FOR RELEASE: AUGUST 18, 2016
We’re All Aboard St. Marys now!
ST. MARYS, ONTARIO – All Aboard St. Marys is the new name of the Save VIA citizens’ committee that has been working diligently for improved rail passenger service in Southwestern Ontario and across Canada since 2012.
“We’re rebranding because it’s the passenger trains – not VIA – that we need to save, improve and expand,” says Chris West of All Aboard St. Marys. “As was said in the Canada Transportation Act Review Committee’s report delivered earlier this year to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, the way rail passenger service is provided in Canada is badly flawed, unsustainable and out of step with the rest of the world. To be blunt, VIA has been a flop since it was created in 1977 by the Trudeau government. That’s largely due to a succession of federal governments and the Ottawa bureaucracy, not VIA itself.”
As All Aboard St. Marys, the citizens’ committee will increase its push for investment by both the federal and provincial governments in the modernization and expansion of our sagging rail passenger service. It will be calling for a fundamental and structural correction of the federal rail passenger program and provincial transportation policies, especially in Ontario.
Says West, “We’ve now got provincially-funded GO chewing into VIA’s traditional markets and a provincial proposal to get into intercity transportation with a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail scheme. This makes absolutely no sense to us and it’s time someone started saying so.”
All Aboard St. Marys points to the U.S. for a successful and practical working model that would correct Canada’s habitual failure to provide modern and effective rail passenger service. There, Amtrak was created in 1971 as a federal agency with a clearly defined mandate that was set out in legislation, something VIA has never been given. The U.S. legislation also spelled out a means for the states to become involved in partnerships with the federal government to operate trains that were of regional importance, but outside the scope of Amtrak’s national mandate.
Says West, “The U.S. now has 28 corridor-style rail passenger services of up to 1,200 km that are being funded jointly by Washington and 19 state governments. Those highly successful corridor operations from Maine to California are frequently directed by various public boards or joint powers authorities composed of representatives of the communities they serve. It’s working in the U.S. and it’s high time our elected officials examined this approach for application here.”
As part of its heightened advocacy campaign, All Aboard St. Marys has adopted a bold logo designed by recent Fanshawe College graduate Christopher Ryan. The group’s website is also being thoroughly overhauled and hard-hitting reports and brochures will be issued to match its increased activities.
“The time for sunny words and long-range studies is over,” says West. “Southwestern Ontarians and rail passengers nationwide want change – now. We’ll be asking elected officials of all political stripes just why we aren’t getting those overdue rail improvements when the rest of the world – including our U.S. neighbours – are charging boldly ahead of us by running modern passenger trains that demonstrate daily their massive economic, social and environmental benefits. That question is especially pertinent when the federal and provincial governments are now portraying themselves as climate change warriors.”
To celebrate its relaunch, and with the full support and encouragement of St. Marys Town Council, All Aboard St. Marys Day is slated for Friday, September 16. A schedule of day-long events will be issued shortly. The public, the media and politicians are cordially invited to attend and hear the views of the residents, business people and local representatives of St. Marys on the future of our passenger trains.
For more information, please contact:
All Aboard St. Marys [email protected] www.savevia.ca
Tel: 519 284 3310
Fax: 519 284 3160
Sans frais/toll free 1-866-8632 ext 238
BOX 1197 449 QUEEN STREET WEST ST. MARYS, ONTARIO N4X 1B7 TELEPHONE (519) 284-3310 FACSIMILE (519) 284-3160