Public transit is only green if it attracts lots of people to use it.
The E&N passenger service never did that because the schedule was utterly impractical.
Adding morning and evening runs between Nanaimo and Victoria will not help much. Who wants to leave Nanaimo at six in the morning and not get back until eight at night?
For a much cheaper operating budget than the railway and a fraction of the capital investment, we could have bus service from Campbell River through to Victoria, several trips a day in each direction, shorter travel times, affordable fares, and good connections to bus routes and services along the way such as BC Ferries.
Even with close to $20 million spent on the railway (on top of the $1.4-million annual subsidy), Islanders north of Nanaimo will still have no way to get to Victoria and back in one day by public transit. That’s a slap in the face to the thousands of who are unable to use a car (youth, elderly, disabled, low-income) or prefer public transit as a sustainable option.
The climate crisis demands that we invest in transportation that minimizes emissions of CO2. Buses use significantly less fuel than the E&N’s railcars, which burn a litre of diesel to go one kilometre.
Moreover, 10,000 wooden ties must be replaced every year. Five acres of forest must be cut down, and enough wood to build 25 houses left in the ground to rot.
Before public money is spent on the E&N, we need an objective study to compare all the options.
Governments at all levels should co-operate on providing public transportation on Vancouver Island that is safe, accessible, affordable, convenient and green.