A city-commissioned transit optimization study has determined that the controversial 2016 decision to severely slash Sunday bus schedules can be reversed within the Sault Transit's current 80,000 annual hours of service with no budget increase.
A proposed service plan, revealed today at an open house at Northern Community Centre on Goulais Ave., restores Sunday evening service until midnight.
Under the 2016 change, the last Sunday buses have been leaving the terminal at 6:15 p.m.
Sunday service will start at 7 a.m. under the proposed new schedules.
From June to August, however, weekday buses would run only once an hour during off-peak hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. until midnight.
The new plan offers new service to St. Mary's College and recommends reinstating the Great Northern route.
There would be fewer transfers at the downtown bus terminal with a new transfer hub near Sault College served by a heated shelter.
McNabb bus will no longer go downtown.
Steelton and Second Line routes will be merged into one.
There will be more frequent service to Sault Area Hospital under the proposed service plan.
The proposals also include a new smart-card payment system, automatic passenger counters, a mobile app allowing riders to pay fares and get updates on estimated bus arrival times.
The study recommends putting bike racks on buses and improved bus stop areas with better information for passengers.
Fourteen bus stops would be removed with many more added.
Under the new recommendations, Sault Transit would still have eight bus routes:
- Route 1 Great Northern will provide enhanced service between downtown and Sault Area Hospital
- Route 2 Steelton-Second Line combines the Steelton and Second Line routes, offering two-way service to the steel plant. This east-west route will connect with Route 5 McNabb
- Route 3 Korah Road replaces the current Cedar Heights route, linking downtown to the new Sault College hub
- Route 4 North Street will offer revised routing, linking North St. with Sault College and downtown, also connecting to Sault Area Hospital at Sault College
- Route 5 McNabb will no longer go downtown. It will now provide an east-west connector to Route 2 Steelton-Second Line and to the new Route 1 Great Northern at Sault College
- Route 6 Eastside will offer added service to South Market Rd on both sides of Trunk Rd. It can also connect with the new Route 5 McNabb to go to Sault College
- Route 7 Riverside faces only minor changes
- Route 8 Sault College-Algoma University would remain unchanged
- a new Northern Community bus will provide hourly service Monday through Saturday for 10 hours a day. It will connect the Lake St. area with Sault College, St. Mary's College, Sault Area Hospital and Fourth Line West
Further information sessions will take place tonight at the Civic Centre's Russ Ramsay Boardroom at 99 Foster Dr. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and tomorrow at the John Rhodes Community Centre, 260 Elizabeth St. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
A study team will review suggestions made at the three open houses and a final report will be submitted to the city next month.