Transport Action Ontario (TAO) participated in a well-attended demonstration in Brantford on June 24, 2023 concerning reinstatement of VIA Trains 82/83, key commuter-oriented trains connecting to/from Toronto. We spoke to several elected officials and municipal staff.
Conservative MP Larry Brock was frustrated that former VIA CEO, Martin Landry had stated there was no equipment and no crew to reinstate Train 82 after Covid. Larry considered this unacceptable and will continue to pursue the matter with the new VIA CEO, Mario Peloquin. He said that all inquiries to VIA’s customer relations department about Train 82 were usually met with “call your MP”. They did, so he saw the magnitude of the issue.
Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis was similarly frustrated as he had requested GO Transit to replace its bus with an early morning train because of congestion on Highway 403 and the Lincoln Alexander Memorial Expressway that often-made driving to Aldershot a 60-90 minute crawl. He stated it gets worse by the week because of the accelerating urban sprawl in Paris/Brantford and along the top of the Hamilton Mountain.
Both elected officials showed interest in working with TAO. We also engaged with the Clerk of Brantford who indicated the city needed additional resources to drive the Train 82 issue. There were questions on High Frequency Rail but we advised it will be another 2 years before the project is confirmed and about 10-15 years before there are any services west of Toronto – in the event it proceeds.
There was excellent media coverage of the event. We hope that other elected officials in southwestern Ontario follow the example of Brantford with demonstrations, alliances and political advocacy, as this appears to be the action necessary to obtain improvements in these vital train connections.