Ontario Northland: Worth a second look?

Back in our earliest posts, we spelled out why some operators ended up being included on our map and why others were left out. Mostly, when we thought up this project, we were zeroing in on the lack of an Ontario-wide bus map, meaning that operators that do have maps were not going to be included. We had no bias in favour of buses over trains either, it’s just that VIA and GO have maps already; it’s almost like they actually understand their passengers might have a number of travel goals in mind and want to know how all the pieces fit together. (Sarcasm certainly intended) This meant that bus routes run by Ontario Northland ended up being left out of our map.

The fact that the Ontario Northland bus and rail operations both have maps goes against our original goal of filling the gap left by Greyhound, Megabus etc. in their lack of cartographical interest. However, now that our project has some legs, it might be time to revisit our passing over of Ontario Northland.

I see a couple of good reasons why we might want to do this. To start off with, in case you haven’t noticed, this blog has morphed very quickly from one focused on the nitty gritty of map making to one where we advocate for better bus service in Ontario and sometimes further afield. For us, this isn’t too much of a departure from what motivated us to start the project in the first place; we are intercity (and local) transit riders ourselves and the offhand why in which cuts are made and mobility options reduced by both the public and private sectors makes us angry. So, we created the map and proceeded to comment on issues relating to intercity transportation. With this advocacy goal in mind, adding the Ontario Northland operations to the map does make sense as provincially mandated cuts to that agency are big news in the North and having their (now reduced) routes on our map could be an extra layer of empowerment for bus riders in a large part of our province.

Secondly, a lot of you readers are very passionate about having us add the ONTC (Ontario Northland Transportation Commission; Ontario Northland’s official name) to our map and for good reason, as many UrbanToronto commenters have noticed, ONTC operates much like an intercity bus system anyways and showing how their network connects other carriers starts us moving towards the “comprehensiveness” we wanted to see in our map.

Before we get all giddy with bus-nerd excitement and add these lines to our project, there are some things Shaun and I should consider. Firstly, ONTC is also a train operator; running the Polar Bear Express from Cochrane to Moosonee. While we really, really don’t have a bias against trains, we didn’t add GO or VIA to our map as they publish their own. If we go ahead and add ONTC buses, even though they do have a service map, should we add the Polar Bear Express as well?

Beyond the “bus vs. train” arguments, we have another problem; Northern Ontario. Given that the mandate of the ONTC is to provide intercity transit and parcel service to Ontario’s North, including the entire network would drastically expand the service area shown on our map. This isn’t a bad thing but given our original goal of plotting and advocating for intercity transit in the more populous south, we need to consider the fact that neither of us are all that familiar with the North. Maybe some of our dear readers live or have more experience with the vast lands north of Sudbury? Drop us a line, we’d be glad to hear from you!

With all these arguments laid bare for you all, let us know what you think. Should we add ONTC routes to our map? If so, what should be our cut off point? (EG, only showing those lines south of Sudbury/North Bay?) In our few posts so far, we’ve fired up a conversation about bus travel in this province and across the country; we know you folks won’t disappoint!

 

 

 

 

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