Mississauga on the right track with public transit, researcher suggests

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Published March 1, 2023 at 9:08 am

MiWay gets rid of blue buses in move to go all orange
(Photo: City of Mississauga)

Mississauga is on the right track when it comes to continually strengthening its public transit bus system, according to a transit researcher.

MiWay, the City of Mississauga’s public transit provider, introduced another in an ongoing series of service improvements this past Monday (Feb. 27). The upgrades include the resumption of a Malton Express bus route and a host of service increases on routes operating in the busiest parts of Mississauga.

MiWay officials say they continually make improvements to the public transit service in efforts to make travel by bus easier for residents.

The last series of service improvements took effect on Jan. 2 and yet more upgrades are scheduled to take hold starting April 24.

Giving such high priority to improving public transit is critical to municipalities moving forward, a transit and rail research consultant and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto says.

Canadian cities should be nimble and prioritize service if they want to sustain and strengthen public transit systems in a time of declining ridership and labour challenges, says Willem Klumpenhouwer.

While cities like Montreal and Halifax are reducing bus routes to save money or deal with staff shortages, other cities such as Mississauga are increasing service.

Decisions to reduce bus service can contribute to a transportation “death spiral,” the researcher notes.

“There are two negative feedback loops going on in transit,” Klumpenhouwer said. When routes are cut and transit is less frequent or convenient, ridership declines. When there are fewer riders paying fares, cities lose income and are inclined to further reduce routes.

“Then you have a death spiral, as people call it,” he said.

This same cycle is affecting transit labour, Klumpenhouwer said, because as transit operators leave the job, remaining staff are asked to work more hours.

“That leads to higher attrition and less hiring, so there’s that same feedback loop.”

In Mississauga, the most notable MiWay changes to take effect this week include the resumption of the Route 107 Malton Express on Saturdays and weekday service increases on routes 3 Bloor, 35 Eglinton and 39 Britannia.

Additionally, MiWay officials say, there will be schedule adjustments on a number of other routes “to improve service reliability.”

–with files from The Canadian Press

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