Airlines "notice of suspension", what does a fare buy, un manque flagrant d'imagination

Harry Gow, Transport Action

Major flaws in leaked high speed rail report, Un retard de 30 ans, Ottawa's O-Train turns 10, trunk and feeder and more in today's Transport Action Canada Hotline.

Harry Gow, C'est faible, c'est médiocre, un manque flagrant d'imagination ! 

« Selon une récente étude commandée par le fédéral, l'Ontario et le Québec, un train à grande vitesse (TGV) entre Windsor et Toronto coûterait trop cher à construire et serait déficitaire. Le cofondateur du groupe Transport Action, Harry Gow, ne mâche pas ses mots. Pour lui ce n'est qu'une autre des nombreuses études effectuées depuis une vingtaine d'années, par des experts dont il remet en doute la compétence » Gérard Malo a rapporté pour SRC Ontario le 18 octobre 2011.

« C'est faible, c'est médiocre, un manque flagrant d'imagination ! Ce sont des gens qui n'ont pas apparemment la profondeur dans la science des trains à grande vitesse » dit Gow, SRC a rapporté.

High-speed rail to Windsor feasible, Transport Action says

"The report favours a major spending commitment between Toronto to Montreal, but determined similar rail investments leading into Windsor would be a major financial drain," Dave Battagello wrote for the Windsor Star.

“Transport Action Canada, a national group that promotes sustainable transportation and believes railway service should be expanded.… the group’s vice-president Justin Bur (said): “It’s pretty obvious there is high travel demand in the entire corridor. For me the message here is the project is not well understood. The focus of this study was narrow and it shows how nobody doing this understands how (high-speed rail) can be helpful. There was an inability to understand this is a possibility to make it easier to cross the border, that such a service will make travel more fluid in general,” the Windsor Star reported.

Transport Action in Fredericton,  NB ADM on interurban and rural services 

The Fall Board meeting of Transport Action Atlantic will be held beginning Oct. 29 at 10:00 at the office of the Conservation Council of NB, 180 St. John Street, downtown Fredericton. All members are welcome.

The afternoon presentations, which are open to the public, will be by the Conservation Council at 13:45 and by New Brunswick's Assistant Deputy Minister of Transport at 14:30. Key issues to be discussed are interurban and rural bus services in the Maritimes and threats to VIA Rail's Ocean service, especially on the "North Shore" of N.B.

Transport 2000,  A train for the new Champlain

"Notably absent from the federal government’s announcement last month that a new Champlain Bridge will indeed be built was a definitive plan for a public-transit link on the projected span. The news this week is that provincial authorities are working on a plan to put a train on the new bridge as part of a 13-kilometre transit system that would link the South Shore to downtown Montreal. The Agence métropolitaine de transport, which is conducting the study, is weighing two options: a light-rail transit system and a higher-capacity automated rapid transit system like Vancouver’s SkyTrain," the Montreal Gazette reported in an Oct. 18 editorial.

"What is certain is that public transit will have to be a prime consideration in the configuration of the new bridge. Plans available so far call for four lanes in each direction, with at least one for public transit. Some, such as transit advocacy group Transport 2000, call for splitting the number of lanes equally between cars and public transit, with two in each direction for cars, one each way for rail and another each way for buses and carpooling. Either way, the objective should be to move the maximum number of people across the bridge in a minimum amount of time,"  the Montreal Gazette editorial said.

Porter Airlines grounding threat, What is the test for public disclosure?  Transport Action asks

Transport Canada's threat to ground Porter Airlines in 2008 for not complying with air safety rules was in fact a "minor concern" with the company's quality control in inspection services, Transport Minister Denis Lebel said Tuesday. Facing questions from the NDP about the government's refusal to disclose what the concern was that led Transport Canada to issue the warning, Lebel did an about-face in the House of Commons by disclosing some details the government had until now refused to share," Sarah Schmidt reported for Postmedia News.

Consumer advocate Gerry Einarsson chairs Transport Action's Air Passenger Safety Group and represents the organization on Transport Canada's Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council. He said the issue of public disclosure was raised in the early days of SMS — given that the system relies on employees to come forward with any issues. (Einarsson said:) "There was no guidance offered about how serious it has to be before the public has the right to find out about it," Postmedia News reported on Oct. 18.

 Turnstiles on Edmonton LRT not worth the cost 

"Although installing turnstiles at Edmonton LRT stations would cut down on free rides, the devices still aren't worth the expense, according to a city report.The LRT now operates on a proofof-payment system, in which there are no barriers and security officers randomly check passengers to ensure they've bought a ticket or pass," Nicki Thomas wrote for the Edmonton Journal on Oct. 17.  "Will the turnstiles be worth the cost in Vancouver?" Transport Action BC's Matthew Buchanan tweeted.

$737 million in fees, What does a basic fare get you Transport Action asks? 

"The 2011 estimates for ancillary fee revenue, released Wednesday by U.S.-based groups Amadeus North America and IdeaWorks, show four airlines in Canada taking in a total of $737 million U.S. in ancillary revenue.  (David Jeanes of Transport Action Canada said:) "The increasing number of airline-related fees and the declining level of service — or the number of things you are actually entitled to with your basic fare — is concerning people," Bradley Bouzane wrote for Postmedia News on Oct. 19.

"Certainly, a lot of passengers are concerned about the cost of taking multiple bags. It's also somewhat unfair because it's a price per bag, rather than price per weight and for older people . . . who might be travelling with smaller bags so they can handle them . . . that's a concern," Postmedia News quoted Transport Action's David Jeanes.

10th Anniversary of Ottawa’s O-Train

On October 15 2001, the O-Train in Ottawa commenced operation as a “pilot” project. Ten years later, these trains are still in operation and frequently carry 12,000 passengers per day on weekdays. Over this ten year period, these trains have carried over 18 million passengers.

At 8:15 a.m. on Friday, October 14, 2011, David Jeanes, Tim Lane, Klaus Beltzer and Bert Titcomb took part in a small event at the station at Carleton University to mark the 10th anniversary. The decision was made to hold the event at Carleton University as this is the location where the north-bound train and the south-bound train pass each other.  A large banner was held up on the east platform so that passengers arriving from either direction could view it. In addition, small pamphlets were distributed to passengers on both platforms to inform them of the occasion. Trains arriving at Carleton between 8 and 9 a.m. are packed with students heading to their classes. There is often standing room only on these trains.

On October 15 and 16, The Friends of the O-Train staffed a booth at Rail Fair, an annual event held at Algonquin College that features numerous operating layouts of model trains.  In addition, there are also numerous vendors selling a large selection of model trains, tracks, DVD’s, books, magazines, etc. Our booth featured a well-constructed model of the two end terminals of the O-Train and two operating models of the O-Train. Many visitors at the show visited our booth and showed a strong interest in light rail in Ottawa.

On October 18, OC Transpo and Bombardier Transportation held an event at Greenboro Station to mark the 10th anniversary of the O-Train. Coffee and refreshments were served from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa was present at the event. Numerous members of Transport Action also attended this event.

Transport Action message to OC Transpo, Trunk and feeder

"The core problem, the reason why the city is planning to replace the downtown Transitway with a rail tunnel, is that the two downtown arteries the city uses for buses are absolutely jammed at rush hour," David Reeveley wrote for the Ottawa Citizen on Oct. 16.

So why not do it now, some want to know. “Every outside group (OC Transpo) have engaged has recommended trunk and feeder,” says David Jeanes of Transport Action, a pro-transit lobby group. “It would greatly reduce the congestion on downtown sidewalks as well as on downtown streets. Most of the Transitway stations were originally built for trunk-and-feeder but almost never used that way,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Incremental development of a fast train network, Tony Turritin

"This $3.4 million study makes high speed rail look bad," says Transport Action Canada spokesperson, Tony Turrittin.  "It's full of faulty assumptions.  Here's a real groaner.  Because of costs, Windsor doesn't get high speed rail. But the study excluded the potential for cross-border traffic from the U.S.  That's unreal."

The most serious defect of the leaked study is its neglect of incremental development of a fast train network for Central Canada.  Instead of looking at upgrading and expanding what VIA Rail already has, the study exclusively focuses on the most expensive system of ultra-high speed trains that require an all new right-of-way, Transport Action Canada reported on Oct. 16.

Un retard de 30 ans, Paul Langan 

« Le Canada accuse 30 ans de retard comparé au reste du monde moderne en matière de transport ferroviaire, dénonce Paul Langan, fondateur de High Speed Rail Canada. M. Langan souligne que l'actuel corridor Ontario-Québec de Via Rail fonctionne très lentement, sur les mêmes voies que les trains de transport de marchandises, qui ne sont pas intéressés à partager. Il espère que cette étude d'actualisation, réalisée au coût de 3,4 millions de dollars, servira d'argument pour la construction d'un train à grandevitesse au pays » Karine Gagnon a rapporté pour Le Journal de Québec le 16 octobre.

"The federal government has yet to release the study publicly. "The taxpayers have a right to see it. We have posted it on our website. Canada is 30 years behind the rest of the modern world in passenger rail. It is a national embarrassment," said Paul Langan, president of High Speed Rail Canada," Marianne White wrote for Postmedia News.

VIA Rail plan is the first step

"VIA is the only agency with any idea of how we can financially, operationally and politically build HSR. The Crown corporation even produced a blueprint to do it back in 2002, although it was sidetracked through no fault of its own. Phased in over five years, the VIAFast plan would maximize the existing infrastructure and require only 100 kilomtres of new line for the 240 km/hour express trains that would link the major centres along the entire 1,200-kilometre Quebec-Windsor corridor. Regional 160 km/hour trains would continue to serve all the intermediate points," Greg Gormick wrote for the Toronto Star on Oct. 17. 

"In 2002, VIAFast was estimated at $2.6 billion. That’s less than a fifth of the cost of the dream scheme in the current HSR study and about two-thirds of the cost of the publicly funded bridge and highway proposed for the Windsor-Detroit border crossing," Gormick wrote in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star.

Canadians split on using tolls to pay for infrastructure projects, poll suggests
Thursday, October 13, 2011

2nd Detroit-Windsor bridge plan hits a dead end in Michigan Senate
Detroit Free Press, Oct. 20, 2011 

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1136, Oct. 21, 2011
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290
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Oct. 22, Serpent River First Nation, CAPT to discuss CP demolition of its rail line from Pembroke to Mattawa

Oct. 25, Toronto, Steve Munro (ace Toronto public transit blogger) will be giving a talk with Eric Miller as part of the U of T's Cities Centre series “Toronto In Question”.

Oct. 29,  Fredericton, Transport Action Atlantic, Board meeting at the Conservation Council of N.B. at 180 Saint John St.

Nov. 12, Ottawa, Transport Action Canada, Special meeting of members, 10 Years of the O-Train, 2 pm, 211 Bronson Avenue

Nov. 22, Toronto, Transport Futures, Mobility pricing stakeholders forum