Corp Comm Connects

Caledon transit - Growth pushing demand

July 15, 2015
By Edward LaRusic

The Town of Caledon is growing and looking to expand transit service, but minimizing the cost to its taxpayers will be fundamental to determining who operates it and how frequently service will run.

With significant population and employment growth on its way, council has asked staff to study the introduction of local transit service to and from its two growth areas-Bolton and Mayfield West-and the Tullamore employment area on Mayfield Road, as well as improved inter-regional transit.

Mayor Allan Thompson told NRU that the town needs to incrementally build transit capacity to the town’s employment areas-notably within Bolton-in order to connect workers to jobs.

“Bolton is booming business wise, it needs more employees. There’s a lot of work being created, which is a good news story, we always want to create employment. To do that we need to bring transit in as well. “

Public works director David Loveridge told NRU that Bolton and Mayfield West will each be adding over 10,000 new residents by 2031. Staff is studying how best to connect that population growth to local employment and to transit systems such as Brampton Transit, York Region Transit and the Toronto Transit Commission.

GO Transit runs two bus routes to and from Caledon-one on Highway 10/Hurontario Street to Caledon Village and the other on Highway 50 through Bolton. The town also contracts Brampton Transit for peak-hour transit service to its Tullamore employment area, northeast of Mayfield Road and Airport Road, at a cost of $50,000 annually. Staff is currently negotiating with Brampton Transit to provide additional service to the west portion of Mayfield West.

“What we need to be able to do is get people from Caledon to the south to go to work, to go to school, to go shopping, or to bring people into Caledon to our industrial and commercial businesses that are here,” he said.

Loveridge said that the Highway 50 GO Transit bus route has been a boon to Bolton, but it won’t be able to keep up with the growing demand. He said the buses don’t run frequently enough to be useful to students and employees, and it doesn’t connect well to larger transit systems to the south.

Thompson said that he has been speaking with Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey about contracting Brampton Transit to bring more service to Caledon, which he thinks it much more affordable than starting a new system from scratch.

He envisions new transit routes and schedules being added incrementally, working with local businesses to align transit service with shift changes. He foresees any future service running on four or six hour loops.

Loveridge agrees that working with Brampton makes the most sense to start with, but staff will also be examining the merits of creating an entirely new system. New transit routes may start with peak-hour service, but he thinks buses will need to offer regular service, operating on half hour intervals.

“If it’s going to succeed it’s going to have to be a regular service throughout the day that allows students and people that are working different shift s access to the south.”

Whether staff recommends setting up an entirely new transit service for Caledon or not will depend on two factors: cost and demand. But Loveridge thinks there is potential the town to operate its own service, noting that the Town of Orangeville has a population that’s almost half of Caledon’s and it has its own transit system.

Thompson said he doesn’t think Caledon starting its own transit service is wise a wise move.

“I think we’ve got to get our costs of operations down.

We’ve got to find efficiencies.”

What Thompson would prefer is a regional transit service similar to York Region Transit, rather than separate transit systems for each lower-tier municipality.

“I know Brampton has its own transit system and Mississauga’s got theirs. In my opinion, I think we need to look at multi-region transit systems and get our overhead down so it’s affordable for residents to take transit.”

Bolton Ward 5 regional councillor Annette Groves agreed with Thompson that that there is no demand nor appetite from residents to have Caledon pay for its own transit system, but there is merit in having a regional transit body.

She also wants the province “to step up to the plate” and bring GO train service to Bolton.

“The town does have a hub identified in Bolton for future GO train service. That is where I think we need to focus, on having the GO train service. We have a lot of our residents that are working outside, and honestly, we need to figure out how we can attract the industry here that will be able to hire the people who live here.”

Staff expects to report back to council with recommendations in mid-2016.