Expand VIA Rail don't cut it, Via pourrait réduire ses services

Laval's public transit system offers
$1.00 fares on smog alert days.
Toronto's does not.
(Toronto Star photo)
Provide rail passenger service to all communities on mainlines, Velo-City 2012, La STL baissera ses tarifs de 67%, CAPT supports Via Rail et plus in this week's
Transport Action Hotline. 

No answers at VIA rail meeting

The Via Rail Annual Public Meeting on May 29  was quite polite and predictable, Transport Action's Peter Lacey reports. "Via Rail CEO Marc Laliberte is obviously very politically talented. Three direct questions were put to him:
Q: nothing has been said about Western services.  a: we're repairing and upgrading 12 cars.
Q: what about service through Regina, Calgary, Banff  a: it's not up to VIA to look into such services. 
Q: the rumour is that there will be 2 trains cut from the Canadian and hundreds of us will lose our jobs.  A: that sort of decision would be preceded by an announcement.

Lacey reports, "As always, the biggest irritant is that they emphasize areas with strong and growing demand, and for othe areas will do what's appropriate, depending on the business case.  The corridor will get most of the attention anyway, but if they want to dispense with everything else they should say so!  One of the questions I'll be sending in is about the business case.  Another is - with Greyhound dropping all but three of its routes in AB & MB - surely there's an opportunity to serve the vacuum that's left. Clearly he/they backed off from making any real announcements because they were afraid of the rank public reception that there would be.

Expand VIA Rail to provide service to all communities on mainlines

"Via Rail Canada offered a disappointing vision at today's meeting. VIA Rail should be expanded to provide rail passenger service to all communities that are on mainlines," David Jeanes, the National President of Transport Action Canada said on May 29.

"Efficient passenger rail service, where track infrastructure exists, is proven to provide passenger service at the lowest possible level of public subsidy when all costs, including infrastructure, are taken into account." Dan Hammond from Transport Action Ontario said. "VIA Rail Canada only provides such service in limited areas of Canada. In most parts of the country VIA does not run trains frequently enough to meet the needs of many potential travelers."

No cuts were announced at the meeting. 

Transport Action is advocating that the Government of Canada provide the required investment and legislative framework to transform VIA Rail Canada into a national network  for our communities  so that rail passenger service will become a sustainable and economical alternative for Canadians. Transport Action Canada, along with it's regional associations Transport Action Atlantic, Transport Action Ontario, Transport Action Prairie and Transport Action BC and  affiliates including Transport 2000 Québec, Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains and Le Groupe TRAQ support the proposal. http://t.co/JJc0O0m3

SRC, Via Rail pourrait réduire ses services dans les Maritimes

Via Rail pourrait réduire le service du train Océan, entre Montréal et Halifax, selon le réseau Global News de Winnipeg. Cette information provoque déjà des réactions dans la région. Via Rail veut réduire ses services dans l'Ouest canadien tout comme dans l'Est, selon la rumeur qui circule au pays. Le service du train Océan, qui effectue la liaison Montréal-Halifax et qui dessert le Nouveau-Brunswick et la Nouvelle-Écosse, passerait de 6 à 3 jours par semaine» SRC a rapporté le 31 Mai. http://is.gd/wJy1kO

Winnipeg Free Press, Worried Via workers probe officials on cuts

"Worried Via Rail employees peppered senior company officials with questions about rumoured service cuts and job losses at the Crown corporation's annual meeting Tuesday in Winnipeg. During a question-and-answer session near the end of the meeting, Winnipegger Jacqueline Robert-Choptuik, an activity co-ordinator on Via's western trains, asked company officials if there was any truth to rumours service between Toronto and Vancouver would be cut from three trains a week to two. Robert-Choptuik said if that were to happen, "hundreds of us will be losing our jobs," Murray McNeill reported for the Winnipeg Free Press on May 29. http://is.gd/FegGqC

Via Rail to cut services Global News reports

On Wed May 30 Tom Box wrote about possible VIA Rails service cuts. "The media report says "Global News has learned one scheduled run of the scenic 'Canadian' route to the west coast will be cancelled during the winter.There will also be fewer trains between Montreal and Halifax. Service is slated to be cancelled between Gaspe and Moncton." The video version of the story is more specific about the Ocean, saying "three fewer trains between Montreal and Halifax."

"Of course there are no direct trains between Gaspé and Moncton. I suppose this means cancellation of the Chaleur between Gaspé and Matapedia. Perhaps it also means rerouting of the Ocean onto the NTR, which would end passenger service between Matapedia and Moncton (and also Rivière-du-Loup to Matapedia), but that's probably reading too much into one sentence of a news report.

"No offical announcement has been made by VIA. Global makes this sound like definite news, but they could be wrong, or details of the planned cuts (if there really is a plan) could change. Other tidbits from the video report: the VIA brass all flew to Winnipeg for the annual public meeting; none took the train.

"There were only three passengers on board the Churchill train when it left Winnipeg yesterday. I'm sure there will be many more in northern Manitoba, but you have to wonder about the train's continued operation between Winnipeg and The Pas," Tom Box posted on the 1140-member Canadian Passenger Trains Yahoo group. http://is.gd/4B5BZH

STL to offer $1 fares on smog days

"The Société de transport de Laval is launching the 5th edition of Operation Smog Alert to encourage residents to use public transit during the summer on smog days. First introduced in 2008 and starting June 1, this measure consists of reducing the bus fare to just $1 on smog days and is designed to promote the use of public transit and, at the same time, to cut down on the number of vehicles on the road, which are largely responsible for air pollution. The STL’s cash fare is normally $3.00; the special $1 fare granted to riders on smog days therefore corresponds to a discount of nearly 67% on the regular price," STL reported on May 31. http://cnw.ca/rR7U

La STL baissera ses tarifs de 67 % lors des journées de smog 

La Société de transport de Laval donne le coup d’envoi à la cinquième édition de l’opération Alerte au smog. Cette initiative de la STL vise à inciter les citoyens à utiliser les transports en commun pendant l’été, les jours de smog. Lancée en 2008 et reprise à partir du 1er juin, cette mesure consiste à ramener à seulement 1 $ le tarif des autobus les jours de smog. Le but de cette démarche est de favoriser l’utilisation des transports en commun et, du même coup, à réduire le nombre de voitures en circulation, lesquelles sont en grande partie responsables de la pollution atmosphérique. Normalement, le tarif au comptant de la STL est de 3,00 $; le tarif spécial de 1 $ accordé lors des journées de smog correspond donc à une réduction de près de 67 % du prix habituel. http://cnw.ca/VEb0

Return of Amtrak's Montrealer advanced

"Four U.S. Senators representing both New York State and Vermont have revived an effort to restore Amtrak service between Montreal and New York City via Vermont (and New Hampshire). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are urging U.S. and Canadian negotiators to reach quick agreement to allow Customs security clearance for Amtrak to take place in Montreal's Gare Central. That would immediately benefit Amtrak's Adirondack, linking New York and Montreal via New York State, which currently suffers extensive delays at the U.S.-Canadian border near Rouses Point, N.Y," Douglas John Bowen wrote for Railway Age on May 29, 2012. http://is.gd/0VM2KT

Maine expands passenger rail service 

Transport Action's Anton Turrittin reports, "Small centres can benefit hugely from passenger rail.The State of Maine understands this and has just extended Amtrak's Downeaster to Brunswick, ME, passing through Freeport (home of LL Bean). An independent study of this Amtrak train shows that by 2030 the Downeaster train will spur some $7.2 billion in new construction in the corridor, and 18,000 new jobs will be created, with $75 million in new tax revenues generated by increased local economic activity.

"Maine has put together a short video http://is.gd/0KBGVl highlighting the benefits of the train extension on a route that hasn't seen passenger trains in decades. And it's another train route inching ever closer to the Canadian border," Transport Action's Anton Turrittin reports. 

Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways

Victoria Transport Policy Institute reports, "Many people believe that non-motorized modes (walking, cycling, and their variants) have less right to use public roads than motorists, based on assumptions that motor vehicle travel is more important than non-motorized travel and motor vehicle user fees finance roads. This report investigates these assumptions. 

"It finds that non-motorized modes have clear legal rights to use public roads, that non-motorized travel is important for an efficient transport system and provides significant benefits to users and society, that less than half of roadway expenses are financed by motor vehicle user fees, and pedestrians and cyclists pay more than their share of roadway costs. Since bicycling and walking impose lower roadway costs than motorized modes, people who rely on non-motorized modes tend to overpay their fair share of roadway costs and subsidize motorists." The report is at http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf 

Changing Vehicle Travel Price Sensitivities

Victoria Transport Policy Institute reports, "There is growing interest in transportation pricing reforms to help achieve various planning objectives such as congestion, accident and emission reductions. Their effectiveness is affected by the price sensitivity of transport, that is, the degree that prices affect travel activity, measured as elasticities (percentage change in travel caused by a one-percent price change). 

"Lower elasticities imply that price reforms are relatively ineffective at achieving planning objectives, burdensome to consumers, and that rebound effects (additional vehicle travel caused by increased fuel economy) are small so strategies that increase vehicle fuel economy are effective at conserving fuel. Higher elasticities imply that price reforms are relatively effective and bearable to consumers, and rebound effects are large. Some studies found very low transport elasticities during the last quarter of the Twentieth Century but recent evidence suggests that price sensitivities have since increased. This report discusses the concepts of price elasticities and rebound effects, reviews vehicle travel and fuel price elasticity estimates, examines evidence of changing price sensitivities, and discusses policy implications. The report is at http://www.vtpi.org/VMT_Elasticities.pdf

VTPI's Todd Litman regularly posts on his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/todd.litman . Befriend him now!

CN boss warns Ottawa to back off

"As the federal government threatens new regulations this fall, Claude Mongeau, the chief executive of Canadian National Railway Co., is urging Ottawa to not interfere in the rail industry. The Harper government appointed a facilitator last November to meet with representatives from the country's largest railways and their customers to determine the best way to move forward with the recommendations of the Rail Freight Service Review, which was launched in 2008 to address systemic complaints of poor service at CN and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. A report is expected in the coming days from the facilitator, and the federal government said it remains committed to tabling a bill this fall that would grant shippers a right to a service agreement," Scott Deveau reported for the Financial Post on May 31. http://is.gd/IydR7S

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains Rally for the Ontario Northland
CTV News Northern Ontario

Bonjour à tous lecteurs du TRAQ-Hebdo

Greetings to all TRAQ-Hebdo readers

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1168, June 1, 2012
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290


June 2, Toronto, Cycle and sole, 3pm Rally at Queen's Park for pedestrian and cycling safety. http://cycleandsole.com/home.html

June 28, Vancouver, Velo-City Global 2012, VTPI Todd Litman, Comprehensive Evaluation of Bicycling Benefits http://www.velo-city2012.com

Aug. 25-26, Charny, FESTIRAIL, TRAQ http://is.gd/i5XiNx