With the biggest reform of the transit system in Greater Sudbury's history coming next month, officials released some details Tuesday about what the changes will look like.
Addressing the finance committee, transit director Michelle Ferrigan outlined the training and media plans in place to make the transition as easy as possible, which include 90 days of training on the new system for some key staff.
“They will be experts,” Ferrigan said. “Communication is key to success.”
She also unveiled GOVA, “a distinctive name and visual symbol” derived from the English and French words for 'go.'
“It's modern, simple, fresh and fun graphic elements represent some of the most impactful system improvements that riders can expect from the Transit Action Plan: Better Routes. Better Schedules. Better Service,” the city said in a news release.
Some of the big changes include:
- Routes with the highest ridership have been developed to offer service every 15 to 30 minutes along major traffic corridors. An example of a high frequency route is the new No. 1 Main Line / Circuit Central that will travel directly from the South End Walmart to New Sudbury Centre with no transfers necessary.
- Multiple stops and return trips are encouraged with a new 90-minute transfer policy that allows riders to run an errand then reboard a bus to continue travelling on any route.
- The prices of monthly passes for adults and students have been reduced and discounts for seniors and persons with a disability have been maintained.
- On-demand TransCab service, connecting residents between their homes and transit buses, will be renamed GOVA Zone to represent the reach of public transit to designated areas of the city beyond traditional bus routes.
- And Handi-Transit, offering specialized service to persons with disabilities, will be renamed GOVA Plus to represent a safe and dignified travel option for those who are unable to use the regular transit system for either part of or their entire trip.
New updated rider guides and maps will provide the information needed to navigate the enhanced transit system, Ferrigan said.
“Right now it's a little difficult to find your way,” she said.
During the Aug. 26 launch of the new system, “transit ambassadors” will ride buses and will be stationed at major transfer points to answer questions and help riders find their way.
Despite all the planning, Ferrigan said they expect there will be issues, and support staff will be on hand to help drivers and the public address them.
“Just like a wedding, things will happen,” she said.
Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini said many people in his ward are concerned the new system will create new problems.
“Can there be changes made after Aug. 26?” Vagnini asked.
“There are a lot of moving parts when you're changes a transit system to this extent,” Ferrigan said, adding they expect to have unforeseen issues crop up and will deal with them as they arise.
“Nothing is written in stone,” she said. “We anticipate a few weeks of having to massage the system a little bit.”