corridor and then turn off the route to serve other communities or major destinations off the corridor. This operational flexibility will allow more passengers to have a one-seat ride, saving them time and transfers.

Which service providers will run along the route?

TTC, DRT and GO bus services can use the infrastructure.

The main DSBRT route will be operated by DRT, building on the success of the Pulse 900 route.

How will existing TTC service utilize the corridor and service existing stops?

TTC’s express buses would use the BRT infrastructure (with less stops) while non-express buses would continue to run curbside in order to serve the numerous local stops along the way.

Between Grangeway and east of Dormington avenue /UTSC, campus buses will use the centre lanes. Stops are closer together and are within TTC accessibility distance requirements.

TTC service will continue east of UTSC, to Port Union Road in the curb lane, for accessibility reasons.

DRT buses would use the centre lanes across all of Ellesmere Rd and pick-up/drop-off at all stops. 

Service plans will continue to evolve based on demand.

How often will the buses run? (i.e., peak, all day service etc.)

The Durham Scarborough BRT will have frequent 15-minute or better service, all day, seven days a week, with a bus every five minutes or less during rush hours. Dedicated lanes, where feasible, along with smart signals, will result in shorter travel times and more reliable service.

Towards the west end of the corridor, the combined TTC and DRT Pulse services will likely provide a combined service of less than five minutes during peak hours.

Existing TTC service west of Morningside Avenue is less than three minutes during peak hours.  

The frequency of buses will be adjusted over time based on ridership to meet loading standards.

Where service levels are already frequent, transit users can expect the same or similar service – with increased reliability.

How many people will it carry?

Ridership modelling completed for the IBC forecasted that the BRT services in the corridor will carry over 6,000 passengers in the peak hour, and more than 38,400 daily passengers. These numbers will be refined in through the Preliminary Design Business Case.

COVID effects on ridership?

Over the last year and a half, public health restrictions in response to COVID-19 have had a large impact on travel patterns.

While there is uncertainty surrounding the “new normal”, we know that the use of private cars for all trips is not sustainable or viable. Durham Region is the fastest growing region in the Greater Toronto area and will continue to grow, and we need to find solutions to move more people more efficiently.

Transit remains an essential service and is required for those who do not have a vehicle or who cannot or choose not to drive.

While the impact of COVID-19 to ridership has been significant, routes such as the 900 PULSE have been impacted less than services to downtown Toronto. Healthcare workers, essential retail workers and manufacturing workers continue to use transit as part of their travel to and from work. As retail and educational travel restarts, we expect to see ridership rebound quickly on DRT routes.

How is it different from current TTC service/How does it integrate into existing service?

This project builds on the existing DRT PULSE 900 service and extends this route to Scarborough Centre. This project focuses on providing dedicated lanes along Highway 2 and Ellesmere Road where feasible to provide fast and frequent service between Durham Region and Scarborough. The existing PULSE service will continue to operate on the corridor, and TTC and GO Bus services can also use the dedicated bus lanes.

Where will the buses connect to Scarborough Centre?

A new bus terminal is being planned at Scarborough Centre as part of the Scarborough Subway project, and the Durham-Scarborough corridor will connect into the terminal. The new terminal is currently proposed to be located on the east side of McCowan Road, which means the BRT can access the terminal using Grangeway Avenue. This will be considered as the Scarborough Subway project advances.

How will this connect to the proposed Eglinton East LRT at UTSC?

The planning for the Eglinton East LRT is still underway.

From Conlins Road to Morningside Avenue, the DSBRT has been planned to be compatible with the UTSC future plans and the proposed Eglinton East Light Rail Transit, including the proposed realignment of the Military Trail intersection.

As a result, the buses will serve curbside stops at UTSC, and then re-enter the centre-median bus lanes before serving the next BRT stop.

When do you expect construction to start and how long will it last for?

The project will be delivered in a phased approach. Exact timing will be refined over the next year when the TPAP concludes and we move into the detailed design stage.

In each segment, construction will be completed over one to three construction seasons. Work will begin in areas where there are fewer space and congestion constrains. The exact sequence of construction has not yet been determined. It will also be determined by funding availability, property acquisition, design development, other road works in the corridor and on adjacent streets and potentially utility upgrades such as sewer upgrades or hydro works.

Will there be expropriations required along the corridor?

Specific property requirements will be confirmed and communicated to property owners as the project proceeds to detailed design.

What are the next steps for the project?

  • The preliminary design plans for the DSBRT project are currently being finalized in consultation with communities on the corridor. The draft Environmental Project Report (EPR) is being prepared and the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), which includes a formal public consultation period, will commence.
  • The TPAP is scheduled to commence October 14, 2021.
  • As part of the TPAP, Metrolinx will be hosting a round of virtual public information centres in Fall 2021 to present the environmental impacts and proposed mitigation measures for the project and gather feedback that can be incorporated into the EPR.
  • Beyond the TPAP, the Preliminary Design Business Case (PDBC) will be finalized in early 2022.
  • Preliminary design plans can be found on Metrolinxengage.com.
  • Further implementation of the project would be subject to government prioritization, budgeting and approvals processes.

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Anonymous's avatar

Has a study done to compare subway expansions in regards to travel time, user convenience and traffic disruptions caused by the elimination of one lane for west bound traffic? Is Metrolinx aware that with the growth in Durham's population, almost daily accidents are happening on highway 401 in the Durham Region, causing higher volume on Hwy 2?

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 12:45

In light of new Provincial policies, why have in person venues not been added.?

Anonymous's avatar

For streets connecting to Kingston Rd that are not major intersections (e.g. no traffic lights), does this new system restrict our ability to turn both east and westbound due to centre median? Concern: If there is a centre curb or median, traffic is forced to turn in one direction which will cause more backlog. Limited exit = safety concern!

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 10:45

How will people who live, work or shop along the corridor from Notion to Rotherglen continue to have safe access to and from their driveways during construction and after?

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 12:42

How will people who live, work or shop along the corridor from Notion to Rotherglen continue to have safe access to and from their driveways during construction and after?

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 14:24

In light of new Provincial policies, why have in person venues not been added.?

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 14:24

In light of new Provincial policies, why have in person venues not been added.?

Anonymous's avatar
Oct 17, 2021 - 14:39

In light of new Provincial policies, why have in person venues not been added.?