The recession is taking such a toll on transit ridership in Mississauga that the city is considering scaling back its aggressive growth plan designed to lure residents out of their cars and onto the bus.

The drop in ridership — six per cent across the system in the first four months of this year — runs counter to a trend in the GTA that has seen transit use continue to grow despite climbing unemployment.

Ridership on some Mississauga routes in industrial areas around Dixie and Tomken roads is down as much as 25 per cent, according to a report before the city’s budget committee.

The city’s commissioner of transportation and works is hopeful that Mississauga ridership will recover through the summer and fall. Meantime, slowing expansion “is the rational thing to do because the economy has slowed,” said Martin Powell.

Other factors may have played into the year’s slow start, he said, including the TTC’s decision to freeze fares while Mississauga raised its own even higher, as well as miserable winter weather that may have discouraged people from taking the bus in January and February.

Mississauga increased cash fares to $3 in January, the second hike in 11 months. The TTC charges $2.75.

The budget report recommends that there be no general fare increase next year. But it does propose raising the cost of the U-Pass (for university students) by $15 effective in September 2010, and eliminating routes that cost the city more than $4 per ride. It doesn’t indicate which routes would be affected.

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