The Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition is a nonprofit society incorporated under the laws of the Province of British Columbia. Its charter is to bring modern and efficient rail service to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, as the core of the Island's future transportation system. The VITCC tactical work includes growing a broad coalition of partners, including both government and non-government groups, to help achieve these goals. We need your voice!
WHAT DO WE WANT?
Working Towards a Better Tomorrow
The VITCC wants to solve Vancouver Island's growing transportation crisis. While some parts of the Island are relatively free of its effects, many Nanaimo, Duncan, and South Island residents have seen a massive degradation of their commuting times in the last decade. Our Island will benefit from a modern and efficient rail service that integrates with all other forms of transportation including cycling, bus, taxi, park & ride facilities, and more. The facts are that rail service can move people in comfort and with an efficiency of up to twenty-five times less GHG emissions. Freight also is far more efficient to move by rail than any other form of transportation. We are NOT trying to bring back the E&N Dayliner, we seek a NEW transportation corridor with clean and quiet service running on useful schedules to serve ALL Island residents.
Think of the possibilities! Special excursion trains could bring people from all over the Island to a Courtenay base and onto Mount Washington to ski in the winter, mountain bike in the summer, or just to relax. Tourism connections and trips by rail connecting with cruise ships in Nanaimo could also be made over to Port Alberni and along the scenic rail corridor that exists as part of that journey over the pass below Mount Arrowsmith. The positive impacts on tourism are huge. Smaller towns like Chemainus, Ladysmith, Parksville, and Qualicum or even more industrial communities like Port Alberni could see massive economic benefits from such operations. Commuter Rail in the South Island and CRD region to support immense and continuous growth. Intercity Rail running in a configuration such as Nanaimo-Victoria-Courtenay-Victoria-Nanaimo would provide a service that serves everyone and not only a select number. Traveling to the Nanaimo Airport? It is right along the corridor. Regular medical appointments in Victoria could be done in a far more relaxing manner by rail. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that rail also reduces GHG emissions and helps make people's lives better.
Rail is certainly a viable alternative and would directly help alleviate congestion for those that are traveling by road. Buses are not an equal alternative, they’re subject to the same highway delays caused by accidents, traffic, and weather events. A highway closure, traffic congestion, or weather (snow) would NOT affect the rail corridor or any service running on it. Furthermore, the continuous increase and overload of transport trucks and their subsequent safety risks on our Island's highways could also be significantly reduced utilizing the superior freight benefits of rail transport. Restored rail service in ALL forms would be immune to the aforementioned scenarios AND get you and freight up and down the Island safely.
Our members and followers envision passengers being able to hop onto a train running every 20 minutes between Westhills and downtown Victoria and bring their bikes onboard. Bikes can also be integrated into an intercity service serving the full length and entirety of the corridor. We see a workforce that can relax and work on their digital devices while commuting safely, and a local population up and down the Island being better connected between their communities.
We also believe our Island's industries can thrive economically. We want to leave our planet a better place by helping reduce tens of thousands of vehicle trips every day and by building cycling infrastructure alongside the rail right of way.
The mandate of the VITCC is to promote modern rail service as the backbone of the Island's future transportation system. The status quo of continuing to build more roads (currently the focus of the NPD government), is neither a long-term practical nor environmental solution. According to the BC Government's own study, a trip from Mill Bay to Victoria could take as much as two and a half hours by 2038, averaging under 20 KPH!
THE COST OF CHANGE
So far our elected officials have evaluated the cost of rail along the former E&N Line (now renamed the "Island Rail Corridor") solely by economic returns. Using such criteria, how could bike lanes or other public transport like BC Ferries and buses be justified? The answer is clear; they cannot be rationalized solely by economic returns!
We believe we should use economic, social, and environmental metrics.
The cost of doing nothing and allowing climate change to continue is monumental. Rail on Vancouver Island would cost only a fraction of larger projects like the "Broadway Subway" SkyTrain extension ($350 Million vs $3.2 Billion respectively) and service nearly 300 kilometers versus less than 8 kilometers for the SkyTrain extension. Just the Westhills to downtown Victoria portion could potentially remove up to 75,000 vehicle trips every single weekday! At the same time, the restoration would generate over $475 Million in economic stimulus for Vancouver Island according to an independent study. While the South Island Transportation study has realistic cost estimates, it contains a 97% contingency, effectively doubling the cost and why many members of the public have been misled about the true cost of rebuilding the entirety of the Island Rail Corridor to provide modern rail service. These total costs ($350 Million) include the upgrading of rail infrastructure from Victoria to Courtenay and from Parksville to Port Alberni. Additionally, almost all materials sourced for this restoration would come from Vancouver Island itself including ballast, ties, labour, and construction costs. To those saying this total cost is "too much" or "too high" the question should be, compared to what?
We ask you, the reader, to consider the true cost of commuters losing 40 hours every month stuck in traffic. Many industry experts have pointed out that the massive contingencies used by our Provincial government within their study have negatively skewed the economic costs of rail while failing to consider the triple bottom line. A 2020 independent economic study concluded the restoration of modern rail service on the E&N portion will produce a net positive economic result.
THE CARBON TAX SHUFFLE
All Island Residents are paying a Carbon Tax which is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not allow them to continue while merely reaping tax revenues. Where is the logic in such short-term thinking? We have one planet and need to protect it. The environmental result of pouring more concrete (like the Malahat and Mackenzie road work projects) is a continuation of massive GHG emissions while not creating a long-term, viable transportation solution. The fact is that paving and cement work alone are ultra-high Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitters. Add in the pollution from 80,000+ daily vehicle trips on the South Island and our current scenario can be called a complete failure.
The truth is Vancouver Island MLA's do not have a single strategy to reduce CO2 that could even be remotely as successful as shifting to rail, a pattern used successfully by most of the rest of the world. Rail can move both people and freight with far less GHG emissions than any other form of transport. We have the facts to back this up. Many rail manufacturers offer ZERO emission rail solutions today. Full electrification of the line and power from renewable sources can make our transportation CO2 neutral. Rather than incur the upstream costs of electrification, companies like Alstrom offer hydrogen-powered trains that produce no pollution and could travel from Victoria to Courtenay twice on a single refuel. In accordance with the Province of British Columbia's stated usage of revenues from the BC Carbon Tax, our belief is that restoration of Island Rail has already been paid for by the taxpayers of Vancouver Island.
The Society strongly supports integration and cooperation with ALL other forms of transportation such as cycling and pedestrian pathways, as well as ferry, taxi, other public transport integration and to continue to build upon the more than 100+ kilometers of cycling trails alongside the Island Rail Corridor that exists today.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!
It is imperative to hold elected officials accountable and remind them that they have committed to fighting climate change. We, the people, have bucked up our fair share of the Carbon Tax and we must demand it be used to actually fight GHG releases. Pledge your support to vote for only MLA's who will keep their promise to support our future. Our future quality of life depends on it and rail will be inevitable as it has proven to be in every other country in the world as the only green and viable solution to move people and goods. There are two choices - start now (less expensive) or later (more expensive and past the environmental tipping point).
Join us Today! Help us Fight!