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.