Category Archives for "Intercity Rail and Bus"

Mar 14

Does VIA Rail’s Survival Depend on an new Route through Ontario and Quebec?

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus

In an excellent series of articles, Global News has explored the challenges facing VIA Rail. The article linked below discusses primarily the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, and VIA’s High Frequency Rail proposal. It features a lengthy interview with Terry Johnson, president of Transport Action Canada and vice president of Transport Action Ontario.

Well worth the read!

Here is the link: http://globalnews.ca/news/6635203/via-rail-survival-hfr/

Jan 31

Input to Ontario 2020 Budget Consultations

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario , Urban Transit

The Ontario government is asking for public input into Budget 2020. Transport Action Ontario has made the following submission, focussing on the public transportation sector.

Northern Ontario

  • Provide funding to implement the Ontario Northland and Metrolinx study on passenger train and bus renewal in Northern Ontario
  • Work with the federal government to save the Huron Central Railway, ideally under Ontario Northland management

Southwestern Ontario

  • Provide funding to initiate firm steps to implement some of the Action in the recently released draft transportation master plan.  Particularly important are concrete steps on Actions 6 to 8, which deal with improving passenger rail on existing rail corridors owned by freight rail companies.  Work needs to be initiated with the freight rail companies and with VIA Rail.

Urban Transit

  • Increase the gas tax share directed to urban transit.  This had been promised by the Ford government during the election campaign, but was not kept.
  • Initiate a study to permit Ontario municipalities to use new revenue tools, such as a piece of the provincial sales tax, a land-transfer tax, or authority for road tolls, to fund critical infrastructure such as public transit or roads.
  • Develop a program to subsidize transit fare integration in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas in order to reduce two-fare walls between agencies like TTC-GO and TTC-York Region Transit.

General

  • Include environmental and climate change considerations when reviewing transportation modal options.  Any provincial transportation proposals are then more likely to meet with broader public approval.
  • Expand the highly-successful Community Transportation Grant Program and improve regional coordination/planning/oversight and shared service models.  See our letter to Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation at the time) of February 4, 2019 and re-sent to Minister Mulroney in July.
  • Expand the HOT lane program on Ontario expressways.

Photo: Daniel Vorndran

Jan 17

Draft Transportation Plan for Southwestern Ontario released by MTO

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Southwestern Ontario

On January 17, 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation released the report Connecting the Southwest: A draft transportation plan for southwestern Ontario. Transport Action Ontario is pleased that the plan has been released, as promised in the 2019 Provincial Budget.

The Province has also launched an online survey to gather feedback on the document.

Most of the plan’s 43 Actions deal with expansion or operations of highways and roads. As an organization focusing on rail, bus and transit public transportation, we will not comment further on those Actions.

We are encouraged to see the province taking the public transportation concerns of communities large and small across the region seriously, to reverse the decline of rural and regional mobility. Some of the Actions are province-wide programs or plans already underway. We support these programs such as the Community Transportation Grant Program, the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, Dedicated Gas Tax Funding for Public Transportation and Transit-Oriented Development of stations.

We are pleased that the province will be actively engaging with mayors in a Task Force to build upon the foundations that have been created by the Community Transportation Grants, and focusing on a regional bus network with a rail spine, as recommended in our policy research and reports.

The province is working to identify opportunities for incremental improvements to the existing rail corridors, which could swiftly deliver the more frequent and reliable passenger services that the region needs. It is imperative that these passenger rail improvements are for the benefit of the whole region, including additional services to Sarnia and Windsor.

We hope to see the federal government represented on the new Task Force and working alongside the province as an active partner in bringing about significant improvements that will make the best use of the increased capabilities of the new VIA Rail train fleet that will be arriving in 2021.

We’re encouraged by a focus on passenger convenience, and connectivity between rail and bus services. This is something people in this region have brought up frequently at our public meetings. It is also fundamental to maximizing the benefits to quality of life and minimizing the burden on the public purse.

Bus drivers and train crews are the backbone of a passenger friendly transportation network. They need fair wages and good working conditions to help them deliver outstanding levels of customer service, and that’s an issue we will be watching.

We look forward to seeing concrete steps to fulfill these Actions, including line items in upcoming Provincial Budgets. Inevitably, investment decisions will have to be made between highway, road and public transportation projects. It’s imperative that all investment decisions be evidence-based and incorporate broad-spectrum stakeholder consultation. All plans need to include a contribution to citizens’ wellness and full consideration of their health effects. Economic growth facilitation should not be based on monetary considerations alone but its positive effects on society in general.

Photo: Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney announcing Connecting the Southwest accompanied by Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London; London Mayor Ed Holder; Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford; Consumer Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce; and Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia-Lambton

Jan 01

Rural Transit Renaissance for Southwestern Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Southwestern Ontario

After several years of patient lobbying by rural citizens, transit activists, and local councils, 2020 is set to be a banner year for rural transit in Southwestern Ontario. Many of the projects funded through the Community Transportation Grants will come to fruition, and new bus services are expected to be in place by summer 2020.

The Community Transportation Grants were first announced in 2018, but with the change of provincial government and lack of central support or coordination for procurement, some routes have taken longer to start up than others. The Leamington – Windsor service, which uses existing Transit Windsor buses, has been running since July 2019.

Without regional coordination of transportation planning, something we believe is most certainly needed for Southwestern Ontario, there is as yet no comprehensive route map and schedule database to illustrate the full scope of the services being funded and introduced, but it will include several of the routes previously identified as high priorities by Transport Action Ontario and the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance in the Network Southwest report published in 2014.

There were critical gaps in the projects that applied for the Community Transportation Grants, including St. Thomas – London, further illustrating the need for regional coordination, rather than a process dependent upon piecemeal grant applications, to maximize the social and economic impact of these investments, although the Mayor of St. Thomas is now requesting additional funding from the Ontario government to restore services on that route.

https://london.ctvnews.ca/ticket-to-ride-regional-bus-from-st-thomas-to-london-in-the-works-1.4733716

Here are the announcements for many of the new services funded by Community Transportation Grants:

Sarnia – London

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/voyago-to-operate-london-strathroy-sarnia-bus-service-1.5402461

Owen Sound – Guelph

https://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/news/local-news/kaspers-owen-sound-to-guelph-transit-service-to-start-jan-15

Tillsonburg – Woodstock

https://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/news/local-news/oxford-inter-community-bus-service-to-launch-in-april

Stratford – Kitchener/London

https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/bus-pilot-project-from-stratford-to-london-kitchener-and-more-set-to-launch-next-year-1.4604140

Leamington – Kingsville – Essex – Windsor

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-leamington-transit-route-1.5204505

Brant e-Ride (on-demand)

https://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/news/local-news/brant-to-offer-eride-service

Wellington County RideWell (on-demand)

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/wellington-county-rural-transit-service-takes-to-the-road-1723716

Chatham-Kent adVANtage (on-demand)

https://familyservicekent.com/services/advantage-transporation/

These services join existing rural transit services in the region, including:

Four Counties Transit (West Elgin, SW Middlesex, Newbury, Eastern Chatham-Kent)

http://www.westelgin.net/residents/four-counties-community-transportation-service

Ride Norfolk

https://www.norfolkcounty.ca/transit/schedulesandmaps/

Chatham-Kent Inter-urban Transit

https://www.chatham-kent.ca/community-services/transportation/InterUrbanTransit

Nov 22

Extensive Media Coverage on Return of Passenger Rail to Northern Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

There has been extensive media coverage recently referencing the return of passenger rail to Northern Ontario and the business case that is currently being developed between Ontario Northland and Metrolinx. The plan is slated to be presented to the Provincial Government for decision making by the end of the year.

Given below are links to recent media articles.

Passenger Rail promise will be fulfilled

Reference to passenger rail transportation proposal and rail solutions for northern Ontario

https://www.northbaynipissing.com/community-story/9706884-trains-planes-and-buses-for-nipissing-on-fedeli-s-2020-to-do-list/

Revival of Passenger Rail from Toronto to Cochrane

https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/mobile/bringing-buses-and-trains-in-the-north-up-to-speed-1.4683248?cache=?ot=AjaxLayout

Passenger Rail Plan Closed to Being Unveiled

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