I'm well aware of the anti-francophone sentiment that existed at the time. There was a law prohibiting the teaching of french in the education system in Ontario (règlement 17). As a franco-ontarian, I know first hand what the challenges we are faced with. Off topic though.
It's never been a cost effective or sustainable operation - hence the need for subsidies. There aren't all that many people in the region, and consequently, not very many "goods" to transport for such a limited population.
I never said that it was cost effective. Under the current setup, it isn't working to its fullest potential. For example, I am unable to figure out why the train competes with the bus schedules in the middle of the day. The schedules need to be spaced out in such a way that the use of the train is practical. It is beyond me why he Northlander does not stop in the largest city
in the area (for 400 or so km within any direction) - that being Timmins. In my opinion, the Northlander & Polar Bear Express should both terminate in Timmins. It is also beyond me why the Northlander is the only train in Northern Ontario that doesn't stop at many of the smaller communities (north of Gravenhurst) nor does the train have a stop in Richmond Hill (despite the facilities already in place). The Northlander should be a night train.
Furthermore, the Canadian Transport Authority filed a report (granted in 1993) regarding the Northlander train.
Decision No. 588-R-1993
The Agency finds that the effect of the discontinuance of the passenger-train service on other services and carriers would be significant, especially for the highway system. However, given the decreases in both the number of accidents, and the accident rate, the Agency is not persuaded that the highway system would become so crowded that safety would be compromised. As to the effect on other carriers, the Agency is persuaded that the discontinuance of the passenger-train service could mean the eventual termination of the northern segment of the freight and passenger-service now operated by the ONR.
The Agency finds that the discontinuance of the Toronto-North Bay segment of the service would likely result in the demise of the segment north of North Bay. It must be noted, however, that this statement is based on the assumption that no other entity, such as the Province of Ontario, ONTC, or the type of private short-line operator suggested by Mr. Howard Restoule, Chairman of the Aboriginal Peoples Alliance of Northern Ontario, might purchase and operate the service.
In terms of other public interest issues, the Agency finds that the discontinuance of the passenger-train service would have significant effects on the population served by this service. The Agency recognizes that the passenger-train service represents an important component of the economy of northeastern Ontario, and that the area is undergoing a difficult economic transition from a resource base to other industries such as tourism. Discontinuance would have serious adverse implications for this economy at this time.
The Agency also finds that while bus service is an adequate alternative for many travellers, the requirements for the accommodation and comfort of individuals with medical needs, seniors and persons with disabilities are often better served by the train.
The Agency finds that, at this time, the economic and social impact of this service on the region it serves outweighs such factors as the losses incurred by the service, and that retention of the service is in the public interest.
The Agency determines that the passenger-train service comprised of Train Nos. 121 and 122, jointly operated by the Ontario Northland Railway and the Canadian National Railway Company, between Toronto and North Bay, in the province of Ontario, is uneconomic, but that this passenger-train service is in the public interest and should not be discontinued.
What's changed (other than the decade of which we find ourselves)?
Here is what is at stake:
- close to 1000 direct jobs affected by this decision
- the spin-off economics from these positions
- the tax base that municipalities, town & cities require to pay for local infrastructure, social & economic developments (both from the commission & the residents employed by said commission)
- a transportation & communications network created & payed for by tax-payers dedicated towards serving rural & remote communities
Municipal taxes will rise (considerably) if the decision isn't in our favour...
Business' who have a direct or indirect connection are going to suffer from reduced business (whether it's a supplier to the ONTC or the local shop who sells a pack of gum to an employee)...
Fewer employment options for people living along the 11 corridor...
Fewer short & longer distance transportation options for those who require them... (particularly for those who are ill or disabled)
Ultimately, a reduction in the population size for all of our areas...
If the infrastructure is not in place to spur development in our area (such as a railroad), then I would love to hear any strategy proposals to help Northern Ontario grow its economy, its population...