Minister Greg Rickford Announces Expansion of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – The Ontario government is providing more travel options for passengers in the northwest with the launch of a new bus route between White River and Thunder Bay, offering riders easier, more convenient connections and direct stops at hospitals, post-secondary schools, and other community hubs.

Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, was at Lakehead University today to make the announcement.

“It was a pleasure to be in Thunder Bay this morning to announce the Ontario Northland Transit Commission (ONTC) is extending their inter-community bus route from White River to Thunder Bay. This new route starting in April will provide seamless bus connections from Thunder Bay to Ottawa,” says Minister Rickford. “For too long Northwestern Ontario has been under-served by passenger transportation services. I continue to work closely with the ONTC to ensure their service covers all corners of the north and today is an important first step to bring service to the Northwest.”

The new route, offered by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), will provide a six-day-per-week return service to Thunder Bay. It will also fill an existing service gap by becoming the only seamless, scheduled passenger bus travel option from Thunder Bay to Ottawa.

“Our government understands just how important reliable, affordable transportation is to the people of Northern Ontario and we are proud to expand ONTC service into the northwest,” said Minister Rickford. “This new bus route to Thunder Bay will keep more communities connected and will better serve the northwestern region.”

A Trip North with Premier Ford Led to This Project – Rickford

Minister Rickford says, going ‘off script’ that the impetus for this move came after at trip to the Harte Gold mine with Premier Doug Ford. “We were at the A&W and we saw this beautiful ONTC bus… and I thought why not bring this service to the north”.

“Our government is delivering on our commitment to building a better transportation network in Northern Ontario that connects people to jobs and critical services,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Launching a new bus route between White River and Thunder Bay will make it easier for people to get where they need to go while supporting a strong economy.”

“We are providing essential connections for passengers, helping to better connect the north with the rest of the province. Our friendly drivers, free Wifi, onboard washrooms, and new coaches are just a few reasons passengers will be amazed at their experience on an Ontario Northland motor coach,” said Corina Moore, ONTC President, and Chief Executive Officer. “Expanding our services into the northwest to Thunder Bay and providing a seamless link between the communities along Highway 17 from Ottawa is critical to northerners since the departure of Greyhound.”

“Our team is excited to provide scheduled bus service to Thunder Bay,” says Tracy MacPhee, ONTC Director of Passenger Operations. “We look forward to introducing Ontario Northland’s reliable and friendly service to Northwestern Ontario and connecting more passengers to hospitals and educational institutes as well as Toronto and Ottawa.”

The new schedule for service to Thunder Bay will begin in April 2020.

NOMA REACTION

Wendy Landry, President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) says that this announcement is something NOMA has been pushing for a long time. Landry says it is important to also keep existing services going, and not to forget Highway 11 bus service.

Kasper Wabinski, the president and CEO of Kasper Transportation on today’s announcement says, “I have great faith in Minister Rickford and his commitment to work with us to expand services to underserved northern communities. But I am disappointed in the management of ONTC that has never shown the courtesy of contacting us as to how we could work together”.

QUICK FACTS

  • The new route from White River to Thunder Bay will provide a six-day-per-week return service and cover an additional 408 kilometers, one way.
  • The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission is an agency of the Government of Ontario that provides efficient and vital transportation services to Northern Ontario.