Backgrounder - ONTC Divestment
Closing of the Northlander Train
The last day of service for the Northlander train will be September 28, 2012.
Existing ONTC bus service can accommodate additional passengers from the Northlander train. The ONTC will continue its regular practice of adding buses when passenger volumes exceed existing capacity. The government will also continue to monitor passenger volumes and will work with the ONTC to enhance service if required.
More than half of the ONTC bus fleet is wheelchair accessible and meets service needs. The ONTC has a long-standing program for passengers requiring wheelchair accessible service to pre-book travel 48 hours in advance by calling 1-800-461-8558.
The shutdown of the Northlander train eliminates an unsustainable subsidy and service duplication:
- On average, both Northlander passenger train and bus service operate well below 50 per cent capacity
- The subsidy for the Northlander is four times the actual revenue for the business
- Subsidies cost taxpayers about $400 per rider for the Northlander
Polar Bear Express Train and Niska I Ferry
Services to rural and remote communities will not be affected, with the Polar Bear Express train continuing service between Cochrane and Moosonee and the Niska I ferry sailing between Moosonee and Moose Factory Island. There is no other year-round ground transportation to Moosonee and the rest of the James Bay coast.
Divestment of Ontera
Ontera is the telecommunications system operating in Northeastern Ontario, owned and operated by the ONTC. In the coming weeks, Infrastructure Ontario will be releasing a request for qualifications allowing interested buyers to demonstrate their interest and background in purchasing Ontera. The request for qualifications is the first step in a fair and competitive tendering process. To date, Infrastructure Ontario has received 13 unsolicited expressions of interest for Ontera. Beginning the market phase for Ontera marks an important step in bringing private sector investment to Northern Ontario.
Environment Assessment Process
The Ministry of the Environment has granted an environmental assessment exemption for all activities of the divestment process. Environmental protection is already addressed through other regulatory requirements as the ONTC currently holds eight Environmental Compliance Approvals issued under both the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. New operators will be required to comply with this legislation.
Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy
The government remains committed to ensuring that Northern communities and industries benefit from a viable, efficient and sustainable transportation system. The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario features the development of a Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy ─ led by the Ministry of Transportation ─ which will form the blueprint for a modern, sustainable transportation system.
The strategy will build on investments by all levels of government and align them with strategic Northern priorities. The strategy will integrate long-term planning for air, road, rail and marine transportation in Northern Ontario.
Infrastructure Ontario is a Crown corporation dedicated to delivering some of the province's larger and more complex infrastructure renewal projects, on time and on budget. It also manages one of the largest real estate portfolios in Canada, offers real estate services, such as asset management and property and land management, and provides the public sector and not-for-profit organizations with long-term financing to renew public infrastructure.