It seems the Liberals aren’t going to supplement the bus service to cater to the anticipated greater ridership from Northern Ontario. This, from a release from the General Chairperson’s Association spokesperson Brian Kelly. Kelly claims Minister Rick Bartolucci has outright said the current system will be sufficient. This runs counter to a statement from the minister on March 23rd. Kelly says its clear the government has no plans to fill the gap caused by the cancellation of the Northlander. On top of that, none of the buses will stop at Union Station; instead it will drop off passengers to the Dundas/Bay bus terminus, two kilometres away. Kelly points out Bartolucci’s disdain for Northerners is evident.
The GCA has legitimate concerns that the current ONTC Bus fleet will not be able to handle the increase in ridership and the aging fleet. This situation was made worse by the McGuinty government’s decision to cancel the purchase of three new Canadian built motor coaches earlier this year. The combination of aging fleet and refusal to add new motor coaches to the fleet will be disastrous for Northerners and will certainly mean that passengers will have to seek other means of travel and many more will just decide not to travel. The government seems not to care when passengers getting off the Polar Bear Express in Cochrane, may not be able to get to a southern destination because there is not enough buses to make the 14-hour journey from Cochrane to Toronto. Additionally the change in destination terminals means passengers who were intent on making a train connection at Union Station will now have to find their own way there with luggage and children in tow.
Kelly says compare that to the Premier McGuinty’s announcement of Monday of his government’s plan to build a 25km rail line between Union Station to Pearson Airport. This rail line will provide passengers with the means to access connecting flights or train departures. Do you see any difference in the Liberals commitment to the travelling public between North and South?