Sault St. Marie city council is considering a proposal for the city to give free bus rides to older citizens who lose their driver’s licence.

The Seniors Health Advisory Committee wants seniors over 80 who fail their driving test to get a free transit pass. 

Committee chair Evelyn Theriault said free bus rides might even convince seniors who can still drive to take the bus instead.

"The fear of losing their licence is big,” she said.

“But they themselves like to say 'OK fine, I'll give up the licence for my safety and anyone else's safety, but I don't want to be dependent on anybody else for the rest of my life."

Sault Ste. Marie Transit isn't sure how much this idea would cost the city. Last year, Sault transit sold 5,000 monthly passes, at $50 each, to riders over the age of 60.

Some seniors find bus service inconvenient

Over in Sudbury, the chair of Greater Sudbury's seniors advisory panel, said she likes the idea of providing bus rides to seniors who lose their licence.

But a survey conducted by Anadel Hastie’s group showed that a vast majority of Sudburians over 55 still drive their own car — results that surprised her.

"Seniors are healthier and more active longer than they ever were,” she said.

“So it seems to make sense that seniors are driving their own cars longer."

That same survey showed Sudbury seniors who don't take the bus either don't need it or find the service inconvenient.

But in the Sault, Theriault said providing bus service may be a worthwhile option for seniors who fail the test drivers have to take after they turn 80.

"Some of them [have told me] 'Now, we're complete shut-ins, once we can't get out to get our groceries, or [go to] hospital appointments. And socializing is out of the picture."