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Improving Inter-Urban Passenger Rail in Ontario SWEA Regional Passenger Transportation Summit. Peter Miasek Transport Action Ontario November 14, 2013 www.transport-action.ca/ontario. Symbolism vs. Reality.

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improving inter urban passenger rail in ontario swea regional passenger transportation summit

Improving Inter-Urban Passenger Rail in OntarioSWEA Regional Passenger Transportation Summit

Peter Miasek

Transport Action Ontario

November 14, 2013

www.transport-action.ca/ontario

symbolism vs reality
Symbolism vs. Reality
  • National Railway Day, Nov 7 - declared in 2010 to commemorate driving of the last spike for the CPR in 1885
  • New $10 bill – shows the Canadian that links the country
  • Reality – Minister Raitt statement on National Railway Day: “New economic opportunities still require rail to link Canadian goods to waiting markets”. Silent on Passenger Rail!!
  • Reality on the ground – Derailments, cuts to VIA, branch line abandonments
citizen advocacy for improved passenger rail
Citizen Advocacy for Improved Passenger Rail
  • Transport Action
    • Nation-wide NGO advocating for sustainable transportation since 1976
    • 5 regional affiliates, including Transport Action Ontario
    • Strong technical strength. Website, reports, newsletters
  • Local NGO’s
    • e.g. RAIL (Lambton Co.), SaveVIA (St Mary’s), NEORN (N. Ontario)
    • Awareness-building, petitions, chair-ins, municipal resolutions
    • Meetings with elected officials and VIA. Pilot project idea
  • Citizen advocacy can be powerful if messages are realistic and consistent
  • “Citizen’s Guide to Sustainable Transportation Advocacy”
    • On Transport Action Ontario website
recent examples of rail advocacy by transport action
Recent Examples of Rail Advocacy by Transport Action
  • Presentation to Standing Committee on General Government, Queen’s Park.
    • “Increasing the Provincial Role in Intercity Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation” April 10, 2013
  • Development of Practical Short-Term Visions:
    • “A Wedding Band of Confederation: Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada” June 3, 2013
    • “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector” November 6, 2013
summary of increasing provincial role in passenger rail and bus transportation
Summary of “Increasing Provincial Role in Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation”
  • VIA cutbacks in 2012 just the latest of a long trend
  • Bus service has also deteriorated.
  • Numerous factors are increasing the need for more rail:
    • Urban area congestion
    • Corporate travel preferences
    • USA rail investment
    • Cost of auto ownership
    • Aging demographics
    • Environmental
  • “National Dream Renewed” campaign – 13 town hall meetings across Ontario and Maritimes in 2012 – 2013.
summary of increasing provincial role in passenger rail and bus transportation cont d
Summary of “Increasing Provincial Role in Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation” (cont’d)
  • What the province can do:
    • Formal agreement with federal government on intercity passenger rail cooperation
    • Create a planning agency to coordinate and support intercity public transportation in Northern Ontario (Metrolinx “North”)
    • Declare a provincial interest in all upcoming rail line abandonments
    • Promote operational cooperation between VIA and GO Transit
summary of restoring rail passenger service to ontario s north shore and across canada
Summary of “Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada”
  • Funding provided by Bruce Hyer, MP Thunder Bay – Superior North and Transport Action
  • Prepared by Greg Gormick, noted Canadian rail transportation consultant and writer
  • North Shore challenges and solutions:
    • National Rail Passenger Policy
    • Adequate and stable funding for VIA
    • VIA track access on freight lines
    • Long Haul cost-recovery
    • Northern Ontario Service Review – includes using refurbished Budd RDC’s (Transport Canada to resolve alleged CN safety concerns).
    • VIA Rail Canada Act. Model from Amtrak approach
summary of revitalizing new brunswick s rail sector
Summary of “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector”
  • Funding from five New Brunswick cities and one economic agency, under coordination of Transport Action.
  • Prepared by Greg Gormick.
  • Timing for revitalization is good due to new Federal Minister (2013), new VIA President (2014), in-depth audit of VIA (underway)
  • Report recommends actions on several issues, including VIA’s halving of the frequency of the Ocean passenger service in 2012
summary of revitalizing new brunswick s rail sector cont d
Summary of “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector” (cont’d)
  • Recommended actions in response to VIA cutbacks of 2012:
    • Municipal resolutions and direct approach to Minister Raitt
    • Interim service using available Budd RDCs. Resolve alleged safety concerns by CN
    • Scope connecting bus service
    • Investigate transferring ownership of VIA stations to municipalities
    • VIA to form a consultation committee
    • Investigation by Auditor General as part of 5-year VIA audit
    • Encourage FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)
potential short term steps to improving passenger rail in southwestern ontario
Potential Short-Term Steps to Improving Passenger Rail in Southwestern Ontario
  • Establish regional working group ideally with VIA participation.
  • Citizen awareness and activism
  • Obtain provincial and federal support in principle
  • Develop feasible concept plan (2-5 year horizon) that people can rally around:
    • Network – Rail and Connecting Bus
    • Equipment (Budd RDC per 2009 VIA proposal?)
    • Station ownership
    • Service level
  • Develop Business Plan for 2 year pilot program:
    • Operations
    • Marketing – major public awareness program
    • Costs, fares, funding (multi government)
  • Implement pilot and draw conclusions for further work
longer term ideas and needs
Longer Term Ideas and Needs
  • Emulate similar US corridors
    • Toronto-Kitchener-London 195 km, 4.2 Million Population
    • San Francisco–Oakland-Sacramento 145 km, 3.6 Million Population
  • Improved passenger comfort (Siemens Railjet Video)
  • Improved corridor safety
    • Petroleum movements
    • Crossings upgrade
  • Airport Links
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