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Backgrounder on Mississauga's BRT

Background

Recent estimates indicate that over the next 30 years, the number of people living in Ontario will grow by as many as four million - with the majority living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Our GTA transportation infrastructure is already strained to the limit to support current levels of population and movement. Other solutions are required.

Higher-order transit

One important way of addressing traffic congestion is to transition commuters from individual vehicles to higher-order transit solutions (also referred to as "mass transit"). Higher-order transit is the most efficient and sustainable way to address increased traffic requirements in a city setting.  Having a more extensive, reliable and convenient transit system will be critical in order for Mississauga and the GTA to accommodate anticipated growth.

The City of Mississauga faces some challenges in this effort due to the high costs of supporting transit for the City's population and employment while still servicing high-volume corridors of travel. The City recognizes these challenges and has developed a comprehensive plan of timely, cost-effective solutions for addressing increased congestion. These are summarized in the City's transit ridership growth strategy, which establishes a five-year target of achieving a 25 per cent increase in the use of higher-order transit in Mississauga.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System

Central to this plan is the development of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System -- a high-efficiency transit corridor and service being developed in partnership with the Federal Government, Province of Ontario, GO Transit (a Division of Metrolinx) and the City of Mississauga.  Modeled on successful transit systems from progressive municipalities around the world, the BRT represents a highly efficient, comparatively low-cost solution to moving high numbers of people across the region.  It's similar to rail-based transit in terms of providing a dedicated right-of-way for transit vehicles, except instead of a costly rail system, it will use dedicated roads and buses.

Mississauga's segment, running from Ridgeway Drive to Renforth Drive, will be part of a 100 km transit corridor connecting municipalities from Oakville to Pickering. The BRT System will complement and connect with local bus services and inter-regional transit and subway systems, linking high-density development and employment centres across the city. Mississauga's 12 designated stations will provide key connection points. Several stations will feature passenger pick up and drop off and/or park-and-ride facilities.

The BRT System will support extensive express bus service for thousands of riders per day, making it faster and easier to travel to, from and through Mississauga and the GTA. It will play an important role in the continued evolution of the GTA, Canada's largest population and business centre. Mississauga's role in this development is pivotal due to:

  • Location: Mississauga is strategically located between Halton Region to the west, Brampton to the north, and Metro Toronto to the east, effectively forming the hub for all travel in the western half of the GTA.
  • Integration: Mississauga's transit system ties in directly to the transit systems of its neighbouring municipalities. It is served by GO trains on three different rail lines, as well as numerous GO buses. It is also home to Canada's largest international airport.
  • Population: Mississauga is home to more than 700,000 people, many of whom need to travel quickly and safely within Mississauga and into neighbouring jurisdictions each day.
  • Business: Mississauga is a major employment centre for industry and commerce, home to more corporate head offices than any other jurisdiction in Canada.

Benefits

The BRT System will benefit both the people that use it, and the city and region in general.

The BRT System will make riders' travel better through:

  • increased reliability: your trip will be less likely to be affected by traffic congestion, so you'll get where you need to go on time
  • reduced travel time: your trip will be faster in relation to both current transit options and automobile travel, so you'll spend less time commuting and more time doing the things you want to do[1]
  • greater convenience: improved security, protection from the elements and improved service information mean a more comfortable ride
  • greater accessibility: more transit means better options for those without access to a car

The BRT System will make Mississauga and our surrounding communities better through:

  • increased capacity: Mississauga will be able to move significantly more people without having to add to the costly public road network[2]
  • reduced automobile traffic: the BRT system is projected to divert thousands of riders a day from private automobiles to higher-order transit, reducing automobile traffic significantly during high-volume periods[3]
  • reduced emissions: with vehicle emissions contributing significantly to climate change; reduced traffic means better air for everyone
  • increased density: the BRT will support increased intensity and density of development along the corridor through Mississauga and the GTA, supporting the healthy growth of residential and employment centres
  • increased safety: public transit is the safest form of transportation, with the rates of injury or death due to accident significantly lower for public transit versus private automobile[4]

Development

The Mississauga segment of the BRT System will cover 18 kilometres along Highway 403 and Eglinton Avenue, connecting Winston Churchill Boulevard in the west to Renforth Drive in the east.

Planning and investment began over a decade ago, when the City of Mississauga and the Ministry of Transportation Ontario entered into a partnership to support the future BRT System by upgrading the shoulders along Highway 403 from Erin Mills Parkway to Mavis Road, and by building Centreview Drive from the Mavis Road/403 interchange into the core of the Mississauga City Centre. This partnership and vision proved to be a success, as GO Transit introduced a precursor to the BRT service in 2001 followed by the opening of the Bus Bypass Shoulders (BBS) along Highway 403 from Erin Mills Parkway to Mavis Road in 2003. Since the opening of the BBS, GO Transit's BRT precursor bus service has been able to save up to 10 minutes per trip on the congested section of Highway 403 between Erin Mills Parkway and the City Centre transit terminals. Ridership on GO's BRT precursor service has grown from 4,000 to over 12,000 passengers per day since 2003.

Construction of the new BRT infrastructure is expected to commence in 2009 and will focus on two main sections. The west section, "BRT West", will provide dedicated bus lanes adjacent to Highway 403 between Winston Churchill Boulevard and Erin Mills Parkway, and will connect with the existing BBS along Highway 403 between Erin Mills Parkway and Mavis Road (connected to the City Centre by Centre View Drive). The east section, "BRT East", will run along the 403/Eglinton corridor from the City Centre to Renforth Drive. The entire project is slated for full operation in 2015.

The BRT West, from Winston Churchill Boulevard to Erin Mills Parkway, will be the responsibility of GO Transit. BRT Stations with Park and Ride lots will be built at Winston Churchill Boulevard and Erin Mills Parkway. 

The City of Mississauga is responsible for the construction of the BRT East from the City Centre to Renforth Station (Commerce Blvd.). BRT stations with Park and Ride lots will be built at Cawthra Road and Dixie Road. Additional BRT stations will be constructed at Tomken Road, Tahoe Boulevard, Etobicoke Creek, Spectrum Way and Orbiter Drive.

To view a conceptual map of the Mississauga Segment of the BRT, click here.

Funding

The BRT proposal has already been reviewed and approved by each level of government, and the development plan is well under way. The BRT is a key component of Ontario's Smart Growth plan for development of the GTA, as well as Mississauga's own Rapid Transit Program. 

Total costs for completion of the Mississauga portion of the system are approximately $259 million which is equitably funded by the Federal Government, the Province of Ontario, GO Transit and the City of Mississauga. The Province and the Federal Government have already committed $173 million to the development of the BRT in Mississauga because they understand its importance to the economic and social fabric of the GTA and, ultimately, the country as a whole. The City of Mississauga has also received budget approval for its share of the development and operating costs as part of its overall transit strategy.

User fares will go towards the operating costs of the service. While fare structures have not yet been determined, projections indicate that the cost of using the BRT will be less than the cost of maintaining and fueling a private automobile for the same amount of travel. You won't just save time on the BRT, you'll save money, too.

Environmental impact

The City has undergone an extensive series of provincial environmental assessments evaluating the physical, socio-cultural and economic impacts of the construction and operation of the BRT. The results are very favourable, and all efforts are being made through the development and implementation to ensure that any negative impacts are minimized.


 

[1-4] Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund Submission, March 2007






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