New intercity bus service for north must be 'attractive, affordable and accessible' say Liberals

The Ministry of Transportation is considering adding a bus passenger service linking communities in the province and will be holding public consultation sessions to gather input and hear concerns.

Ont. Liberals holding public input sessions to get feedback on proposed bus system linking Ontario communities

Ontario's Ministry of Transportation will be holding a series of public consultations on improving inter-city bus travel. (ONTC)

The Ministry of Transportation is considering adding a bus passenger service linking communities in the province and will be holding public consultation sessions to hear concerns.

Several cities from the northeast are on that list, including Sudbury.

Northern Development and Mines Minister and Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay, Michael Gravelle, said the sessions will gather ideas from the public on modernizing and improving bus passenger travel in the province.

"The key thing is it needs to remain attractive, it needs to remain affordable and accessible to people who have no other options in particular communities certainly across the north," Gravelle said, "it's very close to my heart."

But Vic Fedeli, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Nipissing, said those conversations might be awkward for the MTO, considering the same ministry stripped the north of its passenger train service in 2012.
MPP Vic Fedeli says any consultations with the public are just for show, as the Ministry of Transportation has routinely ignored the needs of northern Ontario communities.

"Coming around and talking to us about intercity transport is fine if you want to look like you're doing something," Fedeli said, "but what really was done to the North was the train was taken away."

"We just got the report from the UP Express, that's the brand new, beautifully appointed train that takes you from the airport in Mississauga to downtown Toronto," Fedeli said.

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"It's a quick 25-minute high speed train. They subsidized that $52 per ride for a total of $20-million. Yet we in the north had our Ontario Northlander train stripped from us."

The public input sessions will be an opportunity to remind the ministry that the north's needs are often ignored by government, Fedeli said.

New Democrat Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas has urged residents to speak up about their transportation challenges.

"I am sure that [the government] will get an earful," she said, "but they will also get basically the urgency of making good regular public transportation available to the people of the north."

Public consultation locations:

  • North Bay July 26 at Nipissing University
  • Sudbury July 28 at Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street
  • Sault Ste Marie Aug 3 at John Rhodes Community Centre
  • Timmins Aug 4 at Ramada Timmins

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With files from Angela Gemmill. Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges