Sudbury Handi-Transit over capacity: council debates next steps

Demand is going up for Sudbury's Handi-Transit service, but the service is at capacity with more calls for a lift than fleet and drivers available.

There's currently more demand for service than fleet or drivers

Right now in Greater Sudbury, only passengers with physical disabilities can ride Handi-Transit — but, people with cognitive disabilities want to use it, too. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)
Demand for Sudbury's Handi-Transit service is greater than it can handle. It's meant for people with physical disabilities but people with cognitive disabilities want to use it too. We have some of the discussion around the matter by city council. 5:46

Demand is going up for Sudbury's Handi-Transit service, but the service is at capacity with more calls for a lift than fleet and drivers available.

The director of transit services for Sudbury said it's time to review the system and decide who is most in need.

"The more we can eliminate barriers, the more people we can move," Roger Sauvé said at a Tuesday night city council meeting.

"We want to move away from the traditional approach and view of Handi-Transit, which is you're either on one piece of equipment or the other. We want to look at a person's needs and ability to travel. Maybe it comes down to travel training."

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Mayor Brian Bigger said moving people from their homes to regular public transit could be a solution.

"They'll have a lot more freedom and flexibility once they can get to the conventional bus system," he said.

"What we need to do is make sure our system is best suited to provide those services to all of the people who would need or would want to use our Handi-Transit service."

Handi-Transit is also grappling with the issue of which disabilities it recognizes. Currently, only passengers with physical disabilities are eligible for the service, however the city is seeking further direction from the province on that matter.

People with cognitive disabilities also want access to the service.

Ward 5 councillor Robert Kirwan said the city needs to sort that out.

"I'm feeling a little anxious right now because we have some decisions to make on this and we're already over capacity."

Handi-Transit ridership continues to grow by about 65 users every month — and has spiked by about 95,000 users since Sudbury amalgamated in 2001. In 2014, about 135,000 people used the service.

Full report on Handi-Transit:


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