In an unprecedented call to action, ALL 13 Capital Regional District Mayors unanimously declared they need rail service, commencing with modern commuter services running between Westhills/Langford and Victoria. According to a 1909-era historic railway timetable, the trip from the 6 Mile pub to the downtown Victoria terminus took only 18 minutes, using steam engine technology which accelerates far slower than modern electric railway technology. The same trip during rush hour takes an estimated 48 minutes each way, with approximately 85,000 individual vehicles making the trip on any weekday.
The thirteen mayors have asked BC premier John Horgan's NDP to make good on his personal pre-election promise to immediately restore the rail service. The mayors have unanimously called on the province to immediately commit funding for the first section of the E&N rail line.
VIDEO: John Horgan stating he is "passionate" to get rail service restored. So what happened?
Support is visible in all municipalities. “The E&N corridor is a significant transportation corridor for the region and Vancouver Island. We must begin to make the necessary and long overdue investments in this corridor,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech. He is not the only mayor to come out strongly in support of rail.
“The impacts of inadequate transportation infrastructure on the Langford to Victoria corridor are dramatic. It negatively impacts our quality of life, reduces family time, damages the performance of our economy and adds to GHG emissions. Provincial leadership is respectfully called for,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.
CO2 Tax revenue to fund rail?
Citizens of Vancouver Island should seriously consider that they have already paid the bill for full restoration of rail service. The BC Carbon Tax revenue was shifted from being revenue neutral to a stated mandate to encourage new green initiatives , according to the governments own website. A recent economic impact report has also shown that an initial investment of a mere $305 million would generate in excess of $475 million and create 2200 person years or employment, a much needed economic stimulus for Vancouver Island.
So what is the holdup?
The NDP government once more commissioned more studies on the Vancouver Island rail infrastructure. Once the report was completed, the results once more stayed in the legislatures hands with no action being taken. It is notable that the Island Corridor Foundation, the owner of the rail asset, does not require the provincial governments permission to revitalize and restart rail service on Vancouver Island. The ICF currently possesses the legal right to restart rail service at any time, yet has taken extraordinary steps to attempt to work with the BC Government to ensure any rail service that is implemented is fully integrated with other forms of transportation including existing transit, taxi services, park and ride facilities, cycling (including the ability to bring bikes on board), pedestrian and even mini-ferry traffic in the inner harbor. The ball is clearly in the BC Government's hands to make a decision.
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