Text and photos by Sean Marshall
The Downtown Transit Centre in Brampton is one of a few truly intermodal terminals in the Greater Toronto Area. Apart from serving local Brampton Transit buses, it is also an important GO Transit bus station, the terminus of local buses to Yorkdale and York Mills, express buses to York Mills via Highway 410 and connecting buses westward to Georgetown and Guelph. It also serves daily Greyhound buses heading north to Owen Sound from Toronto.
The terminal is also directly connected to the Brampton GO Station, via a pedestrian tunnel which passes under the tracks from the station to the bus terminal. This connection allows users of the GO Station to transfer to and from local buses. As well, in 1999, GO Transit instituted a connecting bus from the GO Train to Orangeville, a growing bedroom community north of Brampton. Both the Orangeville and Train- Buses depart from the bus terminal.
GO Transit is also not the only train operator that uses the station. VIA runs two trains in each direction, stopping at the Brampton Station. One of the two trains continues westward past London to Sarnia and Chicago, using Amtrak Superliner equipment.
The Transit terminal and the train station have many facilities. The terminal has a waiting area, a concession stand, public washrooms and a lounge and a washroom for the bus drivers. The train station has an independently owned coffee shop, a dry cleaner and separate ticket booths for VIA and GO Transit. The interior of the station has been nicely renovated as well.
The first Brampton station was built in 1865 by the Grand Trunk Railway, a simple brick design. It was replaced in 1907 by a much more elaborate one-and-a-half story design, with a graceful Chateau-style roof. This station is still in use.
Brampton Transit was established in 1976 as the result of municipal amalgamations in 1974, joining the Town of Brampton with much of Chingcousy Township, Toronto Gore Township and part of the Town of Mississauga. The new bus system inherited the services provided by the Town of Brampton's bus system, operated by Travelways, and the former Chingcousy Township's dial-a-bus system. Fixed routes were established in Bramalea, major reroutings of the Town's systems were made and a new downtown terminal was built. The first terminal was between Main and George Streets, north of Wellington Street. A retail unit in a neighbouring retail/apartment building was used for ticket sales and as a waiting room, operated by GO Transit.
The downtown terminal was cleared in 1989 for construction of the new City Hall, and all buses were forced to terminate on George Street. During the same year, council approved construction of a new terminal to be built at Main and Nelson Streets. An agreement was made with a developer, and a combination bus terminal/office building wegan construction on March 2, 1989. A tunnel between the train station and the corner of George and Railroad Streets was begun that year, connecting the two facilities.
Today the bus terminal is very busy, serving Brampton Transit, GO Transit and Greyhound buses. Brampton operates five routes out of the terminal, plus two GO Train feeder routes. GO Transit occupies 4 bus bays as it also runs very frequently from the terminal. The facility is especially busy when the GO trains arrive during the afternoon rush period.
The Downtown Transit Centre is a very important piece of transportation infrastructure of importance not only to Bramptonians but to passengers throughout the region. It functions extremely well because it is in a prime location, taking advantage of the existing GO Station and a downtown locale.
The terminal's importance will only increase as GO Transit continues to experience high patronage of its rail and bus routes out of Brampton, and as Brampton Transit's ridership continues to grow. If all day rail service is provided to Brampton, either as a result of a new Airport-Union Station rail link or otherwise, the number of buses suing the terminal will only continue to increase. Until recently, the bus terminal had more than enough space to fit the buses serving it. Now, there are not enough bus bays for the rush hour crowds. The transit facility here has truly been a success.