The Spring-Summer 2018 issue of The Bulletin, Transport Action Atlantic’s twice annual publication, is now available online. This issue’s feature coverage is VIA Rail’s 40th anniversary, a look at where the national passenger railway has ended up after four decades of service, and what the future might have in store. This issue also features additional rail news and commentary, updates on TAA’s advocacy work, marine and air news, transit and intercity bus updates, and much more!
Remember, TAA members receive a hard copy of each Bulletin by mail and have the chance to read each issue before anyone else. You can read more about the benefits of membership, and even join today, here: Membership
Marine Atlantic’s customer satisfaction rates increased to 77 per cent during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2017, and on-time performance rates improved to 91 per cent. The vessel reliability rate stood at 99 per cent, and the Newfoundland ferry service recorded its second consecutive year of growth, the first back-to-back passenger increases in almost two decades.
There was quite a bit of good news to report as the Crown corporation held its annual public meeting in St. John’s on November 6. However, there was one very sobering statistic presented by board chair Kris Parsons and CEO Paul Griffin. During the last fiscal year, Marine Atlantic achieved a record 70 per cent cost recovery, “falling within the targeted range as directed by the Government of Canada.” It generated $111.7 million in revenue, while the service cost $209.4 million to operate. The federal subsidy for the year was $94 million.
The cost recovery ratio has risen steadily over the past two decades, climbing from approximately 45 per cent in the late 1990s. During that period, user rates have soared at triple the national inflation rate – in sharp contrast to tolls on PEI’s Confederation Bridge, which are tied to the cost-of-living index.
During the last federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau publicly lambasted the Harper Tories for their fixation on cost recovery for the ferry service, and promised that a Liberal government would address the issue. They haven’t: Since the election there have been two rate increases at Marine Atlantic – both well in excess of the cost-of-living index. A third is anticipated for 2018, although it had not been announced as of this writing.
Transport Action Atlantic hosted a successful Annual General Meeting at the CN Pensioner’s Center in Moncton this past Saturday. Though the turnout was smaller than in some years, no doubt thanks to Saturday being one of the few really beautiful spring days we’ve had so far, the discussion among those who attended was engaging and enjoyable.
Our slate of panelists provided some excellent and thought provoking discussion on the topic of how we get to sustainable transportation, covering a wide range of topics that affect communities throughout the Maritimes. Special thanks to our excellent panelists: David Coon (MLA Fredericton South), Greg Turner (Councillor at-large, Moncton), Erica Butler (journalist, Halifax Examiner), Adrian Hetherington (traffic analyst), and Michael Perry (TAA Board member, involved with RuralLynx/Charlotte County transit initiative).
A correspondent from CTV News was on hand to cover the event. You can read the CTV article below, complete with a short video clip including interviews with TAA President Ted Bartlett, TAA Vice President Ashley Morton, and panelist and New Brunswick Green MLA (Fredericton South) David Coon. The CTV report only touches on a few of the day’s topics, as the conversation also covered passenger rail, ferries, local transit, and general issues about how varying levels of government can work together to meet public transportation needs.