The other day as I rode in a taxi as a passenger along the streets of Toronto, I noticed that we were not moving. I asked the taxi driver why we were moving so slow. Apparently the taxi driver thought it prudent to follow a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus because the driver thought that the decal that was placed on the rear of the bus on the left side that said “Yield/Cédez [French., Yield]. A musical directive to the performer to yield, or slow down) meant that he had to follow the bus up the main street and could not pass it on the left.
I explained that the only reason the decal was on the rear of the bus, was due to legislation that was passed by Queen’s Park, that came into effect in 2004, which spoke to a requirement to yield to bus from the bus bay, which meant from a bus stop. The driver informed me that he believed that if he was to pass by the bus or not wait for it to re-enter the open roadway, that he would receive a ticket.
I noticed, as we drove along the two lane street, the bus driving in the curb lane, would come across vehicles parked on street and would immediately merge into the middle lane without signalling, without using his indicator signal.
Driver’s that I know, have spoken about experiences in which buses would pull out, without signalling from the side of the street. Not a bus bay (a bus stop), which the legislation speaks to, but from the side of the street or while turning the corner.
The bus driver must signal their intention to turn onto the road, when they are ready to turn. The bus driver must wait, after they have signalled to turn, to re-enter the lane of traffic when it is safe to do so, and not until then. This is what section 142.1 states and what was intended when the legislation was passed by Queen’s Park.
Toronto City Hall spoke of some the problems that TTC buses were having, re-entering the streets. See the discussions that took place during the December 4,5 & 6, 2001 City Council meeting:
Item No. 10.41 – Clause No. 1 of Report No. 13 of The Planning and Transportation Committee, headed
“Removal of Bus Bays on City Streets” (Pages 33-39 of the December 4,5 & 6, 2001 Toronto City Council Minutes).
The Toronto Transit Commission discussed the Yield to Bus Legislation on June 18, 2003:
T.T.C’s Yield to Bus Legislation
Meeting Date: June 18, 2003
Subject: Yield to Bus Legislation
It is recommended that the Commission:
1. Receive this report for information, noting that:
• The Provincial Government has amended the Highway Traffic Act to require motorists to yield the right-of-way to buses, in bus bays, which have indicated an intention to re-enter the adjacent traffic lane;
• The legislation, and associated regulations, are expected to be proclaimed and to come into force on January 2, 2004;
• A provincially-led advertising and public awareness campaign is currently being developed and will be launched later in 2003;
• TTC staff will install the necessary decals on the rear of all buses, as specified by the legislation, to allow them to take advantage of the priority afforded by this legislation; and,
2. Forward this report to the Toronto Police, Toronto Transportation, and the City of Toronto for information.
This report has no effect on the TTC’s capital budget. Funding for the purchase and installation of the decals will be included in the TTC’s 2004 operating budget.
Toronto City Council, at its meeting of December 4, 5, and 6, 2001, considered a City staff report pertaining to bus bays and adopted a number of recommendations including the following:
The TTC be requested to investigate the possibility of providing further signage at the rear of buses, using either slogans or a bright decal, to indicate that people should give priority to buses re-entering traffic;
The Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services, in consultation with the Chief General Manager of the TTC, be requested to provide an educational program to encourage motorists to give buses the right-of-way when exiting a bus bay; and
The Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services, in consultation with the Chief General Manager of the TTC, be requested to submit a report to the Works Committee on the concept of installing a stop indicator light on the back of TTC buses which would become operational when buses exit from bus bays and traffic would be required, by law, to give buses the right-of-way.
In a separate, although related, initiative, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) successfully lobbied the Ontario Government to enact legislation requiring every driver of a vehicle in the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay to yield the right-of-way to buses indicating an intention to re-enter the lane from the bus bay.
Bus bays permit buses to serve transit customers at a stop without causing delay to other traffic on the roadway. Under the current legislation, buses attempting to re-enter the adjacent traffic lane from a bus bay, must do so during a gap in approaching traffic, or rely on motorists in that lane to voluntarily yield the right-of-way. Decals are installed on the rear upper-left side of TTC buses, reminding motorists of this courtesy. However, there are still occasions when buses experience delays when attempting to exit a bus bay and re-enter the traffic stream.
New legislation, scheduled for proclamation on January 2, 2004, will make it mandatory for motorists to yield the right-of-way to buses signalling an intention to re-enter the traffic lane from a bus bay. A copy of this legislation is attached. A working group, comprised of staff from CUTA, provincial agencies, municipalities, and transit properties, including TTC, drafted regulations to support this new legislation.
The regulations define a bus bay to also include transit stops located in a curb lane between legally parked cars, in a right-turn lane on the near side of an intersection, and in an acceleration lane on the far side of an intersection. The legislation applies only to buses having the regulatory decal; participation is not mandatory.
Prior to January 2, 2004, when the legislation comes into force, a provincially-led public awareness campaign will be required, including revisions to driver training manuals and other literature. A working group led by provincial staff, and including TTC Marketing and Public Affairs staff, is currently developing a province-wide public awareness campaign to be launched later in 2003.
This is the Requirement to Yield to Bus from Bus Bay (bus stop) legislation (see below), which places responsibilities on both the driver of TTC buses, as well as drivers of other vehicles in Toronto:
Highway Traffic Act
R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER H.8
Requirement to yield to bus from bus bay
142.1 (1) Every driver of a vehicle in the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay shall yield the right of way to the driver of a bus who has indicated his or her intention, as prescribed, to re-enter that lane from the bus bay. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (12).
Bus not to signal until ready
(2) The driver of a bus shall not indicate his or her intention to re-enter the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay until the driver is ready to re-enter traffic. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (12).
When bus must wait
(3) No driver of a bus shall re-enter the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay and move into the path of a vehicle or street car if the vehicle or street car is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield the right of way. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (12).
(4) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations for the purposes of this section,
(a) defining bus and bus bay;
(b) prescribing the manner in which a bus driver shall indicate his or her intention to re-enter the lane that is adjacent to a bus bay;
(c) prescribing signs, signal devices and markings for bus bays;
(d) prescribing the standards, specifications and location of the signs, signal devices and markings;
(e) prescribing standards for operating and maintaining any signal devices prescribed under clause (c). 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (12).