Letter June 26: Faulty math and a faulty plan on E&N rail corridor

Re: “What should we do with the E&N Island rail corridor?” commentary, June 21.

In his effort to convince us that the Island rail corridor be turned into a walking trail, Guy Dauncey says the cost of rail service would amount to a subsidy of $30,000 to $40,000 per rider per year, for 16 years.

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Those are big numbers and they are meant to shock people. They are also wrong.

The numbers are from the recently released assessment on the cost to bring rail back to the Island. Dauncey uses the lowest level of service outlined in the report, correctly states the cost of that service is $326 million, and spreads that cost over 20 years for an annual cost of $16.2 million.

The stated $30,000 annual cost per rider is based on only 543 people using the service each year, or just under two people each day: 543 riders multiplied by $30,000 equals $16.2 million. The forecast ridership from the assessment estimates close to 500 riders on the intercity route and more than 1,000 on the commuter routes each day. That forecast does not include revenue from freight or excursion/tourist operations.

Dauncey also says we can avoid these costs by putting all these potential riders on a “comfy commuter coach” departing every 15 minutes from Nanaimo to Victoria. So we are going to put up to 32 buses a day onto an already congested and constricted highway?

No thanks.

Rail travel is the answer to many of our issues, both on Vancouver Island and the rest of the world. Rail transportation is recognized worldwide as the way to go.

Mayors and First Nations up and down the Island, Transport Action Canada and Transport Action B.C. as well as many other influential and important organizations support the restoration of the rail corridor for multiple rail usage.

We can’t afford to waste this valuable asset.

Jack Peake

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