Another one bites the dust

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For 34 years, a private bus company has operated between Haliburton and Toronto.

It began under the name Can-Ar Coach, but was changed to TOK Coachlines a few years back.

Locals can catch the bus at the Shamrock Service Station in Haliburton, or flag it down at Allsaw, the Shell Service Station on Hwy. 35 in Minden, Miners Bay, Moore Falls, or Coboconk, and make their way south via Lindsay, and Bowmanville.

Initially, passengers were dropped at Bay and Front Street. Then, they were taken to Union Station. In recent times, it’s been Scarborough Town Centre or Vaughn Metropolitan Centre.

At the moment, you can catch the bus in Haliburton at 8 a.m. and be in the city for 12.30 p.m. You can return the same day at 5 p.m. and get home about 9:25 p.m. The cost is $58.50 one-way or $117 return.

For many, it’s worth it, especially if they don’t own a vehicle or hate driving to the city. In a County full of senior citizens, the ‘hate driving to the city’ contingent is large and growing.

However, TOK Coachlines announced Nov. 6 it is discontinuing the service effective Jan. 31, 2024.

A spokesperson for the company said they are not subsidized by any government body. In other words, they get no federal, provincial or municipal funding.

Turning to the Ontario government today, let’s see what they are spending money on. Hmmm, four new GTA subway projects: the Ontario Line from Exhibition Station to the Ontario Science Centre, Yonge North Subway Extension, Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. Then there’s Hamilton Light Rail Transit. Billions of dollars. And, yet, the province of Ontario cannot help out a small, private company trying to get a busload of people from Haliburton to Toronto three times a week? Shame.

I guess there are precarious seats in the GTA the Ford government wants to ensure it retains, or wins. Not much fear about Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. Dress a goat in blue and it will get elected.

I am also seeing more and more electric vehicle charging stations in Haliburton County. That’s great for the Tesla owners. Not so great for the seniors and young people who cannot afford cars. More and more we are seeing the haves and the have nots in the Highlands. Those Tesla’s are driving by as people line up for that TOK bus at the Shamrock.

So, what can be done?

Maybe MPP Laurie Scott can chat with her government about giving TOK Coachlines a helping hand. While not their mandate, maybe County council can step forward with some funds. They do have money in reserves for transport. This might provide temporary relief for the company to continue the service in the short-term.

But what is really required is a change in philosophy at the provincial government level. It must begin to consider its regional and rural residents in its decision-making. To say we are an afterthought is an understatement. We are not even a thought. And that has to change.