The Green Party of Canada is decrying the latest cuts to VIA rail, which will result in reduced service across Canada and 200 layoffs. “We should be investing in our rail service, both passenger and freight, and instead we are heading in the wrong direction,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.
“These cuts to our national infrastructure will come at an economic cost. In tourism alone, Canada will lose. With lack of service, ridership will continue to decline. Some communities will be stranded and, in particular, seniors may suffer lack of mobility, as the highways and airlines become the only option. This is not a forward thinking plan,” said May.
The cuts to VIA rail come at a time of increasing public service cuts, with 1000 jobs being lost in the latest round.
Canada is the only country in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with no national transportation strategy. While Europeans have highly efficient inter-modal connectivity, with high speed rail linking downtown cores to airports, with bicycle lanes allowing people to move around cities safely, efficiently and pollution-free, with streetcars in the downtowns and even rural areas serviced by bus and rail, Canadian communities are increasingly stranded.
In much of Canada, rail routes that once moved thousands of people are abandoned. Edmonton to Calgary, Saskatoon to Regina, Halifax to Sydney have all been axed, despite their profitability.
“Yes, our rail system needs an overhaul, but the focus should be on improving efficiency of the passenger and freight systems, increasing commuter trains and shifting cargo off highways and onto freight trains. We appear to have gone off the rails. Instead of improving things, we are slowly losing our rail infrastructure, to the detriment of Canada,” said May.