About the survey

From October 23 to November 20, 2020, more than 7,200 people, including 8.3% of respondents that self-identified as Indigenous, shared their feedback about transportation opportunities along the rail corridor between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane.

We are planning for a better multi-modal transportation system along the rail corridor, including improvements to bus and train service in the region.

Your feedback will help:

  • inform our future transportation plan for Northern Ontario that will support economic development and keep people and goods moving in the region
  • find opportunities to improve the current transportation system along the rail corridor between Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane/Timmins 
  • understand needs and travel patterns along the corridor, including the purpose of trips, mode of transportation, frequency of travel and preferences for departure times, train frequency, travel time and costs

What we heard

Regional travel behaviour

When asked about long-distance travel between communities before COVID-19:

  • 83% identified that they drove, and 67% identified themselves as a passenger
  • 31% travelled by coach/bus, and 27% used commercial airlines

When asked about travel to their furthest destination:

  • 40% of respondents said visiting friends or family was the main reason they travelled
  • 23% said holidays, leisure or recreation
  • 22% of those aged 55 and over reported medical appointments as their main reason, compared to 9% for those 54 and under
  • 77% indicated that they were accompanied by at least one other adult or child when travelling
  • 43% indicated that they stayed overnight with friends or family, and 9% indicated that they returned the same day
  • travel frequencies varied by season, with 83% of respondents traveling in summer and 59% in winter

Transportation options

We asked respondents about their satisfaction, challenges and concerns with using different transportation modes for long-distance travel:

  • Highways: 51% reported being satisfied with driving or being a passenger of a personal vehicle on highways, and 15% reported being dissatisfied
  • Intercommunity bus: 42% reported being satisfied with using coach or bus, and 29% reported dissatisfaction
  • Air: 58% reported satisfaction using commercial air
    • 46.5% of respondents living near Timmins/Cochrane reported traveling along the corridor by commercial air in the last 2 years

When asked if they would use a future rail service with an option to depart once a day and costs equivalent to intercommunity bus, 69% of respondents indicated an interest in trying it.

Use of Northeastern rail in the past

From 1976 to 2012, passenger rail service was operated along the corridor to connect Toronto to North Bay, Cochrane and many communities, including Indigenous communities in between. We asked respondents about their experience using the Northlander service in its last two years of operation:

  • 56% of respondents said they used the previous service, of which 41% rode it once or twice, and 40% rode it a few times a year
  • of the 8.3% of respondents that self-identified as Indigenous, 69% reported riding the previous Northlander service

When asked for reasons why they used the Northlander service:

  • 66% indicated to work, read or entertain themselves while traveling
  • 63% identified concerns traveling in winter road conditions
  • 50% indicated a preference for travel by train
  • 49% indicated a desire to avoid road traffic
  • 36% disliked driving for long-distances

Of the 44% of respondents that did not make use of the Northlander in its last two years of operation:

  • 38% indicated that the departure hours were not a good fit with their schedule
  • 17% indicated travel time was too long
  • 15% indicated ticket fares were too high
  • 15% indicated the travel time was unreliable

Next steps

We thank respondents for sharing their valuable insights to help improve transportation along the corridor between Toronto, North Bay and Timmins/Cochrane.

Your feedback will help us continue to explore options to reintroduce passenger rail service along the rail corridor and help guide efforts to improve the transportation system in northeastern Ontario.