MANITOULIN—Ontario Northland has now officially announced it has expanded its bus service westward to areas like Espanola, and will include Manitoulin Island. Ontario Northland will continue to work with the United Manitoulin Transportation (UMT) committee to try and address concerns with the proposed service not including community to community transportation service.
“Manitoulin Island is on our radar for sure,” stated Tracy MacPhee, director of passenger operations for Ontario Northland, in commenting on the announcement earlier this week that the company is expanding its bus service westward to include Espanola, Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, White River and many communities in between, including Manitoulin.
An Ontario Northland release notes, “the new routes will make life easier for Northerners by connecting our passengers to hospital and college and university campuses. We’re adding over 750 kilometres and 20 communities to our system,” Ms. MacPhee said. “We look forward to conveniently connecting passengers where they need to be; whether for medical appointment, school, travel or family visits.”
The Ontario Northland proposed main route includes communities and agency locations on Highways 540 and 6 on Manitoulin.
“Our big concern with the proposed schedule is that it does not meet the needs of Island residents, in terms of getting from community to community on the island, and the times referenced in the schedule for a three hour travel route on the Island, and the times the service would start and end in Sudbury,” Guy Dumas, chair of MUT, told the Recorder.
“We are working with the Manitoulin United Transportation group to try and find solutions for their concerns about providing service (from community to community transportation on island). We are very interested in providing service on Manitoulin Island and parts of the North. We work with other operators and if another wants to work out and provide further service we try and hook up with them. We are very interested in the services we are going to be providing on Manitoulin, and our plan is to start service on Manitoulin in March.”
“No, we haven’t got a solid schedule in place for Manitoulin at this point, and we are still working with the Manitoulin group as well. But all of this will be finalized in the next few weeks,” said Ms. MacPhee.
“Ontario Northland is not at a point that we can provide services within and around communities on the Island, but we are working with the Manitoulin group and where they can access funding, so this service may be provided.”
“Our own mandate is to provide services from the main highway (from Sudbury) to Manitoulin and back,” said Ms. MacPhee. “Currently we are waiting on more equipment to provide the services from say Hearst to Whitefish and other communities including Manitoulin. We’re so happy to be able to provide services for communities like Manitoulin. Our people are very excited to see the service being expanded.”
Please visit Ontario Northland’s website for a full listing of bus stops and to find agency locations or call 1-800-461-8558.
“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the communities we’ve been in contact with,” said Ms. MacPhee. “We look forward to introducing Ontario Northland’s safe and reliable motor-coach service to new markets and growing our ridership.” She noted a schedule for service on Manitoulin and agent locations will be in place by March.
The Ontario Northland Transportation expansion is part of the provincial government’s investment into improved intercommunity bus transportation in the North as announced in December 2017 by the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, and the Honourable Bill Mauro, minister of Municipal Affairs.