GOVA bus at downtown Sudbury terminal. Feb. 10/20 (Alana Everson/CTV Northern Ontario)

On Thursday, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced Ontario is providing $375 million through the gas tax program to help 109 municipalities across the province operate and expand public transit.

The province said in a news release it will flow the funding as soon as possible in 2021.

"Our government is committed to helping municipalities sustain and improve public transit throughout the province," Mulroney said in the release.

"Supporting transit systems is more important than ever as municipalities across Ontario struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help ensure people have access to safe, reliable transportation to get to work or pick up essential items like a prescription."

Funding is determined by the number of litres of gasoline sold in the province during the previous year. Municipalities supporting public transit services in their community receive two cents per litre of provincial gas tax revenue collected.

Supports transit systems

The funding can be used to extend service hours, buy transit vehicles, add routes, improve accessibility or upgrade infrastructure.

In northern Ontario, the three largest recipients are Greater Sudbury ($2,862,852), Sault Ste Marie ($1,221,595) and North Bay ($912,567).

"Transit systems again thank this government for its unwavering support," Kelly Paleczny, chair of Ontario Public Transit Association, said in the release.

"Ontario has placed immense value on public transit to help frontline workers get to and from work each day throughout the pandemic. This funding is crucial to communities across the province in the fight against COVID-19 and will play an important role in Ontario's economic recovery."

Ontario is developing regional plans that will help build a better transportation system across the province. The province has released draft regional transportation plans for northern Ontario and southwestern Ontario, and planning is underway for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and eastern Ontario.

Northeastern Ontario breakdown:

- Blind River: $16,191

- Bracebridge ($155,993)

- Chapleau: $18,630

- Cochrane: $40,630

- Elliot Lake: $130,900

- Espanola: $45,360

- Greater Sudbury: $2,862,852

- Hearst ($46,221)

- Huntsville ($95,869)

- Kapuskasing: $75,560

- North Bay: $912,567

- Parry Sound: $58,123

- Sault Ste Marie: $1,221,595

- Temiskaming Shores (Cobalt): $140,745

- Timmins: $668,033

- Wawa ($25,891)