Transportation authority needed for Island

The rest of the world is developing rail systems everywhere

Transportation authority needed for Island

Re: “Rail schedule must suit commuters”, (Citizen, Nov. 29)

Firstly his [Alex Currie] point about the rail schedule is absolutely correct. Along with other rail services a schedule that brings a train into Victoria in the morning makes the most sense.

But to backtrack a little, I would like to point out that when the Island Corridor Foundation became the owners of the rail corridor they inherited the VIA rail operation — since the contract was with VIA, they controlled the schedule. That even goes back to the days when CPR ran the trains and they left from Victoria, but more often, and moving in both directions.

Now, let’s look at what’s possible. There are a couple of things we need to be aware of. Vancouver Island’s population is growing in leaps and bounds. Fuel prices continue to escalate. These two situations alone give reason to restore and put to good use our rail corridor running through 85 per cent of the population of the Island. Vision is what’s needed, not short sightedness.

Services such as intercity passenger service which provide opportunities to travel both north and south at convenient times using small consists of rail equipment. A commuter-style service in the western communities. And finally tourist trains serving the cruise ships in Victoria and Nanaimo, not to mention tourists who come to the Island on BC Ferries. BC Ferries currently advertises Vancouver Island vacations using the ferries, why not train rides? Tourist trains from Victoria up Island to Duncan, Chemainus etc., for the cruise ship passengers. Likewise out of Nanaimo to Duncan, Chemainus and Port Alberni. Other possibilities exist and are only limited by one’s imagination.

There is also freight service required and could be expanded and developed by the rail operator with a concerted effort.

Last, but most important, I believe the answer to all of this is a Vancouver Island transportation authority that would bring together all the transportation systems on the Island.

Just imagine a passenger-only ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver with connections to rail services at both ends. How about a connection to the airport in Cassidy from Nanaimo. Wow, thinking outside the box works folks. Ferries, buses, rail, air etc., that would have a mandate to coordinate schedules for the benefit of all. We cannot depend on highways and cars into the future. What is currently being spent to do some more widening on the Malahat would have created a greater benefit if it had been spent on the rail corridor. The rest of the world is developing rail systems everywhere while we in Canada sit on our hands and say “it can’t be done”. Our federal government talked about spending $10 billion on infrastructure. Just think one per cent of that, spent on the rail on Vancouver Island would do the job. Thanks for listening.

Jack Peake

Lake Cowichan

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