[IMAGE]Miss-10.jpg[/IMAGE]A new citywide strategic plan is playing a major role in changes being made at the Ontario-based Mississauga Transit. The transit system is rebranding its services, and adding a bus rapid transit (BRT) line and 15 new hybrid vehicles to its fleet.
The changes began when the city decided it wanted to begin "Developing a Transit-Oriented City" as part of its five "Strategic Pillars for Change."
"The vision of this pillar is that the future Mississauga is a city where people can get around without an automobile and where transit will directly influence and shape the form of the city," said Geoff Wright, director, transportation project office.
Transit service changes were implemented with three objectives in mind: To influence a modal shift to transit, specifically by attracting the choice rider; for transit to support land use, intensification and the development of a transit-oriented city; and to establish a framework to support the development of a rapid transit network.
The city also changed the name of its transportation system from Mississauga Transit to MiWay this past August.
Beginning Oct. 4, customers will be able to choose between two types of the newly rebranded MiWay service — MiExpress (blue) buses that will operate on five limited-stop express routes and MiLocal (orange) buses, which will operate on local and school routes. "The new brand represents a customer-focused approach to grow ridership and is the beginning of an ongoing journey to enhance the value of service being delivered to our existing customers and to earn the business of new riders," Wright explained.
As part of the rebranding, MiWay procured 15 Orion VII hybrid buses from Daimler Buses North America, equipped with BAE hybrid propulsion systems, which were delivered between August and September.
"Discussion to purchase hybrid buses was influenced by a number of factors, including reduced emissions, increased fuel economy and reduced maintenance costs compared to conventionally powered buses," Wright said. "Passenger comfort is also expected to be enhanced on these buses by the quieter operation from the propulsion system."
A new MiWay Website — www.miway.ca — was also planned for launch in September, along with a version for mobile devices that displays the next three departure times or the full schedule for any day of the week, for any bus stop in Mississauga.
Scheduled to begin operation in 2013, the $249 million BRT project will create an 11-mile, dedicated east-west BRT corridor across Mississauga to be shared by Toronto's Go Transit, which will combine the use of a dedicated busway and Provincial Highway bus bypass shoulders and will see the construction of 11 new transit stations.
Meanwhile, the Hurontario/Main Street Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project, an 11-mile, north-south LRT corridor, is entering the preliminary design and environmental assessment stage.
A continuing communication and education campaign is needed to grow ridership among two distinct and equally important audiences, Wright explained. The first consists of existing riders, which includes business commuters and students. The second audience comprises "choice riders," such as those traveling in their vehicles to work or school during peak traffic hours.
"In many cases, choice riders are considering the purchase of a second vehicle," Wright explained. "The ongoing communication and education campaign will present a compelling proposal to encourage the transit choice as a smart, reliable and convenient transportation option."
The campaign will continue over the next three years, as service improvements are introduced and as the BRT system opening approaches. The campaign is expected to achieve an 80 percent penetration rate among all Mississauga residents in its first year.