The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) is sounding off about Greyhound Canada’s decision to cut bus service in Northern Ontario in half by Sept. 25.
“The reduction in services is a major concern in the northwest because most communities will be gravely impacted,” said Iain Angus, vice-president of NOMA in a statement, adding that there has been no opportunity for public input on the decision.
“The reduction forces residents living in the northwest without a personal vehicle to rely on family, friends or in many cases by emergency medical service paramedics for transportation. Travel to larger centres is necessary for medical appointments or to area DSSAB offices to obtain social assistance,” said Angus.
Although inter-city bus service is essential for many residents of Northwestern Ontario, successive governments have allowed the service to be reduced and in some areas eliminated, said Angus.
“While we know that volume levels have been decreasing over the past few years, it is important to recognize the vastness of the region. Providing some form of transportation service is necessary given the distances people must travel between communities,” added Angus.
NOMA has written to the provincial transportation minister Steven Del Duca asking that he intervene to ensure that the existing service can be maintained.
Angus at one time, the government provided subsidies to ensure that routes with lower ridership would still receive service. Regulations moved away from a concept of cross subsidization whereby operators used the profits from the more lucrative routes to subsidize the service to the more remote parts of the province.
Greyhound is the primary provider of intercity bus service into and through the northwest. It serves the communities between Manitouwadge and Nipigon, Thunder Bay and then west through Upsala, Ignace, Dryden and Kenora through to Manitoba.