Erosion of Public Transportation in Northern Ontario a Cause for Concern

September 10, 2009, 3:17 PM EST

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The continued erosion of public transportation is a growing concern in Northern Ontario that threatens to leave communities with reduced or no service at all, the Ontario Northland General Chairpersons' Association (GCA) says.

Over the past decade the trend of private sector companies as well as Ontario Northland has been to reduce intercity bus and rail service across Northern Ontario, with some communities losing service entirely, said Brian Kelly, GCA spokesperson and president of CAW Local 103.

"Communities like Chapleau, Foleyet, and Manitoulin Island have lost their bus services all together, with the recent Greyhound announcement, many other communities in the north are on the brink of losing their public transportation service," Kelly said.

Intercity bus and rail services are inexpensive, efficient and convenient and often the only services available to rural areas and small communities, including many First Nations. Rail and bus services are eco friendly and help provide transportation links that also support the tourism industry in the north.

"What Northern Ontario needs is a long term, integrated and socially responsible plan for transportation options in the region to stop this erosion of service," said Kelly. With provincial government direction and approval, Kelly said the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission could become the transportation and communication authority for the north.

He urged northern communities and residents to let the provincial government know that public transportation is a vital service that must be renewed, expanded and protected.

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