Skip Navigation
Transit Master Plan - opens new window

Proposed Transit Route

Transit Master Plan

TMP - We Heard You 

The Transit Master Plan is a plan to dramatically improve the delivery of transit services in Thunder Bay. The Plan will guide service design and planning to better meet the travel needs of the community. It’s about getting you where you need to go faster, more conveniently, and more reliably.


What’s this plan about?
It’s a plan to expand transit service in Thunder Bay, by running buses more frequently on major roads, creating more direct routes, enhancing mobility service for those with accessible needs, and improving the overall reliability of the system. It will increase ridership and help meet the needs of our community.

What are the big changes?

  • More direct routes that match travel demand
  • More frequent service between major destinations
  • Simpler two-directional routes
  • Improved route transfer experience for passengers
  • Enhance equal distribution of services across the City
  • Implement realistic true-to-the-street scheduling
  • Enhance accessible travel opportunities for passengers 

 Where are the major transfer hubs?

  • Central Terminal (location to be determined)
  • Downtown North
  • Downtown South
  • Lakehead University
  • Confederation College

All the new routes connect with at least 3 of these hubs.

Will I still be able to catch the bus at my local stop?
The majority of Thunder Bay Transit stops will remain. Additional stops will be added to many of our routes to make them bi-directional (service in both directions).

How will this improve reliability?
Recognizing our aging population, higher ridership, and accessibility needs, schedules will be built on ‘true-to-the-street’ time to allow passengers sufficient time for boarding. There will also be a scheduled layover at the Central Terminal to allow time for transfers and create a buffer for buses that may be running behind schedule.

What will this cost?
The plan forecasts capital costs of up to $7M for the development of a new centrally located transfer/terminal facility. In addition, increases to annual operating costs will be incurred to improve transit’s service. An additional 40,000 service hours will accommodate future growth and result in increased ridership and increased revenue.

However, the cost of doing nothing is likely to be just as high or higher. Currently, City Buses cannot meet their schedules due to changes in travel patterns, ridership, and an unrealistic route structure. If the current model continues, community needs of a growing, aging population will not be met and riders will continue to endure long waits, indirect routes, and unnecessary route transfers. It is anticipated that ridership would stagnate, resulting in limited potential for revenue growth required to offset rising costs. These costs would likely exceed those in the Transit Master Plan. The alternative would therefore be service cuts.

How many more riders are expected on Thunder Bay Transit as a result?
Ridership is forecasted to increase from 3.6M riders today, to 5M riders within 5 years of implementing the new route network.

Has this been approved by Council?
In June 2012, Council approved the plan in principle, which included the forecasted capital and operating investments both short and long term. The implementation plan to build a new terminal and move forward with the new route network has not been approved by Council, but will be coming forward in a staff report in Fall 2012. The plan recommendations will be phased in over a five year period. Associated costs of the recommendations will be considered as part of the 2013 and future budget processes.

When will this happen?
Phase 1 of this plan, which includes addressing the evening’s on-time performance issues to make it more effective, took place in late Fall 2012. The proposed route network implementation is scheduled to occur after a central terminal location is acquired and construction is complete.


City Council had approved a transit study in 2010 in order to develop a plan to create a system to serve you better. In 2011, the City of Thunder Bay and study partner GENIVAR Inc. completed the analysis of both conventional (big bus) transit and door-to-door specialized transit services. The study objectives were to:

  • Review existing transit services, policies and guidelines and future development and travel patterns.
  • Identify service gaps, needs, and opportunities.
  • Develop short and long-term plans to respond to the challenges to be faced over the next 10 years. 

The study involved receiving input from the public and stakeholders as well as conducting a technical analysis. Public consultations included transit riders and non-riders through online and paper surveys, on-board origin-destination surveys, and public information sessions.

Public Presentation Material

Public Consultation Material


    Email us at or call us at 684-3744.