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Dec 01

Submission to Ontario Standing Committee re Budget 2021

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

Transport Action Ontario has submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, in preparation for Ontario Budget 2021. The brief discusses two recommendations:

(a) Immediately improve passenger rail in Southwestern Ontario with municipal and business inputs

(b) Work in conjunction with the Federal Government to institute High Performance Rail across Ontario

The brief can be viewed below:

Nov 10

Ontario moves to deregulate intercity bus services

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

The Ontario government has introduced Bill 213, an omnibus bill that includes a proposal to dissolve the Ontario Highway Transport Board. This board was set up decades ago to regulate intercity motorcoach service. It provided exclusive franchises on profitable routes with the expectation that those profits would subsidize less profitable services to rural and remote areas. The system has not worked well in recent years, in that companies were allowed to drop low-performing routes while maintaining their monopolies on lucrative routes.

Transport Action Ontario has long advocated for modernizing the Ontario regulatory framework. However, we recognize that the most widely raised concern about motorcoach services is ensuring province-wide service, with safe places to wait for the bus, not facilitating cutthroat competition on the busiest routes. A further concern is the damaging impact of an out-and-out bus war between private operators on a corridor parallel to VIA Rail or GO Transit.  For rural and remote routes. it is likely to continue to be necessary for publicly-owned carriers such as Ontario Northland to operate the routes, or for the province to ensure service provision using community transportations grants.

Nov 05

Importance of Preserving the Barrie-Collingwood Rail Infrastructure

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

The Barrie-Collingwood Railway ( a shortline) is currently in danger of abandonment and removal. It is currently owned by the City of Barrie and the County of Simcoe. Transport Action Ontario has written a letter to the owners and other stakeholders urging retention of the line due to its economic benefits and low level of subsidy.

Our letter can be viewed here:

Oct 28

Reply to Federal Ministers: Improving Passenger Rail in the Corridor and the rest of Canada

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

On March 24 and May 25, 2020 Transport Action Ontario (TAO) sent letters to key Federal Ministers on recommendations for improving passenger rail in Canada. See posting on this website on those dates. We received response letters referencing the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Transportation 2030: A Strategic Plan for the Future of Transportation in Canada, and VIA’s High Frequency Rail (HFR) proposal.

TAO has now sent a reply expressing our concerns with the Transportation 2030 Plan. We also discussed the importance of a frequency improvement project in the corridor, be it HFR or another approach using existing freight rail corridors along Lake Ontario.

Our letter is shown below.

Oct 16

Submission to Ontario Fall 2020 Budget Consultation

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 the Fall, 2020 Budget, to be released in early November. Transport Action Ontario has made the following submission, focusing on public transportation.

Northern Ontario

  • Provide funding to implement the Ontario Northland + Metrolinx study on passenger train and bus renewal in Northern Ontario
  • Work with the federal government to save the Huron Central Railway (HCR), 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. This would include lengthening freight sidings to effectively provide passenger rail priority.

Other Rail

  • Work with the federal government to assist Ontario‚Äôs short line railways by providing financial assistance as per our position paper of September 14, 2020. In addition to the HCR above, the Barrie-Collingwood-Railway is currently under threat of closure.

Urban and Rural Transit

  • Continue to work with the Federal Government on emergency funding for transit to bridge revenue loss from Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Increase the gas tax share directed to 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.
  • Expand the highly-successful Community Transportation Grant Program and improve regional coordination/planning/oversight and shared service models. 


  • 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 HOT lane program on Ontario expressways.