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2002 Transportation — Co-winner 1

City of Brampton, Ontario

Improving Transit Ridership and Transit Means to Accommodate Growth

Population: 351,646

Large cities typically experience the challenge the City of Brampton faced in the mid-1990s. As subdivisions grow, transit services are not implemented fast enough to give new residents the choice of using transit. As a result, many people decide to purchase a second car. Brampton's proactive approach introduced transit routes to new subdivisions as early as possible. Brampton Transit staff participated in the road network development of all new subdivisions, and had input into subdivision plans on features, such as the location of bus stops and pedestrian walkways. Subdivision agreements include a requirement to phase in development so that transit servicing can be provided in an affordable manner, and roads are wide enough and have appropriate turnaround areas for buses. The result has been a 40 per cent increase in ridership between 1996 and 2000, double the percentage of population growth for the same period.


In 1998, the City of Brampton adopted "The Four Cornerstones of Brampton", a strategic plan for the community that includes a commitment to an efficient transportation network. The city's specific goals for public transit are to:

  • increase ridership on the Brampton Transit system;
  • ensure a funding stream for the capital and operating requirements of Brampton Transit sufficient to maintain its position as the most efficient transit system in the Greater Toronto Area; and
  • integrate Brampton Transit with GO Transit and other municipal transit systems.

Before adopting the strategic plan, however, several other factors helped the city develop a new focus on public transit. In 1995, the transit department was moved from the community services department to public works. Before the move, the transit department, parks and recreation, and the fire department had all competed for budget revenues. Moving transit to public works meant that all transportation matters were now planned within one department. "All of a sudden, competition became a non-issue. The roads budget is huge and transit became a component of that", said Director of Transit Glen Marshall.

Another factor favouring public transit was a transportation study performed in 1995-1996 showing that, even if all roads planned for Brampton were built to capacity, the modal share (share of riders carried by different transport modes) for transit would need to be 25 per cent to avoid significant congestion.


  • Brampton's original target was a 65 per cent return on investment. By carefully planning transit infrastructure as subdivisions are built, the city's cost recovery has increased from 62 per cent in 1996 to 74 per cent in 2000.
  • Ridership grew by over 40 per cent between 1996 and 2000, double the increase in Brampton's population and double the national transit ridership increases for the same period.
  • Net operating costs decreased from 98¢ per passenger in 1996 to 62¢ per passenger by 2000.

Lessons Learned

  • The project was well timed to coincide with a growing economy and significant development growth in Brampton. Had the city not been proactive in bringing public transit to the new subdivisions, it would have been left in a "catch up" position.

  • New subdivisions must be planned from the beginning to be transit friendly and operating standards, clear objectives and good planning are the keys to operating an efficient public transit service.



  • Public Works department
  • Planning department
Page Updated: 21/12/2015