As a car-centric nation, 83% of Canadians own or lease a car. Canada is a huge country where people and infrastructure are scattered across the country. Some of them need to drive at least a few hours to get to the nearest supermarket. They also have little reliance on national public transport as it’s an “underserved, with intermittent, expensive and sometimes unsafe transportation option“(NFU).
For the elderly, students and low-income earners, Greyhound was their daily transportation to travel within and between the cities. Due to COVID-19, Greyhound faced severe financial pressure and subsequently terminated service on all of its Canadian routes. Without Greyhound service today, Canadians are suffering from the inadequacy of the nation’s transportation system.
In Ontario, there is a severe traffic gap as well. While Ontario has ‘Go Transit’ connecting the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, there are still plenty of dispersed smaller cities in the interior. For instance, there is no direct bus route between Brantwood and Guelph. To travel between the two cities, one has to take 4 to 5 different buses, which take nearly 4 hours, passing through Burlington and Mississauga. Without a convenient transportation system, bus travel can be very time-consuming and costly.
On February 8th, 2022, Mike Schreiner, MPP for Guelph and the leader of the ‘Green party of Ontario’, announced his party’s plan for Ontario’s regional transit system for the Grand River Watershed area, which includes adding stops in Cambridge to facilitate the transit between Guelph and Brantford. Using this plan residents can still conveniently commute between different areas and cities in a shorter amount of time at an affordable price.
Carla Johnson, Cambridge Green Party candidate, commented that she hears locals complaining about the inconvenience of the transportation system every day. Residents of Cambridge are lacking with transportation options, as Cambridge is the only city in Ontario with a population of over 100,000 that has no rail passenger service. Johnson also said, “this region is expected to be home to over 1 million people by 2030. Yet there’s no affordable and efficient way to get between Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Brantford”.
Better regional transportation planning is absolutely vital to the residents in the Grand River Watershed area today, especially an “affordable and accessible” one. Having a well-developed transit system can not only bring convenience to residents but also provide a more livable, sustainable and healthy city and mitigate climate change issues.
Improving regional transit systems is always a big project for cities. Construction of these projects costs substantial amounts of money and time, and sometimes governments tend to ignore the proposal and make it a lower priority.
Yet, the Ontario Greens stated that they will develop regional transit system plans in the Grand River Watershed and Ontario area a reality by:
- Working with municipalities to implement affordable regional transit between Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Brantford
- Restoring the 50% provincial cost-share for transit operations to help municipalities fund regional transit
- Reallocating the billions of dollars planned for highways like Highway 413 towards affordable, accessible, electrified transit