December 8, 2023

Return Our #651 Please

County keeps on top of the transpo challenges

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Two important, but separate, transportation-related, data-gathering train and bus projects in Northumberland are seeking public input.

A survey to collect information about how county residents need the cancelled VIA Train #651 to Toronto will be in open from July 7 to 29, the county’s economic director Dan Borowec told county committee members this week. Each of the seven county municipalities are being urged to assist in getting word out about the survey which will soon be available on the Northumberland County website. The data will be used to develop a business case for the train’s return looking at everything from jobs to health and education reasons.

A very successful meeting was also recently held with “mayors east of us” along the rail line and Borowec said that as a result Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison spoke to a VIA rail director who lives in his community. The feedback indicates a “possibility” of the return of VIA Train #651, he said.

County Warden and Trent Hills Mayor Bob Crate said support from other regions is “great” while Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson went much further. “I’m very optimistic that say, by September, we can get this re-instated,” Sanderson said. “I think we’re on the right track” with the creation of a business case for the train’s return. In addition, he noted that while transportation is a federal responsibility, the economic development boosted via VIA is a provincial one and both levels of government should be lobbied.

The other transportation project seeking public information is that for a delayed September bus service start up involving Metrolix and Northumberland Manufacturers’ Association which was announced several months ago.

Northumberland County staffer T.J.Flynn identified two parts for the committee as bus service to be established within the county and the county to Oshawa GO station service link. 

Data will be collected and evaluated to design routes and times, he said.

The marketing campaign to elicit survey information about the internal needs and link to GO gets underway “in the next two weeks” and involves a variety of media, social media and mail outs, Flynn explained.

The pilot project of actual bus service is expected to begin Sept. 5 (delayed from the July start earlier announced) and will run a year, although either could be reduced to nine months, the committee was told

It is “vitally important to the county” to attract people with transportation routes like these, Warden Crate said.


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