Community groups, municipal, and business leaders from across Southwestern Ontario are uniting around a vision of integrated public transit and transport for the region.
Meeting at London City Hall, on Thursday July 24, the South Western Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA) formalized its mission and vision statement, and agreed to work together towards these shared goals.
Our Vision Is: An integrated, sustainable, passenger transportation system for Southwestern Ontario securing the prosperity of our communities; connecting citizens to centres of excellence in education, healthcare and innovation; connecting to adjacent regional networks; and feeding into a fast, reliable, well-serviced Chicago–Quebec City corridor.
SWOTA President Terry Johnson explained the impetus behind the organization: “Cuts to our regional transport services in 2010 saved the treasury tiny amounts of money while seriously damaging the economic prospects of many of our communities at a time when the recession was already taking its toll. However, relatively small investments, and better coordination of existing services to improve user friendliness, can pay tremendous economic and social dividends in an underserved region like ours. We want to help build the business case for investment and political awareness of regional needs.”
Strong community advocacy by the groups involved in SWOTA is already bringing about positive changes. Rail Advocacy in Lambton (RAIL) recently secured a train schedule change that makes journeys through London to Branford and Toronto 45 minutes faster for people travelling from Sarnia.
SWOTA will work closely with the Southwest Economic Alliance, and covers the same geographic region west of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, from Wellington County to Essex.