Come on and take a free ride: Sudbury marks 50 years of retrobus transit, no fares today Pipa News

Come on and take a free ride: Sudbury marks 50 years of retrobus transit, no fares today

A milestone birthday in Sudbury looks more orange than golden today.

Celebrating 50 years of transit services, a retro orange bus rides the streets of the city, and anyone using public transportation doesn’t have to worry about fares. The service is free today.

The city wanted to reduce barriers for first-time users, says Brendan Adair, director of Transit Services.

Young man standing in front of a transit bus
Anthony Cotton stands in front of a transit bus in downtown Sudbury. On Tuesday, after a job interview, he took transit for the first time. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

On Tuesday, Anthony Cotton took transit for the first time. He had a job interview downtown.

“My brother took the car so I have no choice but to take the bus so I might as well take advantage of my Laurentian [bus] pass that is included in my tuition fees,” he said.

The city of Greater Sudbury wants to see new riders like Cotton today.

“We know that transit can be confusing for those who don’t use it,” Adair said, adding that financial barriers can also limit its use.

“For example, someone like me, I rarely carry cash, so we don’t want that to be a barrier for you to try our service.”

They encourage everyone to use the GOVA transit system for free as a way for new riders to try out the service.

“We want to understand what mode of transportation they gave up for today and how far they traveled,” says Adair.

“If someone has given up a car and traveled from Lively, for example, I can illustrate this as a successful business and a positive impact on the environment, in this case.”

Additional transit staff will be at the terminal today to inform passengers about their transit experience.

Adair understands that there is still concern about the security of the terminal in the city center, which is causing some people to stay away.

He said they have a lot of support from contract security at the terminal. There is also an ongoing service level for municipal law enforcement officers who proactively drive buses and respond to any problems on buses or at the terminal.

Terminal safety is something rider Larry Brown wants to see improved.

“A lot of people are afraid to come here because of the drug addicts and they are afraid that they will be robbed, which is what happened to me,” he said.

Brown says he appreciates the transit service being convenient and accessible.

Elderly man sitting on bench at bus station with coffee, drink and snack on his left.
Dennis Farmer says he uses GOVA Transit every day to travel from his home in a remote community north of the city. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Dennis Farmer takes GOVA transit every day from a remote community in the northern part of the city.

“It’s better than the old service. The old service would only go to the city limits and then you’d have to walk the rest.”

For regular rider Shannon Fowler, transportation is easy for her to get around.

“You get a bus pass and you can go anywhere in the city,” she said.

Recent statistics show that more riders are using GOVA transit.

“August was the month with the highest number of riders since before the pandemic,” said Adair, with more than 320,000 riders last month.

“For September I can say we already have more than 300,000 so with the resumption of classes, whether that be post-secondary, secondary or even those who use the service to go to primary school,” he added.

Adair said the city is conducting a feasibility study to see what it takes to switch the transit service from a diesel service to an electrification service.

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