Sudbury has big plans for $99 million in transit funding

Sudbury has big plans for $99 million in government funding for its public transit system. The money was announced on Friday, and comes from all three levels of government. In fact, the City of Greater Sudbury had already been looking into making improvements to its transit system, so it was prepared when the federal and provincial governments came to the table.

Federal, provincial, municipal governments all contributing funds over 10 years

Among the transit projects on the horizon are switching to electric buses, adding smart card technology, renewing the current fleet and expanding the transit-cycling program. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

The City of Greater Sudbury already has some ideas on how to spend $99 million in funding earmarked for public transit.

The government investment was announced on Friday, and comes from all three levels of government.

The federal and provincial governments are providing a combined $72 million in long-term infrastructure investments in public transportation over 10 years. The federal government will provide the largest amount with 40 per cent of the funding, and the province will add 33 per cent.

The city will kick in the remaining 27 per cent, and will get to decide how the money will be spent says Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger.

Greater Sudbury had already been looking into making improvements to its transit system, and was prepared when the federal and provincial governments came to the table with the opportunity.

Electric buses, Smart card technology, upgraded fleets and expanded schedules... these are just a few of the projects that Sudbury's Transit system could see in the near future. 99 million dollars in total will be invested into public transit over a ten year period with funding coming from all three levels of government. Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger shared more details with the CBC's Angela Gemmill. 7:44

"These are recommendations that have come from a report where we went out to the public, we talked to the public, we talked to the transit drivers, we talked to experts," Bigger says.

He adds there are a number of projects on the horizon for Sudbury Transit, including switching to electric buses, adding smart card payment technology, renewing the current fleet of buses and improving the connection between cycling and transit.

Improved transit = improved environment

Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault says he's excited to see more growth of the transit system, as well as cycling, in the city. 

The current program allows cyclists to load their bicycles on bike racks located on front of the bus. Nine routes within the city offer the option. 

"We've got trails everywhere so if you can ride your bike through the trails and then you need to get downtown., you throw your bike on the front of the bus, and next thing you know, off you go," Thibeault says.

He adds that, as Minister of Energy, a number of the potential transit projects appeal to him for reducing the use of fossil fuels.

"The potential for electric buses is important because we do have to keep thinking about climate change and we do have to talk about pulling cars off the road."

Logical, affordable choice

Bigger says residents across the city will find city transit becoming a more logical and affordable choice.

"When it becomes the more logical choice from a financial perspective, with more effective routes, I do expect that we'll have significant increases in the amount of ridership within our community."

"It's part of affordable living in the community of Sudbury. It's part of the quality of life we have here," Bigger says.

He says having an improved public transit system will mean more people will want to use it to get around the city for school, work, appointments and other activities.

"When we do that we'll see, through ridership numbers that public transit has become a more compelling alternative."

About the Author

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 13 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca