The Mississauga Transitway is now 'complete', according to a recent Ontario Government news release—but is it really?

Last week, Ontario's Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca journeyed out to the Airport Corporate Centre—straddling the boundary between Toronto and Mississauga—to officially open Renforth Station, the easternmost station of the Bus Rapid Transit line.

Minister Del Duca offically opening Renforth Station and declaring the transitway complete, image, @stevendelduca

At the station, he met the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Malton (on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities), Bonnie Crombie, the Mayor of Mississauga, and Peter Zuk, Metrolinx's Chief Capital Officer, to officially open the station and declare completion of the project. Two local members of the provincial parliament also attended; Amrit Mangat (Mississauga-Brampton South), and Yann Baker (Etobicoke Centre).

Mangat, Baker, Zuk, Bains, Crombie, Del Duca at Renforth, image, @stevendelduca

In fact, MiWay, TTC and GO Transit buses have been dropping off and picking up passengers in the new station since November 22.

The 18-kilometre (11-mile) busway extends from Winston Churchill in the west to Renforth, with 12 stops in between. For the most part, MiWay and GO Transit buses zip along their own private roadway to and from the stations, although the buses also use shoulder lanes along Highway 403 between Erin Mills Parkway and Mavis Road and share space with other vehicles along several streets in the Mississauga City Centre area.

A map of the Mississauga Transitway, image, City of Mississauga

At Transit Toronto, Peter Drost and James Bow explain some of the early history of the project:

"There is something to be said for persistence. For almost forty years, the Mississauga Transitway was the rapid transit line that would not be built. At least eighteen studies were commissioned between 1970 and 1992 proposing a bus-only corridor parallel to Highway 403 through Central Mississauga and, until 2010, nothing came of them.

"But during this time, the population of Mississauga grew and grew. Development filled out the city, and a dense downtown built up around the Square One mall and Mississauga Civic Centre. The need for rapid transit in the city became clear. Finally, in 2010, construction began on the first phase of the bus-only roadway that would eventually connect the end of the Bloor-Danforth subway line to the western edge of Mississauga."

Ontario's Minister of the Environment approved several environmental assessment plans for the project. In the 1990s, the minister approved a plan that would have resulted in another station west of Winston Churchill at Ridgeway Drive. With that plan, the transitway would have continued along the north side of the 403, with two more stations at Creditview and Mavis Roads. It then would have crossed under the highway through a tunnel to reach the Mississauga city centre area.

A 1992 plan for the Transitway included more stations and a tunnel under Highway 403, image, Transit Toronto

However, the City has revised the original plan considerably since it first proposed it—mostly to save money—resulting the current route along the shoulders of Highway 403.

The 1992 plan for the tunnel under Highway 403 at the Mississauga city centre, image, Transit Toronto

A joint partnership among all three levels of government funded the project. The Government of Canada contributed as much as $83 million to the project through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The Province of Ontario provided $113 million, which includes its investment in GO Transit assets. The City of Mississauga and the Province of Ontario funded the remaining project costs.

The City of Mississauga built the central and largest part of the line, starting in 2010. This section includes a station at the City Centre Transit Terminal (beside Square One mall) and eight more stations on a bus-only roadway beside the 403 and Eastgate Parkway and the north side of Eglinton Avenue. The City opened Central Parkway, Cawthra, Tomken and Dixie stations in November 2014 and Tahoe and Etobicoke Creek in May 2016. It opened its final two stations, Spectrum and Orbitor, in February, 2017.

Metrolinx agreed to build two stations—Winston Churchill and Erin Mills—on the west end of the line along a new bus roadway parallel to, and north, of Highway 403. Its contractors started working on this segment of the corridor in November 2013. It opened Erin Mills to GO Transit buses in September, 2015. Some MiWay buses joined them at the station in May 2016. Metrolinx opened the transitway west of Erin Mills and the new Winston Churchill Station a year ago in December, 2016.

A rendering of the aerial view looking west at Winston Churchill transitway station, image, Metrolinx

Metrolinx was also responsible for Renforth at the corridor's east end to serve GO, MiWay and TTC buses. It identified the Renforth site in 2012 as a transportation mobility hub to integrate bus rapid transit and local bus service. Construction of the station started in 2014. It also incorporated a parcel of land that the City of Toronto formerly owned and that the TTC used as bus loop, into the site.

From Renforth, GO and MiWay buses can access Highway 427 to travel into Toronto to connect with the TTC subway, or head north to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Eventually, passengers can also connect at Renforth with the Eglinton Avenue West extension of the Crosstown LRT, which will probably whisk them to and from a new transit hub at the airport, too.

A MiWay bus leaves Orbitor Station on the Mississauga Transitway, August 7, 2017, photo, James Bow, Transit Toronto

The Mississauga Transitway is now 'complete'—but is it really? The draft Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan identifies the downtown segment of the Mississauga Transitway as a priority project for the next 20 years. And, Metrolinx is also exploring ways to connect the transit west of Winston Churchill with Highway 407, possibly as part of its plan to build another transitway parallel to that highway between Burlington and Clarington.

We'll continue to update you on the progress of the any future phases of the Transitway, if and when they occur. In the meantime, you can join in the conversation by visiting the project's Forum thread or by leaving a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.