Representatives from the General Chairperson’s Association (GCA) which represents all unionized employees at Ontario Northland (ONTC) are appalled by the Government’s total lack of commitment to Northerners once the government’s moves forward with it discontinuation of the Northlander passenger train.
“Minister Bartolucci and his government told Northerners on March 23, 2012 that there would be enhanced bus service to replace the Northlander. But now the government is saying that there will be no enhancement to bus service and that the current system will suffice. ” said GCA spokesperson Brian Kelly.
“The GCA has legitimate concerns that the current ONTC Bus fleet will not be able to handle the increase in ridership and the aging fleet. This situation was made worse by the McGuinty government’s decision to cancel the purchase of three new Canadian built motor coaches earlier this year. The combination of aging fleet and refusal to add new motor coaches to the fleet will be disastrous for Northerners and will certainly mean that passengers will have to seek other means of travel and many more will just decide not to travel”, added Kelly.
“It is quite apparent that this government has no plan to fill the gap caused by their ill-advised decision to cancel the Northlander service. Nor do they seem to care when passengers getting off the Polar Bear Express in Cochrane may not be able to get to a southern destination because there is not enough buses to make the 14 hour journey from Cochrane to Toronto”, continued Kelly.
“Then to add injury to insult, after making that long journey south to Toronto, passengers who were intent on making a train connection at Union Station will now have to find their own way there with luggage and children in tow the 2 kms from Dundas/Bay bus terminal. Now compare that to the Premier McGuinty’s announcement of Monday of his government’s plan to build a 25 kilometer rail line between Union Station to Pearson Airport. This rail line will provide passengers with the means to access connecting flights or train departures. Do you see any difference in the Liberals commitment to the travelling public between North and South? Bartolucci’s disdain for Northerners is evident,” concluded Kelly.