Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thoughts on Züm

On September 20th, Brampton Transit will launch Züm, a limited stop bus service running every 15 minutes between Downtown Brampton and York University (and twice as frequently during the peak hours). In the process, service on Highway 7 in Vaughan and Queen Street in Brampton will be completely reorganized.

Previously, the 1 QUEEN bus ran from Chinguacousy Road to Airport Road, and the 77 HIGHWAY 7 ran from Finch Station to Bramalea City Centre as a joint YRT / Brampton Transit service. In addition, VIVA provided express service on the populated parts Highway 7 between Martin Grove Road and Dufferin Street with a diversion to York U. After Züm's introduction, the 77 will be cutback to the Brampton / Vaughan border at Highway 50 and become a YRT only route, and the 1 QUEEN will be extended eastward to meet it. VIVA will be unchanged, and Züm will be overlayed over those services.

We are currently in a transition period where the changes to the 1 and the 77 have been made but Züm has not launched. I'm assuming this is because of delays that occurred after the date for the change was set, but Brampton has provided a temporary express routes from Bramalea City Centre to York University.

In addition to those changes, many of the north-south arterial bus routes that connect with Zum will see service improvement. Many will now run every 10 minutes during the rush hour, and most will have a maximum frequency of every 30 minutes all day, every day. Brampton is a low density suburb, but these frequencies are very impressive considering that some of these routes ran hourly on weekdays just a few years ago.

One of the most common criticisms I've heard about Züm is that it doesn't connect to the TTC subway. It's a shortcoming and I'm not going to speculate as to why it exists, but I don't subscribe to some of the opinions I've seen that describe the project as a failure given the lack of a subway connection and the modifications to the 77. Here's why:
  • Over the 77, Züm provides a much higher quality of service for passengers heading east of Airport road towards York Region. Züm will run every 15 minutes during all hours that buses operate, and every 7.5 minutes during the peak hours. The 77 ran every 15 minutes during the peak hours and every 30 minutes during the off-peak. Late evening and weekend service was much less frequent, and that's where the greatest benefit will be seen. In addition, Züm will be much faster than the 77.
  • If one is heading further east on Highway 7 (perhaps to Finch Station), riders will be able to transfer onto VIVA or the 77 and Brampton Transit fares will be honoured. Since the 77 will now be much shorter it should be more reliable as the compounding effects of delays will be reduced. In addition, the extension of the 1 to Highway 50 will add an additional link to the new neighbourhoods in far south-eastern Brampton.
  • If one is heading to Downsview station, there will be a TTC bus nearly every minute on the 196 YORK UNIVERSITY ROCKET bus route. In the morning rush hour - when these buses are dropping students off at campus - these buses will be almost empty for commuters coming from Brampton. During the afternoon rush - when these buses are taking students back to the subway - these buses will have plenty of room for commuter heading home to Brampton. For reverse commuters who would be competing with students, VIVA Orange between Downsview station and Züm is a less crowded option. Yeah, transfers suck, but a transfer at a full-service terminal between frequently-running routes is very different from a transfer in a deserted industrial district.
There's no doubt in my mind that Züm's first line will be very successful. For York U students living in Brampton, it will provide a more accessible option for those heading to York University over the 407 GO bus service because there will be multiple boarding points within the city (the 407 bus only has two boarding points within the city limits), and might attract those who choose to drive because the cost of using the 407 is too high. For those heading to "the subway", the trip will be much faster than taking the 77 all the way to Finch - even with the transfer onto the 196. For those still wanting to go towards Thornhill and Finch, you'll get an express ride to at least Jane Street. Not every current rider will be happy with the new setup, but they key concern for any transportation planner is to offer the greatest benefit to the most number of people. I believe that Züm will do just that.

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At 9/13/2010 3:33 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a BRT line along Steeles Avenue starting around Steeles and Chinguacousy with an eastern terminus near Humber College? The 11 Steeles must be in the top 5 busiest routes in the GTA during rush hour.

At 9/13/2010 12:38 p.m. , Blogger Andrae Griffith said...

It comes online in fall 2012.


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