From surfaces to services

New Brunswick releases report and recommendations on inclusive and sustainable transportation

 – by Yves Bourgeois

               “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.”

– Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogota

Yves Bourgeois stands in front of the iconic former Canadian Pacific station at McAdam, where New Brunswick’s report on sustainable and inclusive transportation was released on 11 December 2017.

New Brunswick citizens and policymakers need to pivot their thinking significantly from surfaces to services, putting “access” first and ratcheting up shared transportation services investments in balance with physical transportation infrastructure.   This fundamental shift from roads and highways is crucial if the province hopes not only to reduce poverty, but also to improve population growth, physical health, job creation and the environment.  This is the overarching theme of the report and recommendations on inclusive and sustainable mobility released on 11 December 2017 by the New Brunswick advisory committee on Rural and urban transportation (RUTAC) struck by New Brunswick Government’s Economic and social inclusion corporation (ESIC).

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A New Proposal to Rehabilitate the Ocean

Federal Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May and New Brunswick Green Party leader and MLA David Coon hold a copy of Greg Gormick's new report on the future of VIA's Ocean
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and New Brunswick provincial leader David Coon are among elected officials who have received copies of Riding the Ocean’s Next Wave.

“VIA Rail’s Ocean is dying.” So begins the report recently completed by transportation consultant and advocate Greg Gormick for the advocacy group Save Our Trains in Northern New Brunswick. The new report is titled “Riding the Ocean’s Next Wave: A proposal for VIA Rail Canada’s Maritime services”, and was released in mid-August with considerable media coverage.

Gormick is no stranger to VIA’s Maritime services. He has completed reports on rail service in the region in the past, and toured Atlantic Canada as part of the “National Dream Renewed” campaign several years ago, aiming to generate support for improvements to VIA’s services across the country at a time when the future was looking particularly bleak.

His assessment of the current situation boils down, in essence, to three points: VIA is struggling to compete with discount airlines for end-to-end travel; their equipment is deteriorating; and the inconvenience of a tri-weekly schedule is simply unable to generate adequate ridership or effectively serve any part of the market. These are concerns that are generally shared by TAA. Continue reading “A New Proposal to Rehabilitate the Ocean”

Blueprint unveiled for passenger rail in Canada

Cover page of the VIA 1-4-10 plan, prepared by Greg Gormick for Transport Action Canada, showing a VIA Rail train waiting at a set of signal lights in the dark.

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been urged to undertake a sweeping review of passenger rail from coast to coast, and to initiate action to bring this country in step with the other nations in the G7 community.  The challenge was unveiled two days after the new Liberal administration took office, at an event commemorating National Railway Day.  It coincides with the 130th anniversary of the last spike ceremony that marked completion of a continuous rail link from across the country on November 7, 1885.

Transport Action Canada and its regional affiliates have just completed a comprehensive document entitled The VIA 1-4-10 Plan.  Prepared by eminent transportation consultant and writer Greg Gormick, it explores the past, present and future of passenger rail, tracing its decline since the flawed creation of VIA Rail Canada by order-in-council in 1978, and offering practical and achievable suggestions for its reconstruction.  A copy of the report has been delivered to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, with public release taking place during a Railway Day event at the VIA station in St. Mary’s, Ontario.

“The timing is doubly appropriate,” says Transport Action Atlantic president Ted Bartlett, “because a government that has embraced ‘real change’ is taking office so close to the anniversary of an event so significant to Canada’s very existence.  We’re asking Minister Garneau to include this issue among his priorities.”

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