THUNDER BAY – With federal funding approval of $10.4 million in hand, Thunder Bay Transit now has $25.5 million in the bank to cover the costs of 13 infrastructure projects.
The money, which includes $8.5 million from the province and $6.6 million from the City of Thunder Bay, will be used for a variety of purposes, including the purchase of four conventional buses, 14 specialized paratransit buses, 40 new bus shelters, the creation of 23 crossovers and an electronic fare management system that will make payment easier through reloadable smart cards.
A transit hub in Westfort has also been earmarked with the funding, which was first announced last year by Ontario Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott, pending approval of Ottawa’s share. Finally, upgrades will be made to four other transit hubs.
“There are going to be significant enhancement to transit across the city of Thunder Bay,” said Mayor Bill Mauro on Thursday at a news conference held inside the spacious Thunder Bay Transit garage.
“The impact to the taxpayer of Thunder Bay will be significantly mitigated by the contributions of the federal and provincial governments, in addition to what the city is adding.”
More importantly, riders are going to notice the difference from the 13 projects, which he said will improve the quality, safety and convenience of the city’s transit system.
“I think city transit users will continue to see a very high-quality level of service in terms of the infrastructure ... increased hubs, heating in those huts, so that people who are waiting for service in inclement weather will have a warmer place to stay than they currently do,” Mauro said.
The federal government’s $10.4-million share is being provided through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream, up to 40 per cent of the cost for new projects and 50 per cent for rehabilitation projects. The province is supplying a third of the costs for all 13 projects, with the city footing the remainder of the money.
The transit hub improvements tally the largest share of the $25.5 million, at $8.19 million, just shy of a third of the total cost. The purchase of the four conventional buses and 12 of the paratransit buses to replace Transit’s soon-to-retire fleet, will cost slightly more than $4.9 million.
MP Patty Hajdu (Lib, Thunder Bay-Superior North) said transit use is part of the country’s new normal, and it’s important to ensure it can be done safely and conveniently.
Modernizing transit services is also important, she added.
“These projects will improve safety and accessibility for riders,” Hajdu said.
Scott, who attended the news conference virtually, said upon completion of the projects, transit users will be able to get where they need to go more reliably.
“We are connecting people to places and jobs where they work, medical appointments, classes at school and back home to their families, all on time,” Scott said.
Funding was allocated based on ridership and projects were recommended to the federal program based on consultation with the city to prioritize what was most needed.