Category Archives for "Southwestern Ontario"

Jan 26

Submission to Ontario 2024 Budget Consultation

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

The Ontario government is conducting public consultations leading up to its 2024 Budget, expected in March, 2024. Transport Action Ontario has made a written submission on public transportation needs, with eight recommendations:

  • Make Community Transportation Grants permanent
  • Use a partnership approach on regional passenger rail outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe
  • Work with CN to upgrade track for new “Northlander” train
  • Support shortline rail with track maintenance tax credit
  • Introduce provincial banking of discontinued rail corridors, i.e. “rail bank”
  • Do a deep dive into capital costs and procurement model for rapid transit in Ontario
  • Cancel Highway 413
  • Scope new revenue tools for municipal government, and on congestion/road pricing

Our submission can be viewed below.

Dec 24

MTO Southwestern Ontario Transportation Plan – Input to second Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

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

As discussed in our posting of June 5, 2023, MTO has set up a Technical Advisory Committee, led by Arcadis/IBI, to further develop its draft Southwestern Ontario Transportation Plan.

The Tenchical Advisory Committee held its second meeting on December 6, 2023.

Transport Action Ontario again participated actively in this meeting and subsequently provided detailed comments. These can be viewed below.

Dec 18

InterCity Bus extends service to Sarnia

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

InterCity Bus, a new company in Southwestern Ontario’s motorcoach market which launched with London to Toronto services earlier this year, is extending its network to Sarnia starting on December 18, 2023.

The service is launching with three round trips per day, serving Sarnia’s Bayside Transit Terminal and the transit interchange at Murphy Road, making a stop in Strathroy (Tim Hortons, 28630 Centre Road) and arriving in London at the Intercity Bus Terminal, where connections can be made with services to Woodstock, Kitchener, Toronto Pearson Airport (T1), and downtown Toronto (44 York Street, outside Union Station).

London Bus Terminal

Intercity Bus London Terminal - Interior view with seats and service counter.

Intercity Bus leased and reopened the former Greyhound bus terminal at 101 York Street in London as its base of operations, providing comfortable place to wait for buses and make connections, with a customer service counter and washrooms.

For passengers making connections with train services, the VIA Rail station is about a five minute walk away.

Fares and Schedules

Fares between Sarnia and London start at $24.85 including tax, Sarnia to Toronto is $57.52. Two suitcases will be carried free of charge, additional bags are $5, and bicycles may be transported for $15.

Tickets can be booked online at, by phone (519) 719-9237, in person at the London terminal, and through Drivers will also accept cash if seats are available, although exact change is required.

London to Sarnia
Bus StopTrip 1Trip 2Trip 3
London – Intercity Bus Terminal4:50 AM9:00 AM4:15 PM
Strathroy – Tim Hortons 5:25 AM9:35 AM4:55 PM
Sarnia – Real Canadian Superstore 6:05 AM10:20 AM5:35 PM
Sarnia – Bayside Terminal6:15 AM10:30 AM5:40 PM
Sarnia to London
Bus StopTrip 1Trip 2Trip 3
Sarnia – Bayside Terminal6:25 AM10:45 AM5:55 PM
Sarnia – Real Canadian Superstore 6:35 AM10:55 AM6:05 PM
Strathroy – Tim Hortons7:15 AM11:35 AM6:45 PM
London – Intercity Bus Terminal 7:55 AM12:15 PM7:20 PM
Schedule as of December 18, 2023

Rebuilding Southwestern Ontario’s Network

Combined with the Sarnia-London intercommunity bus, which also makes stops in Mount Brydges and Komoka, there are now six daily bus trips, plus the single VIA Rail round trip between Sarnia and London. At London, in addition to motorcoach and rail connections to Toronto, several other intercommunity bus routes are available (see Southwest Community Transit). However, the future of these vital intercommunity services beyond 2025 has yet to be confirmed by the Ontario government.

IntercityBus also has future plans to add a service between London and St. Thomas, a route that has lacked public transportation since the collapse of the of Abouttown Northlink bus network in 2013.

Transport Action Ontario would like to see London serve as a regional mobility hub, with a combined station for motorcoach services, intercommunity bus, passenger rail, and easy connections to London Transit.

London Mayor Josh Morgan meeting with Transport Action Ontario board members Ken Westcar, Tariq Khan, and Terry Johnson.
Aug 14

London should become a regional rail and bus hub

By Transport Action Ontario | Southwestern Ontario

London is the economic hub of southwestern Ontario; and should also be its mobility hub with frequent and reliable rail and bus connections throughout the region. This was the message shared by all when Mayor Josh Morgan met with public transportation advocates and researchers from Transport Action Canada on August 10, 2023.

The group discussed the need to revive the promised, but subsequently cancelled, improvement plans for GO services on the North Main Line through Stratford and Kitchener. The service is be cut in October with the province asserting that “infrastructure will no longer be available to maintain this service”. The facts supporting this statement are obscure, but it is known that the CN track between London and Kitchener is in extremely poor condition, with train speeds limited to 30 mph over most of the route, which is why the train current takes four hours to reach Toronto, 90 minutes slower than in the 1990s. At the last provincial election, Premier Doug Ford promised an investment of $120M to address this, providing a more frequent service to London on a more attractive schedule.

Transport Action has been campaigning for improved service on this route since the federal government directed VIA Rail to cut back services in 2011, an effort supported by the Stratford and District Chamber of Commerce and all communities through which the North Main Line passes. Together we must speak with a robust and strident voice to the Ford government about the vital importance of adequate passenger rail services, extending the strategy adopted by Kitchener to securing a provincial commitment for all-day/two way GO train services.

It is also hoped that ongoing studies by both senior levels of government will result in timely improvements in rail service in southwestern Ontario, in addition to the promised return of the morning VIA train, #82, to Toronto this fall. With all three levels of government working together, London’s station could become the nexus of rail, motorcoach, and intercommunity bus routes throughout the region, providing both reliable mobility and a safe, fully accessible, place to make connections.

Transport Canada has engaged CPCS Transcom to undertake a SWO rail capacity study, as promised by former Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in London last year. This study is expected to recommend investments to significantly increase VIA Rail services between Toronto and London on the route through Brantford. However, this has in indefinite timeline having been framed by the federal government as “phase two” of the slow-moving High Frequency Rail project. This delay is unnecessary, and Transport Canada should advance much-needed investment in southwestern Ontario in parallel with the Toronto to Quebec City project.

The provincial government has contracted Arcadis/IBI Group to work on an extension of the previous SWO Transportation Task Force Report covering all modes. The original report of the Task Force, chaired by previous mayor Ed Holder, has not yet been made public by the Minister of Transportation.

Jul 02

Federal Study of Southwestern Ontario Passenger Rail Enhancement – second update

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

As described in our first post (September 30, 2022), a federal study on passenger rail enhancements in southwestern Ontario is underway. In November, it was announced that CPCS Transcom, in association with WSP, will act as external advisors, with a report due by end 2023.

Following months of little public activity, three important events occurred in the last week of June, 2023:

(a) Minister Alghabra held the long-promised ministerial roundtable with stakeholders. Although attendance was limited to mayors and wardens, Transport Action Ontario prepared a briefing package that was circulated to these attendees ahead of time, giving our take on benefits of rail, concern areas and what municipalities need to ask for. The package is attached below.

(b) Following the roundtable, Minister Alghabra and new VIA President Mario Peloquin announced the return of Trains 82/83 in Fall, 2023, assuming track access agreements can be negotiated with CN and Metrolinx. We have previously learned that negotiations between CN and CIA on track access in general have not been going well. Therefore we welcome the Minister’s commitment that “we will support VIA in whatever they need to make sure that it happens”.

(c) Transport Action representatives also met with CPCS on June 29. We had earlier submitted a briefing note to CPCS covering our material previously sent to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. These included rail infrastructure recommendations and developing London as a hub for high frequency rail in southwestern Ontario. The briefing package is attached below. We learned that the scope of work for CPCS is consistent with previous plans, namely:

  • Focus on Burlington to London, Windsor and Sarnia (ie Kitchener line not included)
  • Study increased service on existing CN infrastructure, with existing station locations
  • Develop 3 service scenarios, with the best being hourly London-Toronto. This is consistent with our recommendations.

Improved passenger rail is vital to southwestern Ontario. Transport Action will continue to be very involved with both this federal study and the Ontario study.

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