No business case for Island railway
I find it interesting that the Island Corridor Foundation managed to do a survey that had 80 per cent positive responses since when I poll my friends it is more like 80 per cent negative.
The sentiment of it being a transport corridor is admirable, but is it realistic? If it was, then we would have had a company step up to the plate to take it on as a business. There is no business case for it. Our population density is not high enough to even get it close to earning its keep. When it did run a ticket from Shawnigan Lake to Duncan was $19 each way. That did not cover cost, that is why it shut down.
I did not see the survey, or I would have responded, what I did see is the CBC report: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-island-rail-corridor-cost-analysis-report-1.5550167 which states: “An assessment of bridges, tracks and rail ties on Vancouver Island’s E&N Line has yielded estimates of up to $729 million to restore rail service from Victoria to Courtenay and from Parksville to Port Alberni. (Friends of Rails to Trails/Facebook)”
Did they ask in the survey how much they would be willing to pay in additional taxes? Did they ask how often the person would expect to use it? Daily, or for a nice outing, so once in a while? If we were to spend that amount of money on improving transportation infrastructure I am sure we can do better than a single wide rail line most of us will never use. This kind of survey falls in the category of: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. If you ask the questions in a certain way and do not get an adequate sampling but only collect the responses of those who happened to read about the survey or were notified about the survey by the Island Corridor foundation, it is not a legitimate polling result.
Does the rail corridor have support on the Island? Yes, it does. Is the overall level of support as high as this article claims? Definitely not! Depending on how you do a survey you can get the answers you want to hear. This definitely comes across as one of those. Can we use this corridor in economic recovery? Definitely! Make it a cycling/hiking trail with bed and breakfasts and other attractions at a reasonable day’s travel apart. Include some camping areas where the distance is too big. Charge a permit fee for the use of those camping areas. I bet that can be done for a lot less than $729 million and would be well used!