No doubt everyone has heard the great news: Brampton Transit experienced a ridership surge in 2017, growing by 18.4 per cent over the last year, compared to 9.2 per cent in 2016.

Brampton Transit’s growth is outpacing every major transit agency in Canada. For example, MiWay (part of Mississauga Transit) to the south only grew by one per cent, and York Region Transit to the east grew by 1.2 per cent.

What’s not exactly clear is where this ridership is growing. Bramptonist asked for the Fall Board Period (September to December) ridership statistics from 2012 to 2017. The fall was chosen as it is generally when new service changes are introduced and ridership is at its highest for the year. Brampton Transit and City of Brampton provided the data in response to our request.

General notes on the data: we’ve chosen to use the weekday average data, as opposed to the Saturday or Sunday data. This is partially because ridership is higher during the week, but also, all routes run Monday to Friday, and there are some that don’t run on weekends. We’ve also not chosen to use the school route data, as the numbers are very low, and the routes are restrictive.

As you can tell above, the first three Züm routes (Queen, Main, and Steeles) far outstrip everything else. The next 10 routes are what the city considers to be primary, or support corridors. Not all the primary corridors are in this top section, and the 505 Bovaird is in 19th place.

Speaking of the 505 Bovaird, it has the second lowest ridership of all five Züm corridors, and aside from a bump between 2014 and 2015, hasn’t grown substantially. The 561 Queen West has one of the lowest ridership counts, but most of its coverage area is still under development. 501 Queen ridership likely spiked in 2017 due to the connection to the new Spadina Subway extension in December. Also notable is that ridership on the 511 Steeles has overtaken the 502 Main in the fall 2017 period, in spite of the Ontario college strike, which would have disrupted and led to lower passengers to Sheridan College and Humber College.

The above chart shows passenger counts on Züm corridors in comparison to their corresponding local corridor. Perhaps what might be expected is that local primary routes still see healthy growth, likely due to the Züm lines not stopping at mid-block stops. We don’t mean to pick on the 505 Bovaird, but its corresponding local route is the only local route that has higher ridership than the express corridor.

This will probably change in the fall when the 505 is re-routed onto the north-south portion of the 5 Bovaird and 30 Airport. The 561 Queen West isn’t shown, as a local route (the 56 Springbrook) was removed in 2016.

We can see the growth percentage for four of the Züm corridors. By fall 2016, each corridor has grown between one and 6.5 per cent. By fall 2017, the Queen, Main, and Steeles corridors grew by 14, 15.6, and 20.9 per cent respectively, reflecting the transit agency’s overall high growth.

The 561 Queen West isn’t reflected in the above, as it was only introduced in fall 2016. It did grow by 40 per cent between fall 2016 and 2017, but as the numbers involved are very low, and as it has an infrequent schedule similar to local, community routes, it’s not a fair comparison to the more frequent Züm routes.

The city defines primary corridors as those that support the Züm corridors, and are the base grid of service in the city. The top five primary corridors in the city have stayed the same, though the order changes from year-to-year. They include routes that currently have a Züm corridor as well (1 Queen, 5 Bovaird), a future Züm corridor (4 Chinguacousy), a corridor that has been identified for Züm by 2041 and may host an LRT line (7 Kennedy), and a route that has a shared semi-express with MiWay and has been identified as a future regional bus priority corridor by Metrolinx (18 Dixie).

Similar to the Züm lines, primary corridors have experienced a huge amount of ridership growth. Almost all the north-south corridors jumped in fall 2017, except for the 18 Dixie. Shifting patterns with its branches, as well as the introduction of the 185 Dixie Express a few years ago, have likely eaten into growth specifically in that corridor. Similarly, ridership on the 30 Airport will probably fall by the end of 2018, when the rerouted 505 Bovaird runs along its route.

The five non-Züm east-west primary corridors have also experienced strong growth, except for the 29 Williams Parkway. It experienced a major growth between 2015 and 2016, but has since slowed down. The most impressive jump has to be the 20 per cent difference in growth for the 5 Bovaird.

Fall 2012-2017 data provided by Brampton Transit and the City of Brampton. All charts created by Divyesh Mistry for use by Bramptonist.