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Intercity Bus Services

Over the holidays, I completed my quest to ride every company operating between Toronto and Ottawa with a ride on Flixbus. I've now ridden Megabus, Rider Express, Book A Ride, Flixbus, Red Arrow, Via Rail, Air Canada and Porter.

What struck me about Flixbus (and also Rider Express) was how bloody fast they drive. The Rider Express driver in particular was an absolute maniac, but Flixbus actually achieved the highest speeds.

Here's a quick trip report with some clips of the speedometer:

Are trucks still limited to 105 km/h? I see plenty of trucks exceeding that these days on the 400-series highways.
 
Are trucks still limited to 105 km/h? I see plenty of trucks exceeding that these days on the 400-series highways.
Section 68.1 of the HTA requires all commercial vehicles to have an active speed limiter per "the regulations".

Current Highway Traffic Act
68.1 (1) No person shall drive, or permit the operation of, a commercial motor vehicle on a highway unless the vehicle is equipped with a speed-limiting system that is activated and functioning in accordance with the regulations. 2008, c. 8, s. 1.

The regulations are HTA Reg 587 sections 12 through 18. Section 13 lists exemptions from the requirement:

HTA Reg 587:
13. (1) A commercial motor vehicle is exempt from subsections 68.1 (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Act if it is,
(a) a bus;
(b) a mobile crane;
(c) a motor home;
(d) a vehicle manufactured before 1995;
(e) a vehicle with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating under 11,794 kilograms; or
(f) an ambulance, a cardiac arrest emergency vehicle, or a fire apparatus. O. Reg. 396/08, s. 1.

(2) For the purposes of clauses (1) (d) and (e), the date that a commercial motor vehicle was manufactured and its manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating shall be deemed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to be,
(a) the date and weight on the commercial motor vehicle’s compliance label; or
(b) where a commercial motor vehicle does not have a compliance label affixed or the label is illegible, a document from the vehicle’s manufacturer that is carried by the driver and that references the vehicle’s vehicle identification number and indicates its year of manufacture and gross vehicle weight rating. O. Reg. 396/08, s. 1.

(3) A commercial motor vehicle is exempt from subsection 68.1 (1) of the Act if,
(a) it is not equipped with an electronic control module capable of being programmed to limit vehicle speed;
(b) it is engaged in providing relief in an emergency, being a situation or impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions to life, property or the environment, whether caused by forces of nature, an accident, an intentional act or otherwise; or
(c) it is operated by or on behalf of a municipality, road authority, public utility or of the government of Ontario or of Canada while responding to a situation or impending situation that constitutes an imminent danger, though not one of major proportions, to life, property or the environment, whether caused by forces of nature, an accident, an intentional act or otherwise. O. Reg. 396/08, s. 1.

(4) A driver of a commercial motor vehicle is exempt from subsection 68.1 (1) of the Act if the vehicle is leased for 30 days or less by an individual for the transportation of the goods kept for the individual’s personal use. O. Reg. 396/08, s. 1.

But just because a law exists does not necessarily mean that everyone obeys it. The law also states that no vehicle may exceed the posted speed limit, for example. I have definitely seen trucks exceed 105 km/h. I would assume that trucks from outside ON/QC are more likely to not have correctly set limiters, since the driver might enter the province and not bother to stop and set it.
 
When I took Megabus from Ottawa to Toronto a couple weeks ago, I was surprised at how busy the Kingston Coach Canada bus terminal was. While we were stopping over there, so were two other Megabuses. The terminal was surprisingly well equipped, with proper washrooms, a convenience store and a ticket counter. Which doesn't sound like much, but it's far more than you get from any of the other operators, whose Kingston stops are in parking lots or on sidewalks.

So I dug through the Megabus website to descipher what their bus timetable looks like on the routes through Kingston.

Here is the timetable with all of the stopping patterns, many of which only run a few days per week.
Capture1.PNG


Here is the timetable on Mondays, which is the highest-frequency day of the week, featuring hourly service to Montreal and 4 buses per day to Ottawa.

Capture2.PNG


Here is the timetable for Tuesday to Thursday, which only has 2 buses per day to Ottawa.
Capture3.PNG

It appears that people could use the Kingston Terminal to transfer from the Pearson-Kingston local service to a Toronto-Ottawa or Toronto-Montréal service, for example to get from Belleville to Montréal. But if you try to actually book such a ticket on the Megabus website, it tells you it isn't possible, because the trip planner can't handle transfers.
Capture4.PNG

Yes I did try the Fare Finder, and it only gave me the destinations on the Pearson-Kingston local bus.
 
Kingston does need to sort out their transferring and transit options for intercity travel. The current state of affairs with the train station, bus station, and other operator stops all at different locations makes it difficult to coordinate good transit for those travelling to and from Kingston. There is a lot of travel due to the universities, government offices, and Kingston's location between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, but the transfer when I'm Kingston to try and get to your final destination without a car is pretty poor.

Most bus service to the stations is either 30 minute or 60 minute service, with some trips requiring long walks to get to the correct bus stop (try and travel downtown from the Via Station in bad weather).

I would suggest one of 2 options:
1. Build a bus terminal as part of the VIA station renovation. There is plenty of land and good road infrastructure around the station to make this happen, and I believe the plan is to build some layover tracks and facilities at the station to allow for improved intercity commuter service. Kingston transit would then need to run 15-30 minute service along John Counter and divert the non-express princess Street buses to serve the station. 10-15 minute service along Princess should be justifiable considering the existing development and ridership on that corridor.

2. Build a new combined VIA and Bus Station at division street. This would provide better highway access for buses and faster transit access to downtown. I think this would be more expensive, but would be a good option if expansion of the existing VIA station faces challenges due to the marshland area it is located in.

None of this is would be cheap, but funding could be split between the city, provincial government, and federal government along with some funding from new development around the station area (more applicable to the division site). Overall, I think it can serve as a good model for integrating various transit services in mid-size communities in Ontario to allow for greater mobility. Communities like Brantford, St. Catherine's, Belleville, and Cornwall would also benefit from similar schemes.
 

FlixBus will be expanding service in Ontario starting Dec 21:
- NEW overnight service between Toronto & Detroit via Hamilton, 5 days/week
- NEW round trip from Ottawa to Pearson Airport via Union, 5 days/week
- NEW round trip from Ottawa to Toronto via Port Hope & Cobourg, daily
What happened to the GO transit pilot project to bring service to Cobourg?

Integrating PRESTO would likely increase ridership.

 
Section 68.1 of the HTA requires all commercial vehicles to have an active speed limiter per "the regulations".

Current Highway Traffic Act


The regulations are HTA Reg 587 sections 12 through 18. Section 13 lists exemptions from the requirement:

HTA Reg 587:


But just because a law exists does not necessarily mean that everyone obeys it. The law also states that no vehicle may exceed the posted speed limit, for example. I have definitely seen trucks exceed 105 km/h. I would assume that trucks from outside ON/QC are more likely to not have correctly set limiters, since the driver might enter the province and not bother to stop and set it.
I'm not that close to it anymore but one complicating problem is the MTO doesn't have suitable technology to access and prove the speed limiting device. The one they were using was found to be both inaccurate and incompatible with some engine management systems so they dropped it and I haven't heard that a replacement has been found. Obviously, police and MTO enforcement can still lay a charge of speeding over the posted limit. There is also a 'deeming provision' in 68.1(9) that says a truck is deemed not to have an operating limiter if it is founding speeding (duh). This could be actioned against the driver or owner.
 
What happened to the GO transit pilot project to bring service to Cobourg?

Integrating PRESTO would likely increase ridership.


It’s still there. The Commuter Connect program is partially supported by Metrolinx. However, the Campbellford route is gone.

 
It’s still there. The Commuter Connect program is partially supported by Metrolinx. However, the Campbellford route is gone.

4 trips a day is not bad but it would be nice to see weekend trips for the family so they don't have to drive to Oshawa.
 
From TOK Coachlines (formerly Can-ar Coach):

November 6th, 2023

Dear Valued Customers,

It is with regret that we wish to inform you of an important decision concerning our services.

After 34 dedicated years of serving the Haliburton, Kawartha, and Durham regions, we regret to announce that we will be Discontinuing the Haliburton to Toronto line-run effective January 31st, 2024.

For those who have already purchased tickets, you have the option to use them before the aforementioned date, or if preferable, you can request a full refund by February 29th, 2024.

  • Tickets purchased online, please request via email with your ticket number, contact name and phone number to info@tokcoachlines.com
  • Paper tickets purchased from ticket agents, please send original to TOK Coachlines, 221 Caldari Road, Concord, ON L4K 3Z9
  • Valid tickets purchased by November 6th, 2023 will be honoured for a full refund
Despite our unwavering commitment to servicing customers in this region, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain exceptional standards in service given the rising operating costs combined with the ongoing province-wide driver shortage, this difficult decision became inevitable.

Serving the wonderful communities of Haliburton, Kawartha, and Durham has truly been an honour. We deeply appreciate the trust and loyalty you have shown us throughout the years. Your continued patronage has been the backbone of our operations, and for that, we are immensely grateful.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey.

Warm regards,

TOK Coachlines
According to a friend who spoke with a TOK driver today, another company has picked up these routes and plans to run them with smaller buses.
 
Updated my intercity map after taking another bus trip to London.

I thought someone took over the route that Can-ar served along highway 35. It would be nice if it met with a service from Huntsville to Ottawa Through Algonquin park. Currently there is no bus service to Algonquin park.

Also instead of 5 companies doing London to Toronto, why doesn't anyone pickup highway 26 from Barrie to Owen sound?
 
What? Four transfers on three different agencies isn’t good enough?
Well from Toronto, one transfer will get you to Collingwood but after that you are on your own. Plus there is no service on weekends.

I'm surprised that the municipalities of Collingwood, Medford, Thornbury and OwenSound collectively fund the Linx Bus to their municipalities? Seems like a no brainer.

Collingwood 22k
Thornbury 19k
Medford 10k
Owen Sound 26k

77k people should be enough to support hourly bus service 7 Days a week. Not including tourists. I'm not gonna suggest a bus going to Tobermory because there is almost nothing between Tobermory and OwenSound.

I'm sure a lot of these people commute to Barrie to go to the mall or doctors appointments.
 

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