From twinning to tolls, to ferries to rails, transportation talks were front and centre in Moncton on Saturday as Transport Action Atlantic held its annual general meeting.

Officials say part of the problem in the vehicle-dependent Atlantic provinces is poor planning. In a region that also has a large rural population, sustainable, government-subsidized public transportation is necessary.

“The sprawl that happens around some of our larger municipalities often creates a situation where it's functionally impossible to provide public transportation,” says Ashley Morton, vice-president of Transport Action Atlantic. “At that point, people are always going to drive their cars because there's no other efficient way to go.”

New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon says now is the time for the Maritime provinces to move forward and jointly commit to a public transportation service.

“There's tremendous opportunity here for co-operation among the Maritime premiers to steer the development of a regional transportation network, regional public transportation network, that would really serve the population well,” says Coon.

Coon says part of the problem, at least in New Brunswick, is that public transportation is overlooked by the provincial government.

“No one within the government has the responsibility for public transportation. It's not anyone's turf,” says Coon.

The topic of tolls also came up. Transport Action Atlantic president Ted Bartlett says they're a must because the gas tax isn't enough to fund the construction and maintenance of highways and roads.

“Users of any mode of transportation should be paying for the privilege, so if people want better and safer highways, they better be prepared to pay,” Bartlett says.

Coon too supports tolled highways, campaigning on pay highways at provincial border crossings.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.