Mississauga has finally stopped growing outwards, so it’s time to grow up. The city has built out to its boundaries with mostly low-density, car-dependent housing, and now the official strategy is to create a more transit-friendly environment, including a dense, highrise “downtown” near the Square One mall.
Thanks to tight budgets, Mississauga Transit (MT) has been expanding very modestly. Although riders can experience long waits between buses on some routes and overcrowding at certain times, overall the network is serving current needs, says MT director Geoff Marinoff. “I don’t think there is a lot of (extra) pent-up demand.”
Although buses can get so full they run “closed door” and bypass patrons at stops, Marinoff states these occurrences are often random and cannot be easily solved by just adding vehicles.
Regular MT user David Fisher points out that wait times of every 30 minutes or more (in some areas), as well as a reduced Sunday network, means many residents will keep using their cars.
Marinoff says non-performing routes have already been pruned as much as possible, so putting out more buses on weekends, nights or along certain corridors would require cutting service elsewhere.
The city has been able to launch a fledgling express bus grid, but most lines run only in peak periods. Fisher says not only is MT’s express service too skimpy, but vehicles often move too slowly. Marinoff replies times have been revised and this is being monitored more closely.
However, he adds, until transit priority measures are implemented, such as exclusive Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes, an express bus is not a lot quicker than a local one.
“The challenge of a limited-stop express service,” Marinoff says, “is that you’re going as fast as the traffic and the lights allow, and the only thing you really save is you’re not stopping (at every local stop).”
Mississauga’s first BRT route along Highway 403 and Eglinton Avenue is set to open fully in 2012. Next on the list for higher-order transit is Hurontario Street.