Seen as first step to multi-modal system with a future rail ‘spine’ (North Bay Nugget -January 25, 2018)

Two Ontario rail advocacy groups say the recent expansion of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) bus service is not only the first sign of hope for Northern public transportation users in many years, but it also paves the way to better rail service in the future.

“Any improvement of our system is welcome, whether that it be rail, bus or any other mode that is applicable and affordable,” says All Aboard Northern Ontario founder Eric Boutilier.

“Northern Ontario has seen nothing but a decline in mobility since January 1990, when the federal government hacked off half of the VIA Rail Canada system. The damage done by those cuts was only made worse by the provincial government’s callous 2012 decision to end the ONTC’s Northlander rail service instead of modernizing it.”

Adding to this constant loss of public transport options have been reductions in privately-operated Greyhound bus service, Porter and Bearksin air services, and the regrettable demise of Caribou Coach Lines in northwestern Ontario.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to praise any of the players in Northern Ontario’s public transportation system,” said All Aboard Ontario president Robert Wightman. “What heartens us is that the announcement of new bus service for Sault Ste. Marie and White River, and an improved Ottawa-Sudbury service, clearly demonstrates the ONTC team has a vision.

“They’re not just giving us more of the empty words we’re used to receiving from so many transportation agencies and politicians. They’re actually taking real and justifiable action.”

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