Intercity Bus Services

Discussion in 'Transportation and Infrastructure' started by T.O.Fanatic, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. T.O.Fanatic

    T.O.Fanatic Active Member

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    I've been involved with transit advocacy for some time in Toronto, as well as being a daily transit rider (I do not, and most likely never will, own a vehicle). One thing that mystifies me is the lack of a map of intercity bus service in Ontario; produced either by the provincial government or a third party. Yes, Greyhound does publish a very poor map of their North America wide routes here: http://extranet.greyhound.com/Revsup/schedules/sa-50.pdf but it is hardly user-friendly and gives no idea of any connecting services, local transit etc.

    If we want to have people truly embrace a car free/car lite lifestyle, would it not be important to give people an idea of where it's possible to travel on public transport? With this in mind, I am trying to put together a beta version of just such a map and need some help from the Urban Toronto community.

    -Does anyone know if any such map actually exists? I have not found one in searching the internet but it may exist.

    -What program is the best to use? Google Maps has an editor function but limits the number of layers one can add to the map. Some competing programs don't have layers at all and this is essential to actually indicating all possible bus routes.

    -Finally, would anyone be interested in helping this project once it gets off the ground? I have another colleague working on this with me and we make up the core team but will need some other interested people to help research routes, make changes as necessary and just help keep the project going overall.

    Long term, we hope to have this project will provide the impetus for the province to create and popularize a map of bus services in the province, if not, our own map will ideally become a go-to point for anyone looking to travel car-free in Ontario!
     
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  2. steveintoronto

    steveintoronto Senior Member

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    Welcome! Great idea, you might want to post a 'heads-up' to this string in the map forums here.

    I know exactly what you mean about the lack of published routes. I'm a distance cyclist, and prepared to put my bike in a box if need be and dispose of it at my bus destination to then cycle a 100 kms or so to another destination at which I can take rail or bus back to Toronto. I searched for hours to even find Greyhound routes alone, to no success. Turns out they don't go many places anymore! But you'd figure *someone* still does those routes (like to Midland, for instance). I can find nothing on-line.

    Looking forward to seeing what others can post in this string.
     
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  3. APTA-2048

    APTA-2048 Active Member

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    Don't know if this helps: Ontario Northland has a pretty eye-pleasing map of their bus service here.

    Can't really find anything else for Greyhound, Coach Canada, and Can-ar.
     
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  4. steveintoronto

    steveintoronto Senior Member

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    Hey! Thank you! The 711 bus is perfect for Barrie and Orillia. It's too cold now to use it for distance cycling, but will be really helpful come the Spring. Going to look into whether they have bike racks on front or not, if not, if cardboard box needed for shipping bike underneath. (I carry complete set of tools to detach, re-attach pedals, seat, if necessary).

    I'll get back to this forum with details on carriage.
    http://www.ontarionorthland.ca/en/travel-information/baggage-information#bikes
     
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  5. Coruscanti Cognoscente

    Coruscanti Cognoscente Senior Member

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    I find it interesting/odd that Greyhound Canada considers cities like Kamloops, Banff, Brandon and Flin Flon as "major transfer points", but Toronto is not?
     
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  6. APTA-2048

    APTA-2048 Active Member

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    Just remembered an initiative by the Quebec Ministry of Transportation.

    Espacebus.ca allows Web-users to plan travel to destinations throughout Quebec. Whether their search concerns group travel, intercity transport, paratransit or rural transport, espacebus.ca provides access to a full range of information about schedules, depots, routes, terms of use, fares and Quebec tourism packages.


    Espacebus.ca is the outgrowth of a partnership between the Association des propriétaires d'autobus du Québec and the provincial transport and tourism ministries. "We are very proud of this portal, which we hope will help to increase the customer base for public transportation and contribute to government efforts to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions," noted Mr. Romain Girard, vice-president of APAQ.

    It was pretty much what the original poster was looking for. A website that included all forms of transportation, including private intercity buses. Unfortunately, it seems the site is no longer around.

    Included was this map of intercity carriers:

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. ssiguy2

    ssiguy2 Senior Member

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    The lack of bus connections is what also hurts VIA ridership.

    As a glaring example, there is no bus service between London & St.Thomas even though downtown to downtown is about 15km and London and St.Thomas actually border each other. The only way to get to downtown London {and the VIA rail station} is a $50 cab ride.

    What VIA SHOULD be is not a train service but rather a transportation serice. It should run not only trains but also an effective and well timed bus service to connect to the next major station. This would make VIA accessible to many more people in the Corridor and yet speed up service as the trains wouldn't then have to stop at every little dinky town on the way. Think of it this way, the hundreds of thousands of people who live south of the 401/403 in SWO have absolutely no access to VIA. Small wonder the 401 between London and Woodstock is nearing capacity.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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  8. Garuda

    Garuda New Member

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    This is a very good point considering that Gare de Palais is the bus depot for the city providing connections shown in the Quebec map.

    T.O.Fanatic, do you have access to ArcGIS? That would be your best bet to create lines based on a map of Ontario.
     
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  9. steveintoronto

    steveintoronto Senior Member

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    VIA used to run more connecting buses a generation or so ago, still does here:
    It might take the province to step-up to the plate on this...
     
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  10. reaperexpress

    reaperexpress Senior Member

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    I also noticed the lack of comprehensive map for intercity buses in Ontario so I started plotting them in Google Earth to see what the network actually looks like. I included the frequency of service (in buses per day) as an attribute because there's a big difference between 1 bus per day (Peterborough-Ottawa) and 19 buses per day (Toronto-Niagara). But this is not a very good way of displaying bus routes since they all go on top of each other where they share a route. Which is most of the time since they tend to stick to the 400-series highways.

    Red = Megabus / Coach Canada
    Blue = Greyhound
    Purple = Robert Q
    Yellow = Ontario Northland
    Green = GO Transit
    Black = intercity passenger railways
    Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 17.58.42.
    This map is still incomplete, especially in northern Ontario.

    If I have time this week I'll try my hand at making a schematic map of Ontario's intercity bus network. But it would be for illustrative purposes only - I don't intend to put in the detail and accuracy required for wayfinding, nor do I intend to keep it up to date.
     
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  11. Garuda

    Garuda New Member

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    It amazes me how some rural parts of Ontario are completely dry of a regional bus service. Really shows the reality of the rural-urban divide in this province.

    A few routes that come to my mind:

    North Bay - Ottawa = Ontario Northland
    Toronto - Kincardine - Port Elgin = Car Ar
    Toronto - Lindsay - Haliburton = Car Ar

    They are Charters but the service serves rural areas that have no public transit. The routes are milk runs but can be an asset for some users. The Car Ar service to Haliburton is really helpful for students going to the Haliburton School of Art + Design.

    More info:
    http://www.can-arcoach.com/schedule-services
     
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  12. rbt

    rbt Senior Member

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    While not full sized coaches, there are a number of smaller bus routes which terminate at Pearson Airport. I think they should count as it has fixed stop placement and runs on a fixed schedule. I've seen people using the Grey Bruce Air Bus to go from tiny town to tiny town.

    Reasonable frequencies, horrible route for actually going to Toronto from Kincardine.

    http://www.greybruceairbus.com/airport


    Another that I've not used:

    http://northernairport.com/index.php/cities
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
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  13. ShonTron

    ShonTron Moderator

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    There used to be a bus from Toronto to Owen Sound - three days a week it went via Brampton, Orangeville, and Markdale, the rest of the days it went via Guelph, Fergus, Mount Forest and Durham. That's gone. There's still a Greyhound bus that goes to Owen Sound, but it goes through Barrie, Collingwood, and Meaford. I'm not sure if the bus to Midland via Barrie still exists. PMCL used to have a few daily routes before Greyhound bought it and cut things back. (PMCL also had the contracts for Barrie and Midland transit as well; First Group -- Greyhound's parent -- still has these contracts.)
     
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  14. reaperexpress

    reaperexpress Senior Member

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    I tried to get a sense of Greyhound Canada's network from their website, but I was completely unable to do so. I could not find any system map, route maps, or route timetables. So basically they just assume that every city is connected and that potential riders assume that there is a Greyhound bus that goes where they want to go. And both of those assumptions are clearly false. For example, Cornwall, ON comes up as a destination from the dropdown menu, yet as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no Greyhound bus service that goes there.

    So I went ahead and fact-checked each one of the routes shown on the map you linked, using the trip planner on the website.

    Here's what I found: Routes in solid grey do exist; routes with "X" no longer exist.

    Greyhound Canada network
    GreyhoundCheck.
    Current state of discontinued routes, as far as I can tell:
    Hamilton - Niagara: No service
    Guelph - Owen Sound: No service
    Toronto - Owen Sound: No service
    Thunder Bay - Hearst: No service [EDIT: Partially replaced by Kasper Mini-Bus - thanks Garuda]

    Hearst - Cochrane: Operated by Ontario Northland
    Cochrane - Sudbury: Operated by Ontario Northland
    Cochrane - North Bay: Operated by Ontario Northland
    Barre [sic] - North Bay: Operated by Ontario Northland; a carrier abbreviated "HMT" also operates at least as far as Orillia, does anyone know what that stands for? [EDIT: Hammond Transportation - thanks IRT_BMT_IND]
    Peterborough - Pembroke: No service
    Kingston - Cornwall: Operated by Megabus
    Cornwall - Montreal: Operated by Megabus
    Ottawa - Cornwall: No service [EDIT: Partially replaced by Delaney Bus Lines - thanks APTA 2048]
    Ottawa - Grand Remous: Operated by Autobus Gatineau

    As we've established here, there is no central place where I can look up all the bus services together, so I'm relying my own knowledge of intercity operators. So some of the routes listed as "No Service" may well have some service that I haven't heard of.

    It is rather concerning that in a growing region such as ours, the amount of intercity bus service seems to be going down rather than up. Increasing population with decreasing transportation options is obviously a recipe for traffic congestion. Sure, some routes are getting taken over by GO and Ontario Northland, but that's only a handful of routes. The Hamilton-St.Catharines-Niagara service that existed until 2014 was discontinued with the claim of "unfair competition from GO Transit". And this claim was published in media even though even the slightest amount of fact-checking would reveal that GO doesn't operate any competing service. To get from Hamilton to St. Catharines or Niagara on GO Transit, you'd need to take a bus north to Aldershot, then a train north to Burlington, then a slow local bus back south into Niagara. Clearly that absurd option was not siphoning any ridership off of Coach Canada's direct bus.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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  15. reaperexpress

    reaperexpress Senior Member

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    I think I've got all the intercity bus services in Ontario, so if you know of any others, let me know:

    Blue = Greyhound
    Red = Megabus / Coach Canada
    Brown = Can-Ar
    Purple = Robert Q
    Yellow = Ontario Northland
    Green = GO Transit
    Black = intercity passenger railways
    Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 16.09.21.

    I also compiled the schedules for a couple routes where there are multiple companies:
    GLC = Greyhound Lines Canada
    ONTC = Ontario Northland Transportation Commission
    HMT = ??? [EDIT: Hammond Transportation - thanks IRT_BMT_IND]
    Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 16.19.10.
    Weirdly, Ontario Northland trips 34, 16 and 32 are not shown in ONTC's route timetable, but they do show up in both the Ontario Northland trip planner and the Greyhound Canada trip planner.

    Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 16.19.29.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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