Shoot the transit boss, Kingston et les rail voyageurs

The government may privatize the Canadian,
Via Rail's classic transcontinental train service.
(Photo, Steve Boyko
Le Colloque ferroviaire annuel du Québec, people or planes in Pickering, Halifax transit, Kalamazoo, New Zealand makes the case for Via Rail and more in today's Transport Action Hotline.

Peter Lacey, Manitoba could join Minnesota in 175-km/h rail link that could better exploit tourism potential

"Anyone wishing to travel between Winnipeg and the Twin Cities have in recent years had but two choices: fly or drive. Overnight train service vanished in the late 1960s and Greyhound abandoned the route a few years back. Unlike most Canada-U.S. pairings of major cities, there is no direct ground transport between them. But there could be if Canada wanted to make common cause with Minnesota to build a high-speed rail link from Winnipeg through Duluth to Minneapolis," Transport Action Canada vice president Peter Lacey and Jeff Lowe wrote for the Winnipeg Free Press on Feb. 18.

"On Sept. 2, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the Minnesota Department of Transportation would receive $5 million to complete initial engineering and environmental reviews for the project. The grant comes from the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program, which has on two previous occasions awarded $2.2 million and $500,000 for preliminary work on the line. MNDOT has committed to providing $3 million of state funds. While minuscule compared to the eventual costs of the completed project, the commitments attest to the seriousness with which it is being explored. This should be food for thought on Broadway and Main Street, and for all interested in the challenges and opportunities of intercity mass transport," the Winnipeg Free Press op-ed said.

David Jeanes, Public transit chiefs take the fall

"In a 24-hour span during which Gary Webster, the chief general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission, and Alain Mercier, general manager of Ottawa’s OC Transpo, were let go, the experts say the firings say as much about the politicians who did the them as the public servants who were shown the door. It is easy for politicians to point fingers at others to deflect blame," Mohammed Adam wrote for the Ottawa Citizen on Feb. 22.

"David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada, formerly Transport 2000, said Mercier’s tenure was marked by so many problems and controversy that it may have done him irreparable damage. Jeanes said it doesn’t matter that some of the major problems were not his doing. “Alain Mercier has been here for six years; he’s worked hard, it is unfortunate though that people will remember a lot of the bad things that happened when he was general manager,” Jeanes said. “There have been so many problems, and it may not have been all his fault. But whether it is his fault or not, it is his legacy,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Le Colloque ferroviaire, Les 23 kiosques qui seront sur place

Le Colloque ferroviaire annuel du Québec des 28 et 29 mars 2012. Le programme est maintenant disponible sur notre site Web, onglet colloque Durant le mercredi du colloque ferroviaire du Québec, s’y tiendra la onzième activité de fournisseurs de matériel ferroviaire. Les 23 kiosques qui seront sur place seront … 1-Transports Canada, 2-Pandrol Canada Ltd., 3-Raildirect Inc., 4-Béton Provincial, 5-X-Rail signalisation inc., 6-Invensys Rail Corp., 7-Services ferroviaires CANAC inc., 8-Industrie Atlantic ltée., 9-Harsco Track Technologies (Harsco Rail), 10-SEL Warwick, 11-Delom Services, 12-Avery Weigh-Tronix, 13-Les Industries WAJAX inc., 14-All-Rail, 15-J. Lanfranco, systèmes de fixation inc., 16-Les Consultants CANARAIL inc., 17-Falcon Shuttle Rail Inc., 18-KWP Pipe, 18-Soleno Inc., 19-DAVANAC inc., 20-Railwel Canada, 21-NDT Technologies et, 22-Musée ferroviaire de la Beauce (le kiosque No. 18 représente deux compagnies).

John Pearce, Halifax needs to increase population density and discourage greater urban sprawl

On Feb. 20 Halifax Chronicle Herald columnist Roger Taylor reported on the Halifax transit strike. He wrote: "John Pearce, a director with Transport Action Atlantic, says his organization doesn’t want to interfere in labour disputes but it believes transit is an essential service for all and hopes a settlement will be reached soon. He is applauding, at the very least, the fact the Access-A-Bus service for disabled people who don’t have any other option for getting around was restarted on a limited basis Monday with managers behind the wheel.

"While he doesn’t believe the city has completely failed when it comes to transit, Pearce says it could be doing more to promote transit, even if it means making driving a car more inconvenient. For example, in Montreal, he says, the city charges a tax on shopping malls based on the number of parking spaces in their lots. Pearce says Halifax also needs to increase population density and discourage greater urban sprawl. The introduction of a well-managed commuter rail system could also help the city reduce the number of vehicles in the urban core," Roger Taylor wrote for the  Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Louis-François Garceau, 23 groups will display their wares at the Quebec Railway Symposium  

"The Annual Railway Symposium in Quebec will be held March 28-29. The program is now available (French) on our site," Louis-François Garceau reports for TRAQ.

"During the Wednesday of the Quebec Railway Symposium, will also be held the eleventh RAILSHOW of Railway Suppliers. Here are the 23 booth and their names … 1-Transport Canada, 2-Pandrol Canada Ltd., 3-Raildirect Inc., 4-Béton Provincial, 5-X-Rail signalisation inc., 6-Invensys Rail Corp., 7-Services ferroviaires CANAC inc., 8-Industrie Atlantic ltée., 9-Harsco Track Technologies (Harsco Rail), 10-SEL Warwick, 11-Delom Services, 12-Avery Weigh-Tronix, 13-Les Industries WAJAX inc., 14-All-Rail, 15-J. Lanfranco, systèmes de fixation inc., 16-Les Consultants CANARAIL inc., 17-Falcon Shuttle Rail Inc., 18-KWP Pipe, 18-Soleno Inc., 19-DAVANAC inc., 20-Railwel Canada, 21-NDT Technologies and 22-Musée ferroviaire de la Beauce (Booth #-18 represent two companies)," Louis-François Garceau reports.

New Zealand, The case for Via Rail

"The New Zealand rail network was destroyed by political short-sightedness and a disastrous stint in private ownership that cost New Zealand taxpayers billions of dollars. The Kiwis have now started to reinvest in regional and long-distance rail rather than encouraging car dependent urban sprawl and gridlock. However the damage inflicted over the years will be expensive to repair but a visit to Wellington shows what can be done with electrification and modern rolling stock. Long distance trains draw tourists and regular passengers. People who travel on VIA realise what an asset it is - no standing passengers, "real" business class service, few, if any louts and environmentally friendly. The fare levels are about half of those charged in the UK for a similar distance and on-line bookings are straightforward. The Harper government is looking a gift-horse with a future right in the mouth. All it needs is better marketing," Ken Westcar reported on Feb. 12.

Barry Wellar, OC Transpo like a sports team that doesn’t win

"Barry Wellar, an urban transportation planning expert and professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa ... says Webster, a highly competent 37-year veteran of the TTC, was fired because he disagreed fundamentally with Mayor Rob Ford over the direction of the transit system. The mayor didn’t like what he was hearing from his senior adviser on transit and Webster paid a political price. Wellar says Mercier, whose track record was more controversial, was no less a victim of the politics of the day than Webster. OC Transpo has had three heads in a little over 13 years. One lasted less than a year, and Wellar says that reflects an “element of instability” that the politicians, who act as the board of directors, must take responsibility for. If Mercier wasn’t up to the job, why was he hired? Why is there such a revolving door of senior managers at OC Transpo? Like the sports team that is underperforming, the diagnosis must go beyond the role of the coach," Mohammed Adam wrote for the Ottawa Citizen on Feb. 22.

"Wellar believes part of the problem in a city like Ottawa is that the policies behind public transit often make the operation difficult to manage. For instance, at the same time Ottawa is headlining transit, it is also sprawling, and managing transit in a sprawling city leads to conflicting decisions and choices. “This goes right back to the politicians. Whatever has gone wrong is not all Mercier’s fault. He becomes the fall guy but the elected politicians are also at fault,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

The case for Via Rail, The future is now for Chicago to Kalamazoo

"On Wednesday, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo joined Michigan DOT and Amtrak officials to ride the train between Chicago and Kalamazoo.  And this was no ordinary ride. It marked the beginning of 110 miles-per-hour service between these two cities and the first expansion of regional high-speed rail outside the Northeast Corridor," Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation reported on Feb. 17, 2012.

"This increase in speed will cut 10 to 20 minutes from travel times along this segment of the line alone. And that's just the beginning. Within the next three years, Amtrak will expand 110 miles-per-hour service from Kalamazoo to the central and eastern regions of Michigan. Once complete, the modernized service will cut nearly two hours from the Detroit-Chicago run," the US cabinet member wrote.

People or Planes, Grassroots Pickering group marks forty years

"An anniversary event will be held on Friday, March 2, starting at 10 a.m., at the main intersection of the hamlet of Brougham. (For those of you in Toronto: Brougham is at the easternmost end of Hwy 407; turn left at Brock Road and you're there). Things will start with the church bells ringing, just as the bells at Melody Farm, a little north of Brougham, summoned everyone to the first meeting of People or Planes on the day the airport was announced, in March, 1972," People or Planes reports.

There will be street theatre -- a salute to the parades and processions of the Seventies -- and lots more, but with a 2012 slant. We will show that all kinds of people, from all walks of life, remain opposed to an airport here and want this top-grade farmland saved for food production and the preservation of natural heritage. Please join us, help swell our ranks, and get the message across loud and clear that we are not a fringe group or a dreaded "special interest group"; we are the people -- as in People or Planes. We have a vision of what the Lands could be: not a polluting airport but a thriving farming community, protected from urban development, offering a secure food source for the GTA," People or Planes reports.

Transport Action Ontario has written the Minister of Transportation asking him not to overlook alternatives to the proposed Pickering Airport. The organization suggests passenger rail service is a more practical alternative for serving Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal travellers.

The case for Via Rail, Kingston 

Transport Action's John Pearce reports highlights from Via Rail President and CEO Marc Laliberté's speech Feb. 14 speech to Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce include: "From Kingston travel distances are under 2 hour to Ottawa, under 3 to Montreal and Toronto.  Kingston is the 5th busiest station in Canada today and on a per capita basis has one of the highest service level in the country."

Pearce reports Via Rail's boss said: "In 2012 look for: Faster, reliable service with outstanding OT performance. VIA is investing $400 million to upgrade the tracks in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle. Work on the Kingston subdivision will be completed by the end of 2012. Last month we introduced a new schedule that shortens trip times and we will be introduce more schedule improvements later this year. Track improvements give us more flexibility to schedule trains and even add new services where demand warrants. The schedule improvements we introduced last month will attract some 100,000 more customers to passenger rail annually. This gives more passengers, thus more revenue so we can keep improving service in the future."

Marc Laliberté, Kingston et les rail voyageurs 

"Que ce soit pour les voyages effectués par les travailleurs, les touristes ou les étudiants, vous êtes situés en plein centre du marché de VIA le plus important et le plus achalandé. D’ailleurs, la banlieue de Kingston ne se trouve qu’à deux heures de train d’Ottawa. Montréal et Toronto sont à moins de trois heures. Il s’agit du type de marché interville où le rail voyageurs surpasse tout autre mode de transport," Marc Laliberté président de Via Rail a dit dans un discours à Kingston, le 14 février 201

"Il n’est pas étonnant que votre gare voyageurs soit aujourd’hui la 5e plus achalandée au pays et celle où l’on retrouve au Canada les plus hauts taux de service de VIA par habitant. Nous avons hâte d’accroître nos activités commerciales avec vous. Et j’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer que c’est précisément ce que nous allons faire en 2012," Marc Laliberté a dit.

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1154, Feb. 24, 2012
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290
RSS: feed://


March 6, 7pm to 9 pm, New Westminster, Transport Action BC, Waves Coffee shop, 715 Columbia St., near the New Westminster SkyTrain station

28 et 29 mars, Québec. TRAQ, Le Colloque ferroviaire annuel du Québec

le 1 avril, Charny, L’assemblée générale annuelle du Groupe TRAQ aura lieu au 104-5314, avenue des Belles-Amours coin Maréchal-Joffre,

April 1, Charny, AGM Groupe TRAQ, 104-5314, avenue des Belles-Amours

April 21, Toronto, Transport Action Ontario Annual General Meeting, Metro Hall, Toronto, 55 John St., Room 303. 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Business meeting and election of officers. Afternoon program: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. tba.

les 26 et 27 avril, Granby, Le Colloque 2012 de l'Association des Transports collectifs ruraux du Québec (ATCRQ) se tiendra à Hôtel Spa et Confort à Granby, Québec