2002 Transportation — Co-winner 3
City of Mississauga, Ontario
Mississauga Transit — GO Shuttle Service — Cooksville Station
A deceptively simple approach to transit service brought big results to the City of Mississauga. Using a 21-seat shuttle bus, passengers are driven from Cooksville to the GO Rail station so that parking requirements, traffic congestion and air pollution are reduced. Although there is a transit service to the GO Rail station, it was not convenient enough to attract many riders. What began as a six-month pilot program is now a permanent travel option, with about 900 residents using the service every week. Seventy-seven per cent of the new riders used to drive to the station or were dropped off by another driver. Based on these initial ridership reports, the city has estimated that 67 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year have been avoided.
In November 1999, Mississauga Transit presented a report to the general committee of the city, outlining the shuttle service concept. As part of the city's strategic plan to be an environmentally responsible community and to set the direction for long-term growth and development, Mississauga Transit wanted to introduce a customized door-to-door shuttle service to its clients in the Cooksville community. The existing transit service used arterial roads only and was not as convenient for residents who lived some distance away. Introducing smaller, air-conditioned buses onto local streets was not only a more attractive option for residents, it was more cost-effective than adding another large transit route. The city accepted Mississauga Transit's report and the shuttle service concept.
The shuttle service complements the city's smog response plan, introduced in 1999, which includes 36 air quality action plans. The city has also been recording its contribution toward greenhouse gas reduction since 1990, and has partnered with the City of Toronto in the 20/20 The Way to Clean Air pilot program launched in January 2002. The program encourages residents to reduce home energy use and the amount of driving done alone by 20 per cent. Mississauga has also been a participant in FCM's Partners for Climate Protection since 1998.
Owing to the city's strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the program encountered no policy or procedural barriers. In fact, "all city councillors supported the community busing concept," said Bill Cunningham, director of Mississauga Transit. "Each station we looked at (before one was chosen) was in a different ward and each councillor hoped that their ward would get the service."
- As of May 2002 about 3,200 people in the Cooksville area were using the GO shuttle service.
- Customer surveys found that 100 per cent are satisfied with the service, and that about three-quarters of them used to drive or were dropped off at the Cooksville GO Rail station. The shuttle service has effectively eliminated approximately 600 car trips.
- Based on the survey responses of September 2001, Mississauga Transit has estimated that the use of the GO shuttle service instead of cars has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 67 tonnes per year.
- The customer base grew quickly by word-of-mouth and direct contact with community residents. No advertising or marketing campaigns were undertaken.
- City council has approved the permanent continuation of the service.
- GO Transit and Mississauga Transit are now partners in joint advertising to promote local transit to and from GO Rail stations. "It benefits them as well if we can reduce the demand for parking at the stations and get more people using transit," said Mr. Cunningham.
- Contacting potential customers directly through surveys and by telephone was essential in designing the service to meet their needs.
- This project demonstrates that there is a market for high-quality transit services and that the success of the GO Shuttle service can be duplicated elsewhere.
Since ridership increased by word-of-mouth from satisfied customers, marketing needs to be stronger and ongoing. "Ridership has levelled off and we need to keep the momentum," said Mr. Cunningham.
- GO Transit