New group escalates push to revive Northlander and improve other Northern Ontario passenger trains and feeder buses
All Aboard Northern Ontario, a new grassroots advocacy group, today launched its campaign for the restoration of the Northlander passenger train and improvements to other rail and intercity bus services across Northeastern Ontario.
“The time for a determined and well-researched campaign to revive the Northlander is now,” says Éric Boutilier, founder of All Aboard Northern Ontario. “After more than two years of working with other groups to bring this about, it has become apparent that polite meetings with the very politicians and bureaucrats who cancelled the Northlander in 2012 result in nothing.
“Meanwhile, the provincial promise to improve intercity bus service in lieu of reinstating the Northlander has produced a reduction in the frequency of those very buses and endless additional studies by Queen’s Park. This madness needs to stop if Northern Ontarians – especially seniors, students and medical patients – are not to become even more isolated than they are now.”
All Aboard Northern Ontario will be increasing its push for equitable investments in public transportation through the professional development and public presentation of a restoration plan for the Northlander. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have already produced data that throws into question the wisdom of the train’s abandonment by the McGuinty government.
Says Boutilier, “The way forward is the one now being pursued by the All Aboard St. Marys citizens’ committee in Southwestern Ontario. That group has made the future of their region’s rail passenger service a major issue with the public, the media and politicians of all stripes. If there is to be any progress in Northern Ontario, that’s the route to go – and that is the route All Aboard Northern Ontario is going.”
In the weeks ahead, All Aboard Northern Ontario will release its data-based proposal for the restoration of the Northlander. The group will also be investigating and reporting on other northern transportation issues, such as the dismal performance of VIA Rail’s Canadian, which is leaving Ontarians from Sudbury to the Manitoba border in the lurch.
“The time for action is now,” says Boutilier. “With a provincial election on the horizon, the issue of the Northlander needs to be placed before the public and the candidates of all political parties.
“Action also needs to be taken on the inadequate service provided by VIA, which is deteriorating rapidly. We intend to put these and other public transportation issues before the public and our elected officials before the isolation now being experienced by Northern Ontarians grows any worse.”
All Aboard Northern Ontario has today launched its website and social media pages. The website may be accessed atallaboardnorthernontario.com
The public, the media, and politicians are invited to review the data on the Northlander and the state of the region’s precarious transportation network. Northerners are also encouraged to share their story of how the cancellation of the Northlander has affected them personally.