Spring-Summer Bulletin now available

“VIA Rail at 40: The good, the bad, and the ugly” – our feature coverage on VIA’s 40th anniversary is just one of many topics featured in this issue of The Bulletin

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!

Read on, here: Spring-Summer 2018 Bulletin

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 cost recovery reaches 70% – Corporation holds annual public meeting

Marine Atlantic’s customer satisfaction levels and on-time performance continue to improve – but the cost recovery targets demanded by Transport Canada continue to soar.

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.

 

– Ted Bartlett