Does Brampton Transit suck? 

It’s interesting to hear that Brampton Transit “sucks”

I realize it is a service that doesn’t work for me personally, as I have two young children enrolled in two different schools and two separate sets of activities. The fact is that transit could not get me and my children to school(s) and work and swimming lessons and gymnastics and dance lessons and piano lessons and the gym in an efficient way, if at all. Even if it could get us there in a timely way, three times the bus fare would make it far less appealing an option.

However, on those days I am a single man (spouse and children fully occupied without need of my help) I actually could get rid of my car entirely and just get around on transit. I live and work in Brampton, my office is along Queen Street and within walking distance on a nice day, my bank is adjacent to my office, and the bus gets me to work in a reasonably speedy way on those days I have decided to use it (I posted about this on this site). In fact, a monthly bus pass would save me over $700 a month, if it was a viable alternative.
But does that mean that Brampton Transit “sucks”?

Well, there is only one fair way to answer that question: compare it to similar transit systems in similar cities. After all, if we compare it the Enterprise Teleporters, of course it won’t stand up. If we compare it to  the NYC transit system, it doesn’t stand a chance. But we have to compare apples to apples.

Brampton vs Mississauga, Hamilton and London

Brampton transit reports an annual ridership of the 20.4M on 46 routes (2014 data)

Mississauga boasts 36.6M riders on 59 routes.

Hamilton scored 32M riders

London posted 21.1M riders on 39 routes

One thing is for certain – our ridership is not in keeping with our comparators. So does this mean transit sucks? After all, if less riders use it doesn’t that indicate its not as good? Can’t the evidence of adoption stand for evidence of quality, or lack thereof?

Even Kitchener/Waterloo, with slightly more than half our population, clocks in at approximately 14.6M – which per capita is much higher than Brampton

So what do KW, Hamilton,  Mississauga and London have in common? Why is their transit ridership higher than Brampton’s? Is this a symptom of Brampton Transit “sucking”?

Well, let’s look at cities that do NOT have Universities and see what happens. 

Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill all come under York Region Transit, a service which benefits from connecting with the TTC.  Bearing that in mind, with a combined population greater than Brampton’s, their annual ridership is 22.1M approx. Interesting. More people but not really more adoption.

Burlington transit had 2.1M riders in 2013, older data admittedly. But if we prorated that by a factor of 3x to correct for the population difference, we only get to 6.3M riders to Brampton’s 20.4M. Interesting.

Windsor does better than Burlington at 3.43M riders, but again, even times 3, Brampton looks pretty good.

Barrie increased it’s ridership in 2014 with a system overhaul to 2.7M. At a 4X multiplier to correct for population size, that is 10.8M riders to Brampton’s 20M. Interesting.

The hearts and minds of the university crowd

When people see patterns, it is natural to assume a cause and effect relationship. It easy to confuse causation and correlation. I don’t wish to do that. This is just a set of numbers as food for thought. It would be grossly premature to draw the conclusion that the battle over transit is actually the battle for the hearts and minds of university students in the hopes that they will actually show up to vote. The issue is: Are we building transit to attract a University? Or are we building a University to fill up our buses?

This isnt very scientific, but i conclude the key variable is University aged riders. IF TRUE, it is reassuring to know that perhaps Brampton Transit doesn’t suck, but our lower transit uptake is actually just a symptom of our pre-existing condition: the need for a University.

Here’s looking at you Province of Ontario!

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