In Toronto, there are several ways to find out when the next bus is coming to your stop, from viewing the official schedule, to downloading an app, to using websites. I find the easiest to be a texting service that my friend taught me. It is owned and operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and does not require any smart phones, laptops or downloads. The way it works is fairly simple. The below FAQ should help you figure out how and why it works.
What is a TTC stop number?
The TTC has a unique number for every stop in its network. This means all trains, stations, bus stops etc. are uniquely numbered. This is done for every stop, not just every intersection. So, if there is a bus stop at all four corners of an intersection, all four bus stops will have different stop numbers. Typically these stop numbers are four digits (for example, the CNIB office on Bayview Avenue in Toronto is stop number 1716).
Where do I find the stop numbers?
Typically the stop numbers are written on the stops themselves on the metal plate on the pole, however they can be found a few other ways as well. I find Google Maps is a great way to find these ahead of time using their "Get Directions" link and selecting "public transit".
How does it all work?
The system uses GPS tracking to estimate arrival times. As with any TTC service, the reliability is not 100% however I find it is much more useful than many apps out there and it doesn't take any data so that's a bonus!
How to use the Service
Save a contact in your phone named "Next Bus" with phone number TXT-TTC (898-882). This is not a standard phone number format, and doesnNot require all 10 digits.
Send a text to this number containing only the bus stop number (for example, 1716 for the CNIB Toronto office West side bus stop). For iPhone users you can just tell SIRI "text next bus 1716".
The service will reply with the next few times the bus will come to that stop. This will happen for all buses scheduled for that stop.