'Park and ride' in the works for Sudbury commuters
Sudbury Transit working on ways to get more people parking their cars and taking the bus
Sudbury Transit is trying to plan for the future of public transportation in the city — and that means finding ways to get people to give up their cars, without breaking the city’s budget.
There is no shortage of big ideas for Sudbury transit around the city’s council table. There's talk of dedicated bus lanes and commuter trains — ideas that are not even on the drawing board yet.
But a park-and-ride system is. Transit director Roger Sauve said the idea would see commuters from the outlying areas park their cars at a station and ride into town on an express bus.
"I would see that in the near future," Sauve said. "We'll likely pick an area and try it and see if we can change the culture."
Sauve said transit is also looking at double decker buses, as well as increasing security on the buses and at the downtown terminal.
'Improve' customer service
Most of those ideas come with a big price tag at time when all governments are closing their wallets.
But Lily Noble, one of the founders of the Friends of Sudbury Transit, said there are other cheap ways to get people to park their cars.
"I think minor things like [installing] a bus shelter or just [clearing up] confusion about when is that bus coming [or] where does the bus go [would] improve customer service [and] get more people into buses," she said.
Noble said, in the long run, more people riding transit should also free up some of the tax dollars currently spent on city streets.
While focusing on the basics — like improving customer service — is what some are doing, city councillor Dave Kilgour said he doesn't think it's too early to talk about commuter trains in Sudbury.
"The more and more business we put in downtown Sudbury and the more congestion we get on our highways, will make those things more viable than they are now," Kilgour said.
He pointed to the fact Sudbury already has a lot of underused track, which could help defray the cost of putting down rails.