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 6 a.m. and not get back until 8 p.m.?
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 B.C. 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 who are unable to use a car (youth, elderly, disabled, low-income) or who 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.
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.
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