Via Rail has announced that it plans to cut the Montreal-Moncton-Halifax train service in half, to just 3 days a week, year-round.
Via claims this is in response to demand, but this train is often sold out in the summer and fall as well as during the February and March breaks and at Christmas. 134,000 passengers used this train in 2011, up from 127,000 in 2010. It's an important link for small towns poorly served by air or bus, especially in northeastern New Brunswick. It's also valued by people with disabilities, people travelling to medical appointments and those who are unable to fly or drive, especially in winter.
An Access To Information request by Transport Action (formerly Transport 2000) has provided evidence that a private lobbyist has targeted the Ocean in favour of setting up a private, seasonal tour train for wealthy tourists.
Behind the scenes, a major Government study on VIA Rail "rationalization", part of a Rail Passenger Review, will go to Cabinet shortly with NO public consultation. Transport Canada bureaucrats have opposed passenger rail in Canada ever since the early 1970s. Now they're moving in to finish the job.
The average taxpayer contributed less than 75 cents from each bi-weekly paycheque for Via's operating subsidy last year. That's less than the cost of a small coffee every two weeks.
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