September 3, 2015 — Saving VIA Rail: “Ask your Candidate”

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Saving VIA Rail: “Ask Your Candidate”

ST. MARYS, ONTARIO – The third and most crucial part of the citizens’ campaign for improved rail passenger service – the Save VIA Voting Phase – is shifting into high gear. To spur the public debate and ensure those running for elected office make the future of Canada’s beleaguered rail passenger system a priority, Save VIA is urging all voters to “Ask Your Candidate” when they come to the door seeking support at the polls on October 19.

“The time has come to put the question directly to those who, dependent on the outcome of the election, will have to deal with VIA in Ottawa on behalf of those who elect them,” said Save VIA’s Chris West. “We’ve heard many supportive comments from the candidates so far, but we still haven’t seen anything to indicate any of the political parties have a clear, action-oriented plan to fix the passenger trains on which we depend, if we vote them into office.”

To put the issue front and centre with voters and candidates, Save VIA will be launching several new elements in its campaign in favour of modern, efficient and revitalized rail passenger service. One of these is a series of videos featuring St. Marys residents, which will be posted on the Save VIA website and distributed through a wide range of social media. The videos will point out that the passenger trains of every other industrialized nation are being modernized with public funds, while VIA has been starved financially and left to operate a system that too many Canadians feel is too slow, too infrequent and too expensive to use regularly.

Another component of the Save VIA Voting Phase campaign will be the weekly release of backgrounders highlighting the cost-effective improvements being made by other publicly- owned rail passenger systems around the world. These include some very innovative projects by state governments and federally-owned Amtrak, which is riding a 10-year wave of ridership growth and receiving the first of the new trains to fully renew its nationwide service.

BOX 1197 449 QUEEN STREET WEST ST. MARYS, ONTARIO N4X 1B7 TELEPHONE (519) 284-3310 FACSIMILE (519) 284-3160

Said Save VIA campaign coordinator Greg Gormick, “The news we receive every day about the increasing investment in passenger trains around the world begs us to ask our current and future politicians why this isn’t happening in Canada. It’s important for voters who care about the future of their passenger trains to know just what’s being done at an affordable public cost and with a high public payback – except in Canada.”

Save VIA’s “Why Not in Canada” backgrounders will demonstrate that revitalizing VIA as the core of an improved and seamless public travel system is not only affordable and doable, it’s in the best economic, social and environmental interests of Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific to Hudson Bay. Rail passenger improvement projects have been proven to generate three to four times their investment cost in “green economy” spin-off and job creation. They also save taxpayers billions in lost travel time and costs, as well as reducing spending on less efficient and less environmentally-friendly forms of transportation.

The release of VIA’s last quarterly report on August 31, 2015, presents a sad contrast to this worldwide rail renaissance. It revealed that while the Crown corporation’s long decline in ridership seems to have bottomed out, there was only marginal growth of 2,000 passengers in the second quarter of 2015. On-time performance continued to fall, dropping from 75% to 66% so far this year. The sketchy plans for improvement that VIA announced in Southwestern Ontario in June give no assurance that anything will change for the better after the election.

“VIA needs real and sustainable improvement now,” said West. “Other countries have fixed their rail passenger systems and they’re growing at a tremendous rate, as the Save VIA backgrounders will show. It’s time to ask why this isn’t happening in St. Marys and all across Canada. Over the remaining six weeks of this election campaign, we’ll be providing voters with information they can show to their candidates to demonstrate how VIA can and must be fixed immediately after the votes are counted on the evening of October 19. It’s time to vote for VIA.”

Chris West,
Save VIA
Box 1197 449 Queen St. W
St. Marys, ON N4X 1B7 [email protected]
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

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