Bringing buses and trains in the north up to speed
NORTH BAY -- The Ford government says it’s fully committed to Ontario Northland’s future.
"Buses and trains in the north should be operated in the same fashion as the buses and trains in the south," said Progressive Conservative (PC) Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.
Fedeli, along with Ontario Northland President and Chief Executive Officer Corina Moore and UNIFOR Local 103 President Andy Mitchell, announced on Monday the government will look into the viability of moving Ontario Northland from the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development, and Mines over to the umbrella of the Ministry of Transportation.
"I want to see it happen as quickly as possible, but it is a little bit of work to move a huge organization from one ministry to another," Fedeli told reporters at a news conference in North Bay on Monday.
What does this move mean for the transportation sector?
The province says the move could provide more oversight with a stronger mandate to create opportunities and improve services.
Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) is currently working on a business case in regards to reviving passenger rail service from Toronto to Cochrane. The business case is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.
"It includes all of the necessary items for decision making: schedule, and equipment, and service level, and all of those things. I’m really excited to be a part of this, as this is something we’ve been advocating for quite some time," said Moore.
"As per Vic’s words we’re open for business and so is Northeastern Ontario and Ontario Northland can play an important role in that," said Mitchell.
Back in 2012, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals scrapped the ONR’s passenger rail service; a move Fedeli says "gutted" the entire northeastern rail system.
"When the Liberals cancelled passenger rail, they really gutted the system right from Union Station to the stations all the way up the line. There were tracks removed as well," said Fedeli.
The Ontario PC Party also announced it plans to look at opportunities to enhance intercommunity bus services provided by Ontario Northland, so unserved northern communities are connected.