Mississauga – A city built for the cars

When an obligatory Transit service is more for Image-building than Commute-building

The Absolute Condo, MississaugaIn the Greater Toronto Area – or the GTA as it is called – the suburban city-town of Mississauga, where I lived right after I landed in Canada, is a sprawling sister-neighbourhood of Toronto which strives hard to deserve the respect of being called a city. Or does it?

Having been growing in the shadows of the megapolis Toronto, the Mississauga city planners – to a new and fresh observer like me – seem to be competing against each other to get their suburb the recognition of a city that it should deserve. There are plans for building an amazingly post-modern architecture condominium neighbourhood around the City Centre, which boasts the upcoming The Absolute high-rise – an awe-inspiring (when it finishes, of course) spectacle.

But there are also quirks about Mississauga that I have noticed.

First and foremost is the absence of a working-class-friendly mass-transit system. Mississauga Transit BrochureYup, the Mississauga Transit may boast one of the most efficient and large city-bus service for its size in Ontario, but it really falls short of many things. It seems the transit authorities are really into image-building rather than commute-building: focused more on amazing Online Trip Planners than actually increasing the number of routes and frequency which may not require such tools. It has become apparent, to my inexperienced and newcomer eyes, that the service is more concerned about an ageing and retired population more than the working population (it must be equally focused to all sections of the society). But as always, I take the liberty of my initial thoughts on the matter here on this blog, and my perception might as well change in future.

Why do I criticize? Well, first, except for a handful of routes that run across large streets, there’s an amazing Fortune 500 companies head offices in Mississauga, Ontario lack of frequently timed buses for the other, or less reachable areas of the town. Case in point: the Tech Avenue and other business districts, which house some of the most coveted Fortune 500 company head offices a city could ever boast, but are served by an astonishingly low frequency routes, and even more jokingly, only in the rush hours with a ridiculous timing that goes around every half-an-hour or so in the evening or morning only. This just proves that the Mississauga Transit authorities are really catering to shopping-mall-going-teens or bingo-visiting-grannys in order to get their system a good press and word-of-mouth.

Bear in mind that new generation of workers and especially in technology industry, some of who I’ve talked to, and who work in these companies, are traditionally the most environment conscious everywhere in the world. But here they have been forced to drive to work. Simply because of an absence of good transit option available from various Mississauga locations – from where a large number of these guys and girls go to work (as Mississauga offers a better quality of family lifestyle for men and women over, say, 50.)

The city, sadly, is built for cars. I still have to see the full glory of transiting in Mississauga during snow-covered sidewalks, which are a far cry from a subway-gifted Toronto or any other large city during Canadian winter where commuters don’t actually have much to worry about “getting there.”

Which begs the question, why hasn’t Mississauga got a more frequented mass-transit system that delivers people to actual places and not yards and at times, kilometres away – and at a more frequently intervalled bus system? Surely it should make more economic sense?

Ah, but what do I know – I’m still learning here!

First Published: November 4th, 2006


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