Transport Action Ontario’s (TAO) annual general meeting, held April 23, 2022, included a portion open to the public. This featured a guest presentation by Elizabeth May M.P., former leader of the Green Party of Canada. This was followed by a brief report by Peter Miasek, President, summarizing the organization’s advocacy efforts over the past year.
Ms. May discussed the importance of ground transportation (intercity rail and bus) to Canada, her Private Members Bill C-236 (“VIA Rail Canada Act”), VIA’s High Frequency Rail proposal and her efforts t for, a multi-party rail caucus in Parliament.
Mr. Miasek’s presentation summarized advocacy activities in the following areas:
Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail
Southwestern Ontario Passenger Rail and Intercommunity Bus
FlixBus, owned by German company FlixMobility, enters the recently deregulated and increasingly crowded Ontario intercity bus market on April 7th 2022, with routes from Toronto to Guelph, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Ottawa.
FlixMobility positions itself as a “mobility provider” rather than a bus company, with local partners contracted to operate to operate FlixBus-branded motorcoaches. Its low-cost business model, with online-first ticket sales is particularly appealing to students and budget travellers. Fares in Ontario start at $11.99. However, seat selection and additional luggage incurs an extra fee.
From is first three routes launched in 2013 around Munich, FlixMobility has grown rapidly, with global operations now spanning 38 countries under the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands. FlixBus has been hoping to enter the Canadian market for some time, after entering the North American market and launching FlixBus USA in 2018.
In 2020, Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus North America, was the guest speaker at Transport Action’s online Annual General Meeting, speaking about FlixBus’s plans:
Canadian FlixBus services will be competing with GO, Megabus and Rider Express services between Niagara Falls and Toronto; with GO and OnexBus between Kitchener and Toronto; and with Megabus and Rider Express on the Toronto to Ottawa route. Each service offering uses slightly different routes. All new entrants have faced challenges starting up services while passenger numbers have been lower due to the pandemic. Rider Express also launched a service between Toronto, Kitchener, London and Windsor but has currently suspended it until the situation is more favourable.
FlixMobility stepped in to buy Greyhound USA from First Group in October 2021. For the time being, FlixBus USA and Greyhound operations remain separate, although the Boltbus sub-brand of Greyhound which competed directly with the Flixbus business model, has been discontinued.
Greyhound Canada was completely shut down months before the American business was sold to FlixMobility, but Greyhound USA services across the border to Toronto resumed in the fall of 2021 after a hiatus due to pandemic border crossing restrictions. Future FlixBus routes in Canada are also expected to include cross-border services.
As readers know, in January, 2022 Ontario launched a Northern Transportation Task Force, one of 60 actions set out in “Connecting the North A Draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario”. On March 13, we received the following communication from Danny Whalen, Co-chair:
We had our first meeting of the full task force and our third meeting of the Co-Chairs.
We went around the table and gathered both concerns and wants for transportation in the north. We listed both and it was no surprise that many concerns and wants were shared by numerous members. We have taken the list and organized our upcoming meetings I order of priority. Highway maintenance and classification was the highest scoring. The benefits of increasing rail usage for both freight and passenger is another highly shared topic.
We also want to gather as much outside input as possible and have created an email box for collection. If you and your group want to share directly with the task force then please do and submit to
Board member Ken Westcar attended the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) conference in November, 2021. His notes were circulated to the Transport Action Ontario board, but are of broad interest, so we felt that members and the general public should have access to them.
Prominent speakers included three Ministers of Transportation and various provincial, municipal and industry specialists. Ken’s briefing note can be viewed below:
Transport Action Ontario (TAO) has long advocated to preserve the Orangeville-Brampton Railway (OBRY) corridor for transportation. See our posting of January 5, 2021.
The OBRY shut down in December, 2021. In January, 2022, we learned that the Town of Orangeville had agreed to sell about 5 acres of the railway lands in downtown Brampton to the City of Brampton. This deal closed in February. We also learned in February that Peel Region was investigating the purchase of the balance of the corridor lands.
TAO strongly supports these purchases so that the corridor remains in public hands. We have written Peel Region outlining 6 important factors supporting this purchase.