Fifty-three new transit buses are coming to Greater Sudbury as part of an almost $100-million investment from three levels of government.
The Government of Canada is investing more than $39.7 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $33.1 million to the projects, while the City of Greater Sudbury is contributing more than $26.4 million.
The funding was announced Aug. 6 at the Transit Fleet Services building on Lorne Street.
The bus fleet replacement program will see 53 new low-floor 40-foot buses purchased over eight years, effectively reducing maintenance costs while providing modern, safe and reliable transit. This project federal, provincial and municipal governments will each provide $13,767,600.
Another project will see the implementation of various technological improvements, including an electronic fare payment system and on-demand services for transit users in low ridership areas.
The third project will see the installation of new transportation management and communication technology, as well as the replacement of traffic signal controllers at all intersections.
The fourth project will see a detailed design and construction of three major mobility hubs located in the centre, downtown and the South End of the city, and will serve as the primary transfer points for a restructured transit system that will include rapid bus lines to support increased ridership and service needs.
The final project is the planning, design and construction of bus rapid transit along three corridors to reduce bus travel times, increase transit ridership and improve operational efficiency. The new corridors will include intersection improvements with dedicated turn lanes for buses, passenger waiting areas and shelters, fare vending machines, passenger information, signage and lighting.
Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger said public transit plays a vital role in the very fabric of any city, and it’s the obligation as leaders at any level to ensure residents have the ability, the opportunity and the very right to travel as quickly, easily and safely as possible to work, to school or to their appointments.
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, who is also parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford, was on hand representing the province.
“When you look at what’s being done, there’s a significant wow factor,” Smith said. “It’s a massive undertaking for the people of Greater Sudbury.
“You have to take your hat off to the city, to council, for being that forward thinking in recognizing that if it is accessible to someone with a mobility challenge, it is accessible to everyone, and designing the system that way so that every single person is able to go to the places they want to go.”
Michelle Ferrigan, director, Greater Sudbury Transit, said on-time performance for transit has significantly improved over the past few years, and ridership has been showing a steady increase to 4.6 million passenger trips last year.
“These investments we are making today will serve our community tomorrow,” she said. “Phase 2 and the long-term strategy over the next 10 years will build on the positive economic and performance returns from this transformation, which cannot be achieved with an aging fleet.”
Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre said many residents in Greater Sudbury rely on public transit to get to work, to school, and to access the services they need.
“The city has done a marvelous job of making for a better experience for transit users, and they are starting to see the fruits of that labour,” he said.
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré said not every municipality is getting funding, and it was the city’s plan they put in place that made this happen.