Ontario Lawmakers Want VIA Service Increased

Several Ontario lawmakers are pushing VIA Rail Canada to increase frequency of service on its route between Sudbury and White River.

VIA currently service the remote region with weekly Rail Diesel Car service.

The legislators said the paltry level of service creates a hardship for residents of areas not accessible by road.

Service had been tri-weekly but was reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The six members of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament said in a letter to VIA CEO Cynthia Garneau that their constituents must spend a week in a hotel in Sudbury when they travel for groceries and other supplies, arriving on Sunday and not being able to return until Saturday.

In the other direction, those with guesthouses along the route cannot book guests on consecutive weeks, since guests must currently arrive on Saturday and leave on Sunday.

The lawmakers said adding two additional weekly roundtrips would “instantly improve our constituent’s quality of life.”

In an unrelated development, VIA said this week it will furlough 1,000 unionized employees due to the effects of the pandemic.

Garneau said in a statement that the furloughs, which she said would be temporary, are being undertaken due to a continuing financial crisis at VIA triggered by reduced business during the pandemic.

The statement said VIA will seek to recall the workers to their jobs as soon as customer demand allows.

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