Airline ad law too complicated, Whirlpool Bridge

More resources for transit, less for roads, Transport Action Atlantic says

Transport Action Canada, Hotline 1123, July 15, 2011

"With bus passenger numbers continuing to plunge in New Brunswick, people who support public transportation are calling upon the David Alward government to do something before the service between communities goes extinct. … The plunge in bus ridership worries David Coon, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. Earlier this week, he called upon Premier David Alward to make good on last year's election pledge to create a commission that would work on providing convenient and affordable public transportation throughout the province. … Coon said.  "Public transportation infrastructure isn't something you create overnight. It has to be done over a long period of time, in phases'," John Chilibeck wrote for the Moncton Times & Transcript, on July 14, 2011.

Michael Perry has a simple solution. The vice-president of the non-profit group Transport Action Atlantic said the province should redirect money from big highway projects to public transportation. "It has to be a subsidy," said the native of Hampshire, England, who now lives in St. Andrews. "I can think of no public transportation system in the world that really works solely by making a profit." Citing a U.S. federal study, Perry said it costs about $3.5 million for every mile of new highway, the equivalent of $2.2 million for every kilometre. "Subsidizing bus service is relatively cheap compared to road building." Perry believes by ignoring public transportation issues, the province is hurting itself economically. One of the reasons young, rural New Brunswickers leave the province, he insists, is lack of public transportation," the Moncton Times & Transcript reported.

Airport added to Phase 2 Winnipeg Rapid Transit

"The Winnipeg Free Press reports  a route change to phase 2 of the RT system is being planned.  The original route was along the CN right-of-way south from the Jubilee overpass to the U of M, but now a jag of several miles west and then south-east  is being considered," Peter Lacey, vice president of Transport Action, reports.

"The rationale is that the areas that would be served are undeveloped and that an LRT would greatly encourage commercial development.  Transit advocates have always used this as an argument for LRT over BRT and it is true; but the BRT was all about transit, not development.  (Although given this announcement, the selection of the route in phase 1 now makes more sense, going as it does through empty acreage for about half its length).

"One part of the announcement is to do with additional routes: one of these goes to the airport from Polo Park.  This is the first mention of the airport that I've seen in all these plans," Transport Action's Peter Lacey reports. For more information see the report by Bartley Kives, Winnipeg  Free Press of July 14, 2011. 

Full-disclosure airline ad law too complicated, Ottawa says

"The federal government is signalling that a law passed four years ago  requiring airlines to advertise the full price of airfares could be too complicated to enact," Sarah Schmidt reported for Postmedia News on June 27.

"Legislation to update key sections of the Canada Transportation Act, including a requirement that airlines include all the extra fees, surcharges and taxes in airfare ads, became law in June 2007 with the support of all political parties. But a last-minute amendment in the Senate stipulated the new advertising rules were to come into effect on a date set by the federal cabinet. "After four years, the Conservative government has yet to do so, and no  projected timeline has been established for the cabinet to set a date," Sarah Schmidt reported for Postmedia News.

Airline prices too complicated to advertise ?

Gerry Einarsson, who represents Transport Action on the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council, writes: "I recently booked air fare to Las Vegas, and every service I used was able to quote total fares – EXCEPT Air Canada, which would only total up the fare if you planned it all out using them.  To compare other options was simply too time consuming for me, so I signed with an American airline that was much easier to use online.

It’s costing them money, not earning them more money I suspect (hope).

Gee, I wonder if I could submit my taxes using my own somewhat complicated unwieldy and totally unique layout would be similarly OK with them, rather than everyone having to use a common form which places the taxpayer at a disadvantage as the government can too easily compare one against the other to the taxpayer’s disadvantage," Gerry Einarsson writes.

Aviation Safety News, Transport Canada safety side-steps

Aviation Safety News is a project of Transport Action Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Public Interest Advocacy Centre monitors aviation legislation. PIAC has standing before the Canadian Transportation Agency and the courts. Transport Action Canada is represented on the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council. The Aviation Safety News readers’ group includes top aviation safety authorities, industry and civil service professionals.

This issue covers reports by journalists on Cougar Helicopters Flight 491 Sikorsky S-92A helicopters, Continental Connection Flight 3407, Swissair Flight 111  aircraft wiring and Air France Flight 447 pilots made a series of mistakes.  The issue includes calls on Transport Canada by the Transportation Safety Board for action on long-standing safety initiatives and a report on Transport Canada's legal strategy of last minute out-of-court settlements in liability cases.

The City of Ottawa moves downtown transit tunnel, Better but …

"Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the original route for the tunnel would have put the project over the $2.1-billion estimate. The new route means crews won't have to dig as deep, and trains will only be four storeys underground, instead of 12. David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada, says the new plan is a great improvement for passengers because they won't have to go as far underground.  However, he's still concerned (about how) the tunnel will go under the Rideau Canal," reported on July 7.

O-Train service expansion a slam dunk, but about selling current O-Trains

"A proposal to expand O-Train service at a meeting of the city’s transit committee on June 15 turned into a debate over the merits of keeping the trains the city already owns. That idea was planted by David Jeanes, the president of advocacy group Transport Action Canada, who told commissioners to support the expansion – but rethink the need to sell the trains. (Jeanes said) “Three trains we have are worth more to us in the future than the $3 million we may be able to get from them in the future,” Your Ottawa Region reported on June 23.  "A report on the possible further expansion of the O-train line south to Leitrim Road will be coming to the transit commission in the fall."

A Silk Road for the 21st century: Freight rail linking China and Germany 

The freight rail across Eurasia officially launched on Thursday night, with a cargo train leaving on its journey from Chongqing to Duisburg, Germany, filled with laptops and LCD screens scheduled to arrive in Europe two weeks after leaving China. The 11,179 kilometers long track will be running through the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Poland, before finally reaching Germany," reported on July 4.

"Even though the railway track itself has already existed for over a decade, it is only now that the railway could be put into operation, due to complicated customs checks and issues with cargo transfer logistics. This changed last year, when China signed a strategic agreement with Russia and Kazakhstan to open the new freight route. The country is trying to build the inland labor-rich municipality into an international high-tech hub, especially for laptops. Foxconn, the world's biggest contract electronics supplier, Acer, Taiwan's leading computer maker, and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are already in place in Chongqing to produce laptops," reported.

BC comes up with $7.5 million for the 225 kilometre Victoria to Courtenay rail line

"Premier Christy Clark pledged Tuesday to help get the E&N Rail line back on track by announcing $7.5 million in provincial funding toward track improvements. But the money is conditional. An inspection of bridges along the line must be completed and the federal government must give similar funding," Bill Cleverly wrote for the Victoria Times Colonist on June 28.

The 130-year-old track, which runs 225 kilometres from Victoria to Courtenay, is seen by some as a key transportation corridor and the possible site of a commuter rail service in Greater Victoria. Graham Bruce, Island Corridor Foundation executive director, said if the federal contribution is announced soon, passenger service could resume by mid-October.Island Conservative MPs James Lunney and John Duncan have been attempting to secure federal funding," the Times Colonist reported. 

Petit train à vapeur va... nulle part

« Si on s'entend tous sur le rôle essentiel que joue le Train à vapeur Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield dans l'industrie touristique de l'Outaouais, dans quelle mesure faut-il s'acharner pour le remettre sur rail à tout prix ? La question se pose, car la solidité des rails de nombreuses portions du trajet a été affectée par l'érosion des sols à la suite des pluies de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Comme le gouvernements se sont déjà cotisés à hauteur de 6 millions de dollars, en 2008, à la suite de glissements de terrain, il ne faudrait pas s'étonner qu'ils se fassent tirer l'oreille pour allonger d'autres millions » Pierre Bergeron a écrit pour Le Droit le 9 juillet.

« Il faut donc en profiter pour se poser de sérieuses questions sur la viabilité économique du train et mettre sur la table toutes les options sans exception. On répare et on continue. On ferme la voie et on transforme le tout en infrastructure cyclable. On refait la voie une fois pour toutes (sic) et on greffe du transport de banlieue dans la mesure où les perspectives de rentabilité sont au rendez-vous. On change la destination, direction Montebello par exemple, sans oublier que l'on est en train (sic) d'arracher les rails dans la zone urbaine pour la construction du Rapibus » Pierre Bergeron a écrit pour Le Droit.

Wakefield tourism is taking a hit after the Wakefield Steam Train shuts down

Transport Action's Chris Holloway reports: "There were seven washouts along the rail line many of them serious when the storm occurred around the St Jean Baptiste weekend. An engineering review is under way and the CCFO, the company that leases the line, could well be looking at repair costs which could run anywhere from $2M to $4M.  Until now, governments at various levels have invested huge sums because of the tremendous potential for the generation of tourist dollars with the train operating in the local economy.  The money injection in 2008 was seen as a long term investment.  Indeed, while we have recently been witness to major damage in the area from atypical storms and similar weather disturbances, it also is important to recall that even though the HCW rail line has gone through several repairs to the rail bed, these repairs in some cases were not entirely complete.  Additional stone and tamping of the bed were required in many sections for it to be completely sound and solid in the long run.

The Ottawa Citizen reported: "The train’s annual economic impact is about $10 million for the region, said Gilles Picard, director general of Outaouais Tourism. He said he estimates the train contributes to 40 per cent of Wakefield business during summer months. But he said the tourism department won’t know until the end of the season how much impact the loss of the train actually had. “They bring up to 55,000 people a year, I mean you’ve got to get some business off of that,” said Lesley Farrell who owns the End of the Line Boutique, which caters to passengers getting off the train.

Montreal, Ottawa, Return Transportation to the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario

North Glengarry Prescott & Russell Transport Board excursions are available this year to the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville on Saturday July 30th. The return service will be running from Ottawa and from Montreal.

Transports aller-retour aux Jeux Glengarry Highland à Maxville, Ontario

La Commission de Transport Glengarry-nord Prescott & Russell offre des excursions encore cette année pour assister aux Jeux Glengarry Highland à Maxville (Ontario) le samedi 30 juillet. Des services aller-retour seront offerts au départ d’Ottawa et de Montréal.

Toronto-New York passenger rail connection in jeopardy, Whirlpool Bridge

High Speed Rail Canada reports: "Perhaps the most chilling example of our archaic Canadian passenger rail system is the current debacle facing the Amtrak The Maple Leaf train that runs from Toronto to New York. … It seemed like in the USA, passenger rail renewal on this line was hopeful. President Obama is reinvesting in passenger rail including a dedicated third track for passenger rail in the Albany – Buffalo corridor part of the Toronto – New York route. The City of Niagara Falls New York was building a new International Railway Station. They are very supportive of continued use of passenger rail service between Canada and the USA

"Now circumstances in the USA and Canada have put passenger rail service through the Niagara Falls border on a lifeline.  The Niagara Bridge Commission owns the Whirlpool Bridge that has a single track crossing that The Maple Leaf runs on.  CN has the rights to run trains on the bridge. It has not run freight traffic over the bridge in several years and now has decided unilaterally to abandon the bridge and offer the track for sale at an unknown cost.

"The Niagara Bridge Commission is charging a fee for passenger rail operators that want to continue to run a service over the bridge. Sources who want to remain private have stated that the fees the Commission is charging Amtrak to run on the bridge are extremely high. VIA Rail is doing its usual “duck and cover routine” on this issue and are doing nothing to keep the passenger rail service intact on this line. On the Canadian side, the Progressive Conservation Federal Government under Prime Minister Harper has not taken any actions to address the issues relating to purchasing the track over the bridge and negotiating a fair price for usage of the bridge. This failure by our government may result in the final nail in the coffin for Ontario/USA passenger trains. Non action by our Canadian federal government will result in the abandonment of cross passenger rail service at Niagara Falls," Paul Langan wrote for High Speed Rail Canada  on July 14, 2011.