Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bisson fears bus cuts will continue

Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson put Northern Development minister in the hot-seat this week, over the proposed cuts to Ontario Northland’s bus service. Bisson grilled MNDM Minister Michael Gravelle during the Standing Committee on Estimates meeting at Queen’s Park.
“Reducing services will result in a reduction in ridership. That is going to lead to a downward spiral on more reductions,” Bisson told the minister.
As the NDP Critic for Transportation, Bisson said he called on Gravelle to delay service cuts. “The Union is asking for the government and the ONTC to take another look at the situation. The Union has options but needs the Minister to consult with them, communities and riders.”
Bisson even offered his support for such a process. “I am in favour of making the ONTC more productive. But reducing services doesn’t equal productivity. Improving service will mean more riders, which in turn improves productivity and the bottom line.”
Bisson says the ONTC bus service is the ‘Go Transit’ of Northern Ontario.
“It is a crown agency that operates rail, bus and train service throughout the north. Go Transit is subsidized properly so why wouldn’t the ONTC receive similar treatment?” he asked.
Bisson says savings from the proposed cuts are not that costly and he asks why not have the Province offset any extra costs with adjustments to the provincial subsidy.
He says the ONTC can then re-examine the operation to find other areas for savings. Talking with the Union and communities is the first step, he said.

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