Is the New Transit Way Only Convenient for MiWay?
MiWay's plan to move to a grid system over the next five years is by no means ill-advised, but that doesn't mean regular bus riders (and even some city councillors) aren't concerned about current or forthcoming changes to major routes.
The Miway 5 is the public transportation organization's five-year (2016-2020) plan to shift their current system to a grid network in an attempt to accommodate the incoming Hurontario-Main LRT and other transit expansion projects. You can actually read more about it here.
The plan, which has been shaped by community consultation, outlines what it calls its 10 Key Benefits and offers an overview of the proposed 2020 map and year-by-year changes. As for the benefits, MiWay says the plan will provide stronger corridors to support a grid network, provide more frequent service among corridors, offer more service outside of weekday rush hours, provide more express routes and more.
While the plan looks to be an adequate response to the city's changing transport needs, some riders have concerns about the plans -- namely that the new system will benefit drivers more than passengers.
"I just saw a notice at my bus stop that route 21 on Rathburn is [being rerouted] to that new bus line.
“So everyone in between Square One and Tomken who takes that bus is screwed because they have to get up to that bus line.”
I have to walk seven to 10 minutes after I drop [my daughter] off at school to get to Tomken and take two buses to get work," says Catherine, a long-term MiWay rider.
"I take the 21E that goes to Explorer drive.
“I used to be able to take it off of Rathburn and Willowbank and it would be 15 minutes.”
Now I have to take the 20 and go west to Central Parkway, walk up to the station then take the 21 from there.
“It takes about 30-35 minutes now.”
I walk to my daughter's school at Rathburn and Willowbank, and then take a bus from there. I do not drive like the majority of people who live here."
Since the proposed route changes will no doubt breed anxiety along with excitement, we reached out to MiWay to ask how concerns like Catherine's should be addressed. They gave us an overview of the benefits of the plan in an email.
"Route 21-Explorer currently provides a direct connection between the City Centre Transit Terminal in downtown Mississauga and businesses in the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre. The service is not scheduled to change until 2018. The Mississauga Transitway, an 18 km, east-west transit corridor across Mississauga with 12 stations, will be completed in spring 2017. MiWay 5 was built with community feedback and the service changes it outlines are aimed at streamlining and strengthening MiWay services by providing the right service level based on customer demand and evolving travel patterns."
Route 21 is changing to Route 74 - Airport Corporate Centre. According to an email by MiWay, the route will end at Dixie Transitway Station and maintain service along Explorer Drive with extended coverage that will include Aimco Blvd.
"Route 74 will become one of the major feeder routes in the Airport Corporate Centre that fully integrates with the Mississauga Transitway. Because MiWay has now begun a five-year to shift to a grid network, one particular route change cannot be evaluated without considering its impact on the overall network system design."
"Accordingly, a related change to the Route 21 change is the introduction of a new Mississauga Transitway Express Route 100 - Airport Express, which will not only connect the City Centre Transit Terminal and Pearson Airport Terminal 1, but will also improve frequencies of the existing Transitway Express Routes, Route 107 & 109. As a result, combined service frequencies along the Transitway - between the City Centre Transit Terminal and Renforth Gateway Station - will be less than four minutes by 2018."
So while the changes do show foresight, riders like Catherine are concerned about further changes to their already busy commutes.
"I have gotten used to this route over the year it has been opened, but as I said, it adds on an extra 15-20 minutes. I have to go in a circle to get where I need to go. [The idea that] more people will take the bus has proven not true.
This is Mississauga. The car rules here, except for people like me who don't drive or can't afford a car at the moment.
“There are only three routes on this line and I have yet to see a rise in commuters. There are never more than five people at a time at my station.”
I'm curious to know the stats of traffic conditions now that they took off three routes. Was it really worth it? Why would they change a regular bus route that stops at every bus stop and move it to a bus line that only has four stops so far. I get alleviating traffic, but how much traffic will one bus reduce because of route 21?"
While it's hard to say whether the changes -- both current and incoming -- are worth it now versus five (or 10) years from today, the fact of the matter is they're coming.
Mississauga's struggle with public transportation is very real, with riders often complaining about slow, inaccessible or infrequent service in a city where the car is indeed king. With an incoming LRT, the proposed construction of new mobility hubs and expected growth in the city's population, planners need to focus on creating a more robust bus system that connects to current, new and incoming transit hubs. The idea to build a more integrated network is a good (and long overdue) one. It's rational to better connect MiWay to the Go Transit system and plan for future infrastructure changes (namely the LRT).
All that said, the journey to a grid network will be a challenging one and alleviating passenger's concerns should be top of mind.
Fortunately for passengers like Catherine, MiWay is holding annual information sessions throughout the city over the next few years. Residents can attend info sessions this year from March 7-10 at various locations.
That said, Catherine says she feels like it's too late to speak out.
"I did complain, however, I know it wouldn't go anywhere because it's already built. They can't do anything about it now. I did contact City Councillor Chris Fonseca and she did get back to me since I accused Mississauga of only caring about people who can afford cars. Of course she was useless since, again, nothing to do now that it's been built."
If you have serious concerns about new or proposed routes, attend an info session or contact MiWay Customer Service at: miway [dot] customerservice [at] mississauga [dot] ca, 905-615-INFO (4636), or on Twitter @MiWayHelps.
How will the new routes or route changes affect your commute? Are you worried about the transition to a grid system, or do you feel it'll better suit your needs? Let us know in the comments.