THUNDER BAY, ON --- September 14, 2015 - - The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) is sounding the alarm bells following the discovery that Greyhound Canada will reduce services in Northern Ontario by 50 percent.
Greyhound confirmed to the Northeastern Ontario media in late August that effective September 25 bus service through Northwestern Ontario will be cut in half. Currently, there are two runs in each direction. After the cuts there will only be one. There has been minimal publicity throughout the Northwest on Greyhound’s decision.
“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 pointing out 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.
Currently the North has a hybrid of transportation services with significant changes having occurred over the past number of decades. 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.
“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 Minister of Transportation, the Hon Steven Del Duca asking that he intervene to ensure that the existing service can be maintained.
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 North Shore communities between Manitouwadge and Nipigon, Thunder Bay and then west through Upsala, Ignace, Dryden and Kenora through to Manitoba.