Compiled from the archives of the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association.
Start here and just scroll down through the history of Brandon’s Public Transit service.
Brandon's Public Transit History
As Brandon's population boomed, and after much debate over private versus public ownership, the City of Brandon approved the building of a municipally owned and operated streetcar system. The service began operations on June 2, 1913.
The City of Brandon's population grew very little after World War I. The profitability and large debt obligations related to the streetcar system left the City struggling finanically.
The street railway operations were temporarily suspended between August and October. H.J. Varcoe temporarily operated a stop-gap jitney service for two weeks starting on August 25, 1931.
Mounting debt and financial difficulites led the City Council to close the Brandon Municipal Railway permanently. The last streetcar operated on April 30, 1932, after which the City immediatley began tearing up the tracks.
Later that year MacArthur Transportation Company Limited was incorporated and recieved a franchise from the City to operate buses replacing the streetcars.
MacArthur Transportation Company Limited changed its named to Brandon Transit Limited, a privately held corporation that continued to operate the city bus service.
Brandon Transit became a public entity on September 1, 1957 when the City of Brandon took over operation of the privately held bus service.
The Province of Manitoba announced on June 9, 1978 that it would provide 50% of the operating costs toward the start of a new parallel public transit service for persons with physical mobility challenges.
Gerry Mercier, Minister of Urban Affairs for the province also announced that a grant covering 50% of the capital cost of acquring a specially equipped bus for the new "Handi-Transit" service.
The summer months meant low ridership due school and university breaks. The City Council explored the possibility of suspending bus service from June to September. However, strong public opposition to this proposal resulted in the idea being abandoned and summer bus service continued.
Brandon Transit introduced a new route network based on a hub and spoke model with a central transfer point located in the downtown. All buses would meet downtown on a timed-transfer scheduled every 30 minutes.
As part of the Province of Manitoba's Bio-Diesel Working Group, Brandon Transit together with Celtic Power and Machining Limited tested a transit bus in service that was fuelled by 100% recycled cooking oil. It was affectionally refered to as the "french fry" bus.
Brandon Transit became the first transit system in the Province of Manitoba to become 100% fully accessible, accomodating persons with mobility restricitions and using mobility aid devices to ride on the fixed-route regular transit service.
On October 15, 2010, and as part of the fleet replacement strategy, officials from the City of Brandon, Province of Manitoba, and New Flyer Industries, along with local residents and guests unveiled the new eleven low-floor buses. All of these new buses included front mounted bike racks to accomodate riders who wished to bike and ride.
Brandon Transit undertook a major review of its entire route network and system. This study resulted in a number of new inititaves, including:
- A revamped bus route network.
- A series of accessible bus stop improvements, funded by the federal, provincial and
city governments. Twenty-seven bus stops were upgraded throughout the city.
- Upgrades to the downtown terminal on 8th Street, and
- The installation of 32 new bus shelters across the City.
Brandon began a pilot project to test Transit On-Demand. This new pilot project service worked along with the existing fixed-route service. The On-Demand service operated from 6 PM to midnight Monday to Saturday, with the fixed-route system operating from 6 AM to 6 PM Monday to Saturday and 9 AM to 7 PM on Sundays.
The results of the Transit On-Demand pilot project did not achieve the desired outcomes and also based on public feedback, the residents of Brandon indicated they prefered the fixed-route service. The Transit On-Demand pilot project ended service on September 3, 2022.
A review of all routes and service is currently underway. A new Transit Master Plan is being prepared.
MANITOBA TRANSIT HERITAGE ASSOCIATION