LONDON, Ont. -- There will soon be a new commuter connection between London and Sarnia, with stops in Mount Brydges and Strathroy.

A new bus service, running Monday to Friday, could be in place by the spring.

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton announced a two-year, $1.45M provincial commitment to the project at the Strathroy-Caradoc Municipal Offices on Thursday morning.

"This is truly part of economic development and creating a stronger local economy."

The province has dedicated $30M over five years to intercommunity bus services, with Strathroy-Caradoc one of 39 municipalities being funded by the province.

Strathroy-Caradoc Deputy Mayor Brad Richards says the service will open up new opportunities, "I mean Toronto's not impossible now. They could catch a train in London. I can't tell you how important this is for our area."

Richards believes this service will benefit a number of communities along the Highway 402 corridor. Places like Watford, Petrolia and Glencoe, that would benefit from easy access to the bus.

The plan is for stops in London, Mount Brydges, Strathroy and Sarnia. Officials say there are hundreds of people who struggle to find rides for medical appointments that could now use this service.

The focus is also on people who travel for work, and on students.

An ongoing concern in rural areas is students and young families who move out to find opportunities elsewhere, never to return.

McNaughton says this will strengthen all the communities along the corridor, "This really is about helping those people get connected. And that's what transportation networks do, they connect communities."

Strathroy-Caradoc officials say they're still reviewing expressions of interest from carrier companies. The plan is to use accessible shuttles that can carry 10 to 24 people.

The other unknown is cost, but Strathroy-Caradoc Economic Development Officer Demetri Makrakos says keeping fares low is a priority.

"We're trying to make this as affordable as possible, so it is used. So we're not trying to gouge the users. It won't be free, but it won't be a lot of money."

No officials from London or Sarnia were on hand for the announcement.

Reached by phone, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says he supports the plan but believes keeping travel times as short as possible will be important to the plan’s success.

Bradley says a one-way trip between Sarnia and London should take no more than an hour-and-a-half.