Improving public transit: An east-end extension of an express inter-region bus and cycling route

This site is intended to help others learn more about the DSBRT*

For the most official & up-to-date information, follow the official project site: Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit | Metrolinx Engage

6 things YOU need to know about the DSBRT

This is *not* a new route! Did you know Durham Region Transit already provides service within Toronto with 5 bus stops via its DRT Pulse service?

The DSBRT project will extend service in Toronto, almost doubling its current ~5km coverage to approx. 10 km with 14 stops

**measurements calculated from road distances between Kingston Rd (over Rouge River) to UTSC (incl. bus loop) and extension to Ellesmere/McCowan Rd)
Over 24 km of safer & improved active transportation infrastructure
While the primary focus of the DSBRT is improving public transit in the area, Metrolinx has also proposed cycling infrastructure to run alongside the same rapid bus route
Source: Durham Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit - Transit Travel Time Reliability [] New Cycling Facilities were measured via Google Earth (8km Scarborough, 7km Pickering, 4.9 km Ajax, 5 km Whitby-Oshawa)
Will strengthen transit connections to the largest public institutions in the east end of Toronto
Major academic and health facilities can be found directly on the DSBRT route representing more than 15,000 staff that work in Scarborough, 35,000 students that study in Scarborough, and 500,000 patients that receive services via Scarborough Health Network. Not utilizing Ellesmere Road to the fullest would create an impact to travel times that essential workers and students rely on.
Source: Update on the City's Transit Expansion Projects - Fourth Quarter 2020 (
Improve commuting time up to 25%
Per Metrolinx, transitioning to dedicated transit lanes can improve transit travel times by 15 to 25%. That means the total travel time between Oshawa and Scarborough Centre can improve from 100 minutes to about 75 to 85 minutes.
Modelling also showed that dedicated transit lanes improve transit travel time reliability by 10%. This would mean every transit trip would save up to an additional 10 minutes
Source: Durham Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit - Transit Travel Time Reliability (
A Vision Zero sign indicating alternative methods to get to Morrish Public School by wither bike (2 minutes) or walking (5 minutes)
Promoting walking and cycling as a first choice for short trips and to access transit stations by connecting active transportation routes to establish a safe and convenient network

Located on Ellesmere Road - two public libraries, two post-secondary campuses, the Centennial East Rec Centre, and 2 major shopping plazas (Aldgate Centre, Abbey Lane) already have on-site cycling infrastructure (i.e. locks) for patrons - but none of the surrounding roads has a single bike lane. The DSBRT can address this with the construction of cycling lanes on Kingston Road & Ellesmere Road.
There are also ~22 schools in the vicinity, over half already provide a space to lock up bicycles. Parents and children need to feel comfortable and safe to ditch the car for what can be a quick walk or bike ride instead.
Building up current transit to support future transit
Eglinton East LRT is another proposed Scarborough transit corridor connecting people and places on Eglinton Avenue, Kingston Road, and Morningside. The terminal stop (UTSC) is the same place the DRT bus route currently ends and would continue to be serviced via the DSBRT.
Why invest and build a rapid bus route that wouldn't connect to a future LRT route?
Learn more about EELRT: Eglinton East Light Rail Transit – City of Toronto

Why is this needed?

The plan is to bring more frequent and reliable transit service to Durham Region and the City of Toronto, through the Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit project. The proposed Bus Rapid Transit project builds on the existing PULSE service along Highway 2 in Durham Region and Ellesmere Road in the City of Toronto.

Fact: TTC, DRT and GO Transit routes can use the dedicated lanes and share the same stops, making it easier to travel throughout the region.

With the rapid growth in the past decade and an expectation for this growth to continue into the future, demand for travel along the corridor will continue to increase and a higher capacity form of transit will be needed to link communities and employment on both sides of the Toronto-Durham boundary.

  1. Make getting around healthier for us and for the planet

  2. Make better use of the roads, railways and other infrastructure we already have

  3. Make it easier to find housing or jobs near transit by supporting alternative travel choices

    • includes supporting equity of access and mobility for marginalized people and communities

  4. Make meaningful changes in our effort towards climate change action

Federal Government: The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act has received Royal Assent. This means net-zero emissions by 2050 is officially the law in Canada. Getting Canada is one step closer to a healthier economy and environment starts by applying changes in our day-to-day lives, communities, and neighbourhoods.

Provincial Government: Mounting road congestion is a significant drain on the region’s economy, costing up to an estimated $11 billion per year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area alone. While targeted highway expansions and improvements are part of the solution, we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. Relieving congestion requires improving the capacity of corridors through managed lanes, shifting trips to other modes where possible, and reducing demand overall -- learn more about the province-wide goal on improving transit: Towards a Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan: discussion paper |

Municipal Government (of Toronto): City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, since then City has been updating the TransformTO climate action strategy to meet an accelerated greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of net zero by 2050 or sooner.

Transportation methods and activities account for 36 per cent of local greenhouse gas emissions; burning fossil fuels for our cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes creates greenhouse gases. 73 per cent of transportation emissions come from personal vehicles. To meet 2030 reduction targets and achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner, the focus is needed on encouraging active transportation and public transit use while facilitating rapid uptake of electric vehicles. Learn more here: TransformTO Net Zero Strategy and Climate Actions Backgrounder

Forecast concentration of people and jobs per hectare across the GGH (Greater Golden Horseshoe) in 2051. Note how the concentration centers east of Toronto are the same areas DSBRT aims to provide better transit service.

Why on Ellesmere Road?

"I heard Sheppard Ave and Highway 2A are better alternatives, why not use those?"

When you consider what needs to be connected, specifically the downtown Oshawa terminal - Pickering Town Centre - and University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) a growing transit hub to the east, it's quite clear Ellesmere Road necessitates the most direct connection, providing savings in 2 key areas in any transit project: transit travel time and operating costs.

Looking all the way back to 2008 - the Provincial Government provided $82.3 million to expand the region’s bus fleet and pay for improvements to bus service and infrastructure in order to launch DRT Pulse. Choosing which road to use is not a new question and has been analyzed, studied, and ultimately answered when the DRT Pulse 900 bus route was launched and continues to run on Ellesmere Rd to this day.

Specifically for the DSBRT project, the Initial Business Case (2018) also analyzed alternative routes along Kingston Road and Highway 2A to connect to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

Fact: 3 out of 5 DRT bus stops located in Toronto are located on Ellesmere Road/UTSC Campus

Diverting the DSBRT off of Ellesmere Rd would not only increase operational costs but forces current commuters to look for another alternative bus to:

  1. Travel further north to Sheppard Ave (requiring additional TTC bus to commute)

  2. Travel further south to Kingston Rd (requiring additional TTC bus to commute)

  3. Lose their stop entirely if the DSBRT is forced onto Highway 2A (with no planned stops), and wait even longer at UTSC

An update to an already running bus route shouldn't make people wait longer. Keeping the route on Ellesmere Road provides the best transit options for both Torontonians and Durham Region commuters.

Who would use the (Durham Region Transit) DRT Pulse in Toronto?

According to both Metrolinx and Toronto City staff - a lot of people.

Per Metrolinx via their 2018 Initial Business Case:

Overall, 41% of 3-hour a.m. peak trips (169,000 trips) generated in the study area stay within the study area. The rest of the trips are destined to south Scarborough (8%), north Scarborough (5%), Downtown Toronto (12%), the rest of Toronto (12%), the rest of Durham Region (12%), and elsewhere in the GGH (8%). It is important to recognize that the general sentiment that all travel from Durham Region is destined to Downtown Toronto is not actually the case – 41% of trips beginning in the study area during the 3-hour a.m. peak period also end within the study area.

This suggests the need for a high-quality BRT connection, between Durham Region and Scarborough, and to the broader Regional Frequent Transit Network, as defined in the 2041 RTP

Per City of Toronto (2020):

The corridor is expected to grow by approximately 215,000 residents and 66,000 jobs by 2041. Higher capacity transit is needed to strengthen connections between communities and employment in Durham Region and the City of Toronto.

Disclaimer: Between the time the statements above were made and present day, the world went through quite the change...

While it's clear ridership forecasts made prior to the pandemic reflect higher numbers than current seen - it is quite naive to think transit ridership in the most populated region of the country won't bounce back and exceed previous all-time highs in the future. Planning transit isn't just meant to address current needs, but also the needs of future commuters and changes to the region during that time.

How would this improve active transportation?

  1. New sidewalks and cycling facilities will be provided to fill in existing gaps.

  2. A combination of cycle tracks and multi-use paths are proposed.

Fact: The city actually recommended that a cycling lane should be constructed on Ellesmere (in fact, specifically between Conlins Rd and McCowan Rd - the same route as the DSBRT) back in 2016! To date, the city has only managed to build a portion of the recommended route in the Woburn community (Ward 24) connecting to the Meadoway.

Have you ever noticed (especially in the suburbs) unused green space between the sidewalk and road that would be better utilized with a lane to promote cycling, jogging, walking, and more?

Along Ellesmere Rd (between Kingston Rd and McCowan Rd) are areas of unused "green space" that can be better utilized by transit riders, cyclists, and community members with the inclusion of bus and cycle lanes (and in this area of Morningside, can still retain the same amount of traffic lanes). Scroll through other examples of these underutilized spaces all along Ellesmere Road below.

I don't live or work in Scarborough, why should I care?

Fact: Better transit in Scarborough is better transit for Toronto (literally, Scarborough is physically part of the city since 1998, making up 30% of Toronto's landmass and is where above 1/5th of residents live)

  • Transit is one of the most debated topics at city council, every day - hour - minute spent on these debates is also one less day-hour-minute spent on the many other items that may bring about changes and improvements in other areas across our great city

  • While it's important to hold our elected officials responsible to their election platform - not all the blame should be passed on to them. Constituents need better access to information to support healthy debates based on facts over opinions and limit airtime to NIMBYism.

  • As residents of the city, we all pay our fair share in taxes which in part is used to fund infrastructure projects ACROSS the city (not just our wards). Help Toronto move forward with transit improvements by sharing your support of proposed projects. Our city's Infrastructure Committee and Councillors of Ward 24 & 25 need to know the DSBRT needs to be higher on their priority list and not remain just a "proposal".

  1. An inter-region rapid transit project isn't just about the communities it runs through, but the cities it will connect. Your voice deserves to be heard. Share your thoughts, share this tweet!

2. Keep informed! Visit the project website ( for the official info.

3. Come on down! While work continues on the DSBRT extension. Within Toronto, the communities of Woburn, Morningside, and Highland Creek have many amenities to explore that you can explore. Imagine how great it can be if more people who don't readily have access to a car can enjoy these areas too.

Even before amalgamation, planners recognized opportunities to improve east-end transit. Above is a TTC proposal of the proposed high-speed streetcar link for Scarborough in 1975, image Toronto Star via Transit Toronto

As the debate on the Scarborough LRT vs Subway debate has come to a close, remember that commuters in the meantime will now be forced to endure the loss of the RT with 7 years of bus commutes.

Between the time TTC first announced a plan to extend transit in the east end (via Transit City in 2007) to the time shovels are officially in the dirt for the Scarborough Subway extension - 14 years have elapsed.

To put that in perspective, you could've raised a child during the same time that would be starting Grade 9 right about now.

Scarborough & the rest of Toronto cannot afford to lose out on yet another transit project to uplift our commuters in the much-needed improvements on our east-west connections. The rest of Toronto doesn't deserve to wait through decades to endless transit debate. Transit is about moving people better, not just cars.

Active transportation and public transit can co-exist when provided with the right amount of political will & support. It's time to support the DSBRT.

*the DSBRT is a proposed project awaiting funding, project route and options are subject to change per Metrolinx updates.

Credit: Bus icon made by Freepik from Flaticon.

This site was created by concerned Highland Creek resident @_nithursan, with support from TTCRiders and TorontoEastCyclists.