Stop paying fees to southern Ontario's busing company, ONTC drivers' union says
Province should let Ontario Northland use the southern Ontario terminals for free, union chair says
The union representing Ontario Northland bus drivers says the company is spending too much money on fees it's paying to southern Ontario's public transportation system.
Northern Ontario's public bus company makes seven trips to southern Ontario a day. To drop people off, Ontario Northland pays southern Ontario terminals about $500,000 in fees a year, the union said.
That money could go towards adding routes in the north, says Tony Wentzell who represents Ontario Northland bus drivers for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union.
"We're paying money to use another government terminal and, meanwhile, we have to cut our own terminals because, in the north, we're being asked to be sustainable," he said.
"These are sister companies. They're both agencies of the government of Ontario. This is exactly why we called years ago that there be a strategic alliance of these two," he said.
GoTransit received more than $160 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year from the Ministry of Transportation.
However Ontario Northland — which is run by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines — has been told it has to be self-sustaining.
Wentzell said the province should let Ontario Northland use the southern Ontario terminals for free.
"We have to close down our terminals, plus pay to use these other government terminals in the south," he continued.
"All we're looking for is a bit of a break here to try and keep some service in the north which, with the recent greyhound cuts, will be pretty close to non-existent pretty soon."
"I don't mind that there's a charge, so that the Go system can see where it's getting its money from. But there has to be a charge back to ONTC," John Vanthof said.
"If you're running a system that no one else can provide without subsidy, to have to pay the government and not receive anything back, that doesn't make sense."
GoTransit is heavily subsidized, while Ontario Northland is not, he said.