With the TTC under close scrutiny lately, I’ve asked 905 riders for impressions of other GTA transit systems.
Brampton’s Justin Gonsalves had a comment that rings familiar: He says his complaints to Brampton Transit (BT) about unpaved bus stops and infrequent schedules “are never replied to.”
I can at least report that for riders in some parts of Brampton, service is about to get significantly better. The first of several Züm routes (pronounced zoom) is to open along Queen Street in September. It’s a limited-stop bus service much like York Region’s Viva.
Buses run with traffic but signal priority helps them stay on time — about every seven minutes in peak, 15 minutes off peak. Major routes that intersect with Züm will also be goosed to every 10 minutes in September. The Züm network expands to Brampton’s Main Steet in 2011 and Steeles Avenue in 2012.
BT director Sue Connor tells me her agency receives about 650,000 calls annually and “in 2009 we had 1,700 complaints.” She says BT aims to reply — at least initially — in five working days, and she is notified of all customer issues that are not “completed” promptly. Readers, tell me if you find otherwise.
Connor says being bypassed by a bus is a top grievance. (That’s also true at TTC.) This September, GPS technology should help Brampton Transit prove to callers whether a vehicle was ahead of time or not, or if it was in fact the one they wanted.
More crucially, BT riders can expect many new “SmartBus” features to predict when their next bus should actually arrive — via both computer and handheld devices. Also this fall, the Presto fare card comes to Brampton Transit. All these initiatives ought to boost what is an already fast-growing suburban system.
But typical low-density problems remain: Some routes still see buses only every 30 minutes. Plus, only half of BT’s 2,260 stops have concrete pads and there are currently just 380 shelters. That can mean mud and/or unpleasant waits in many areas.
Local transit riders in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Durham: I’d like to hear from you next.