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International students drive transit ridership increase in Sudbury

Recent statistics show that more people in Greater Sudbury than ever are using the GOVA transit system to get where they need to go.

GOVA says ridership exceeded pre-pandemic levels in September, with 540,000 rides recorded. In October, the numbers were slightly less, at 520,000, but were still up overall.

Transit director Brendan Adair said rides are on track to reach five million by the end of this year, up from 3.4 million in 2022.

Adair said the pandemic saw transit ridership decrease significantly.

"We had our ridership reduced 50 per cent over the course of a couple years, so we are happy to see that resumption post-pandemic," he said.

Adair attributes the increase to an influx of people returning to in-person work and classes, as well as more international students studying in the region.

"There's an increase in international students. Likewise, we're seeing a shift in people returning to work or returning to in-person classes post-pandemic, and there's a level of comfort with the use of transit," he said.

"People feel safe on the buses. It’s a clean, safe environment."

Cambrian College spokesperson Dan Lessard said enrolment is up in general since last year, including a big increase in international students.

Lessard said there are 5,800 full-time and part-time students at Cambrian. Of that number, 2,700 are international students, up from 900 at the same time last year. He said a vast majority of international students use public transit.

"The bus route that has traditionally served Cambrian College over the years had become busier by the influx of international students," Lessard said.

"Most of whom don’t have personal vehicles so they're relying on public transportation to get from the college to where they live and from where they live to the college."

Adair said plans for the future of transit include upgrades in technology and communications.

"We're completing a hub feasibility study that considers where our hubs are and things related to technology, related to how we speak to our customers during stops or improving our fare boxes to allow for improved payment options," he said.

With the city's budget meeting around the corner, Adair said transit aims to add 11,000 service hours to meet the needs of increased ridership. Top Stories

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