By Dryden Observer Staff
Residents of the Northwest will have more options for travel between communities as the province has pledged to work with privately-owned transportation carriers to introduce bus service to parts of the Northwest.
Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, made the announcement in Thunder Bay last week alongside MPP Bill Mauro.
The communities that will benefit from this collaboration include Hearst, Hornepayne, White River, Red Lake, Emo, Rainy River, Fort Frances, Atikokan, Red Rock and others. Improved services will provide vital links between communities that will help people living in Northern Ontario travel to medical and personal appointments, attend school, visit with friends and family, and access other essential services.
Return service will be offered five days a week between all communities serviced by the ONTC or private carriers. Ridership will be monitored regularly to ensure customer demand is met and service is expanded as needed.
Local transportation providers Kasper Transportation have partnered with the province.
“Through collaboration with the ONTC, a reliable and effective transportation service will be made available to many Northern residents,” said Kasper Wabinski, President and CEO, Kasper Transportation.
Ontario is also launching a new Community Transportation Grant Program to help municipalities, Indigenous communities and other organizations throughout the province provide more travel options in areas that are not served, or underserved by public transit and intercommunity bus. The program will make it more convenient for seniors, students, persons living with disabilities and others to access essential services in their communities, connect with other transportation services, and travel between cities and towns.
The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) welcomed the announcement.
“NOSDA is also excited about the new Community Transportation Grant Stream that will not only provide funding for internal community transportation for those areas without an urban transportation system, but will provide opportunities to connect communities not on the main line inter-community bus system through a locally operated service. We hope a number of communities across the North will take advantage of this opportunity” said NOSDA’s Iain Angus.