ONTC adds new bus routes along Hwy 17, starting this week

Ontario Northland will begin offering bus service along highway 17 for the first time in the Crown corporation's history.

For the first time ever, ONTC buses will begin moving passengers from Sudbury to Ottawa

Starting this Thursday, ONTC buses will make three trips a week to Ottawa — with stops all along the way. (ONTC)

Ontario Northland will begin offering bus service along highway 17 for the first time in the Crown corporation's history.

The new route — created after Greyhound cut its service along the Highway 17 corridor by half — will travel between Sudbury and Ottawa three times a week.

There are about a dozen stops along the route.

Ontario Northland president Corina Moore told CBC News the company hopes to take advantage of new demand.

"We heard a lot of feedback from our northern passengers that they wanted a really convenient way to connect east-west," she said.

"With the changes that Greyhound made in September, there was a huge wait time — up to 12 hours in some cases — coming through North Bay. So … we needed to move forward on this really quickly."

Moore said the new route has been "tailored around the weekend traveller, and certainly students and people that are looking to go to medical appointments."

Will ridership increase?

Tony Wentzell, the chair of the union that represents Ontario Northland bus drivers, said many travellers were frustrated that Ontario Northland only ran north to south.
Tony Wentzell, the chair of Ontario Northland's drivers union, believes this new route will make the company money. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Currently, travellers are often required to transfer between Ontario Northland and Greyhound buses to get to their destination. In cases like Sudbury, that means switching between terminals located in different areas of the city.

"It's very difficult in Sudbury now because there are two different terminals," Wentzell said.

"You'd go to one terminal, you'd have to go over to the other terminal to catch our bus."

Wentzell said he hopes the new connections will increase overall ridership with Ontario Northland.

"I've been here for about 25 years at ON and it's been a steady decline in service," he continued.

"When I started here, there was about 100 drivers and about 50 buses, and we've pretty much cut that in half."

To now see an expansion, "it's like a dream come true. For years we've been told you couldn't travel from New Liskeard to Parry Sound because that east-west link was missing."

After years of cutting back routes, Ontario Northland is adding a route from Sudbury to Ottawa with stops along the way. Tony Wentzell is the chairperson of the union representing the bus drivers. He joined us to talk about the new route.

Ontario Northland stated in a news release the new route will be offered as a pilot program, and passenger volumes will be re-assessed after six months.

They have partnered with ticketing agencies in Sturgeon Falls, Mattawa, Pembroke, Petawawa, Renfrew and Ottawa and flag stops have been identified in Warren, Verner, Deep River, Chalk River, Cobden, Arnprior, Kanata and Ottawa Bayshore Mall.

The weekly schedule consists of:

  • Thursday, Friday, and Sunday: Depart Sudbury at 2:05 p.m. arrive in Ottawa at 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Saturday, Monday: Depart Ottawa at 7 a.m. arrive in Sudbury at 1:50 p.m.


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