In 2017 Brampton Transit ridership grew a whopping 17 per cent, making it the fastest-growing transit system in Canada. Naturally, it comes as no surprise that the city will see an influx of transit funding in the coming years to keep up with the rapid population growth, but can the funding keep up?
Approximately 12,000 people move into Brampton each year, and as a result, many of the city’s bus routes are seeing growth, some moderate and some pretty significant. About half of the ridership growth last year can be attributed to Brampton Transit’s Zum lines —Queen, Main, Steeles, Bovaird, and Queen West. Growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down either.
In 2017, the City of Brampton received $32.4 million from the federal government through phase 1 of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). Combined with the funds matched by the city, about $66 million was invested in the transit system.
The federal government recently announced a 10-year Public Transit funding stream and committed $8.3 billion and the provincial government $7.3 billion. Of those two pieces of funding, Brampton is expected to receive $191.6 million in federal funds and $158.1 million in provincial funds over the next 10 years, starting this year and ending in 2028.
85 per cent of the funding is expected to go towards new projects and growth, and the remaining 15 per cent for rehabilitation and maintenance works. BT will use the funding for new buses, for new Zum lines on Chinguacousy, Bramalea, and the completion of Airport Road to the airport, as well as new technology, and a third storage yard.
The funds are expected to see Bampton through its unprecedented growth and its long-term 2040 vision. But the funding formula used to decide how much money each city gets has been negatively impacting high-growth communities, including Brampton.
Funds were allocated based on 2015 ridership numbers, which don’t reflect its massive growth over the past two years. Using updated data from 2016 could have a huge impact on funding, allowing Brampton Transit to afford an additional 214 buses or 21 new buses a year for a decade.
City staff has put forward an advocacy position on ensuring that proper numbers are used for any funding, which they will be taking to city council for approval. Presumably, staff will then look to make up the gap in funding by going back to the federal and provincial governments.