ST. MARYS, ONTARIO – The Wynne government’s just-released proposal for high-speed rail passenger service in the distant future in Southwestern Ontario is impractical, unaffordable and unacceptable, says the All Aboard St. Marys citizens’ committee.
“We’ve previously heard all of this pie-in-the-sky stuff from this government and others before it,” says Chris West of All Aboard St. Marys. “Any multi-billion-dollar plan that won’t deliver improved rail service for nearly a decade, is dependent on funding that may or may not materialize, and leaves St. Marys, Stratford, Brantford, Woodstock and Ingersoll out of the mix is a non-starter. This is just a regurgitation of the empty pre-election promise this government made in 2014.”
All Aboard St. Marys has long advocated incremental improvement of the two existing rail routes between Toronto and London, and then westward to both Windsor and Sarnia. The group’s view is that several workable plans now being successfully and quickly implemented on comparable U.S. corridors offer realistic and cost-effective blueprints for Southwestern Ontario. These U.S. programs have all delivered affordable and usable improvements on a rapid and continuous basis.
Says West, “The government could have saved itself and the public time and money by simply adapting and adopting the program now in place for the San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento service known as the Capitol Corridor (http://www.capitolcorridor.org/vision-plan/), to use just one example out of many. They’ve gone from two trains daily in the early 1990s to 15 roundtrips today through a combination of ongoing equipment, infrastructure and speed improvements, as well as extensive coordination with all the connecting transit systems and feeder bus routes along the line.”
The Capitol Corridor is now the fourth busiest rail passenger route in the U.S. and its locally- based management team’s practical vision plan will boost that in stages with more departures, increased speeds and eventual conversion to an electrified, high-frequency service that will deliver all the benefits being promised in the Ontario proposal. The key difference is that the Capitol Corridor plan has and will continue to yield benefits almost immediately to passengers every step of the way.
“What the provincial government is doing with this pre-election promise is mortgaging our future,” says West. “The U.S. regions with which we compete for jobs and investment, such as Northern California, are barrelling ahead with realistic rail improvement plans that have already proved their worth. Southwestern Ontario is going to be left with nothing but glitzy promises, inadequate rail service and expensive reports that will gather dust on the shelf. That the government is also proposing to create a whole new bureaucracy similar to Metrolinx to deal with this high-speed dream scheme is truly frightening.”
All Aboard St. Marys will be advancing the case for high-performance rail service in the weeks ahead by meeting with politicians and community leaders all along the Toronto-Kitchener- London line. The Capitol Corridor vision plan and the group’s own high-performance rail report (http://allaboardstmarys.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/HPR-Brochure-Revised-170412.pdf) will be the focus of these discussions. The need for such a service is urgent and the time for action is now.
Says West, “At the very least, today’s announcement from Queen’s Park focuses attention on a mobility issue where politics has trumped rational decision-making for too long. Since the government has put this out for public debate, we intend to be a strong and well-informed voice of reason in the days ahead.”
For more information, please contact:
All Aboard St. Marys firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 519 284-3310
Fax: 519 284-3160
Toll free: 1-866-862-5632 Ext. 238
Visit us at www.allaboardstmarys.ca