Transport Action BC

2014, December 5

“BC on the Move” Online Survey Closes Soon

The BC Government’s online survey for its latest 10 year transportation plan closes on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone announced the next 10-year transportation plan (“BC on the Move”) and consultation in October 2014. Consultation documents and details are here. Take the survey here.

SFU’s Gordon Price notes that funding for the planned projects is not subject to voter approval even though Vancouver area transit projects are subject to a “Yes” vote in the upcoming transit funding referendum. According to Price, the plan continues the province’s current highway projects with a bit of a sop thrown to cycling and transit.

The plan does mention rail but only as a mode for moving bulk goods and containers efficiently. Improvements to / support of intercity bus and rail passenger services are not considered.


2014, May 8

Town Hall Meeting Tonight in Vancouver

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 11:01 am

Harry Gow, president of Transport Action Canada, will be leading a town hall meeting in Vancouver.

Thu May 8, 2014

7:00 to 9:00 PM
Brix Studio, 102 – 211 Columbia St., Gastown
Buzzer #102 for entry.
Organiser: Transport Action BC

Transit Access to Brix Studio

Transit Access to Brix Studio

Vancouver -  POSTER ENGLISH - 2014-04-29

NDR BC Poster

2014, April 25

The National Dream Renewed – Western Town Halls – May 2014


The National Dream Renewed – Le Rêve national renouvelé
Tapping the Potential of Canada’s rail passenger service
Western tour: May 2014 – Consultant/Conférencier Dr. Harry Gow

Vancouver  (May 8 – 07:00 to 09:00 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Brix Studio, 102-211 Columbia St. (Gastown), Buzzer #102 for entry.

Organiser: Transport Action BC. RSVP to


Victoria (May 9 – 06:00 to 10:00 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Ambrosia Centre, 638 Fisgard St.

Co-sponsors: Elizabeth  May MP, Green Party of Canada; Dr. Judith Sayers, Island Corridor Foundatioon.

Read Ms. May’s blog post  on the crisis in Canada’s passenger rail system here.


Melville, SK (May 11 – 07:30 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Community Works, 800 Prince Edward St.

Organiser: Ron Haskell, Melville; Transport Action Prairie


Winnipeg (May 13 – 06:30 PM) :
Town Hall meeting: Carol Shields Auditorum, Millenium Centre Winnipeg Central Library

Organiser Peter Lacey, Winnipeg;  Transport Action Prairie

Dr. Harry Gow:

Harry Gow was born February 3rd, 1939 and raised at Invermere, British Columbia and Banff, Alberta inter alia.

He was Founding President of Transport Action Canada (formerly Transport 2000 Canada, from 1976) and is now its Past President and Newsletter Editor.

After serving in the Army in Calgary, Wainright and Camp Borden, Gow went on to five years with the Canadian Pacific Railway in engineering support roles. After graduation from Carleton University, Gow had a career in corrections and social work, which he began as Probation Officer, then Corrections Administrator.

After obtaining a Master’s degree from McGill University, he was a Health and Social services Director and then international consultant and teacher (York U., UQAM institutes). During all this time Gow maintained contact with the railways and found time to organise Transport 2000 (Action) Canada, as a passenger advocacy group. He led a seminar at Carleton University on economic and environmental aspects of transport for Honours engineering and geography students.

Gow was Field Placement Coordinator at the University of Ottawa Department of Criminology and taught intervention methods and seminars for practicum integration and other intervention, before retirement in 2001, when he became leader of a research action project for Health Canada on the effects of provision of rural transit to deprived populations.

Gow is now a consultant in rural community transit and rail and urban transit. He was a member of the Ottawa Mayor’s Task Force on Transportation which recommended the $2 billion Light Rail project now underway, and a member of a group consulting in the field of short line railways and commuter services. He is currently consultant to les Transports adaptés et collectifs des Collines, and for Transport Action Canada on a national speaking tour.

Gow brings a unique perspective on transportation with a blend of engineering, social and environmental knowledge and insights. He is often invited by media to comment on transportation safety issues and passenger concerns.

Previous posts are here and here.

2012, June 24

VIA to cut The Canadian?

Filed under: Inter-city rail — Tags: , , , , — Rick @ 4:39 pm

VIA Rail Canada  was to announce service cuts  at its May 29, 2012 Annual Public Meeting. The announcement has apparently been postponed to June 27, 2012, after Parliament has adjourned for the summer recess. This is similar to the manner in which VIA Rail service was slashed on previous occasions – do the dirty work when Parliament is not sitting and the media is not focused on day-to-day government actions.

And, once again, the service cuts would disproportionately affect the eastern and western long distance trains.

The 1990 service cuts reduced services in the west from 14 trains per direction per week (daily service over two routes) to three (tri-weekly service on one route). This bare-bones service level is to be further reduced to two during the winter months. VIA’s transcontinental route should offer a minimum of daily service, with additional offerings between major city-pairs. Service should also be available on the southern CPR route from Winnipeg to Vancouver. VIA Rail Canada is not VIA Rail Corridor; it is supposed to serve all Canadians.

Service cuts are not the only way of dealing with operating costs. Other options are:
• Improve network connectivity.
• Partnerships to increase ridership and revenue.
• More efficient operating practices.

Consider the Skeena and Canadian, both of which serve Jasper. The Skeena used to depart Edmonton in the late afternoon, travel overnight through Jasper to Prince George and daytime from Prince George to Prince Rupert. Currently, it runs from Jasper to Prince George daytime, leaving Jasper minutes before the arrival of the train from Toronto and Edmonton. It stays overnight in Prince George and then goes daytime to Prince Rupert. On the return trip, it arrives in Jasper just after the train for Edmonton and Toronto has left. It still takes two train sets, but there are no sleeping cars (passengers are responsible for their Prince George accommodation). VIA treats this as a tourist train and not part of a passenger rail network. How much additional ridership and revenue would be generated if the Skeena and Canadian made connections in Jasper?

Or could VIA increase ridership and revenue on the Skeena, if it worked with local agencies and First Nations to improve transportation options for local communities along its route? The Skeena’s route parallels B.C.’s Highway of 16, the so-called Highway of Tears. A major issue for residents is the inability to travel unless one has automobile access. For those who don’t, hitchhiking is considered a viable option in spite of the danger potential. VIA partnerships with other agencies in the corridor could improve the lives of local residents and VIA’s economic and social bottom-line.

Operationally, VIA could make its well-used Corridor services more effective by using cab control cars as the rear car. Thus, VIA could eliminate the cost and delay required to turn train consists in Montréal, Québec City, Niagara Falls, Sarnia and Windsor. This is common practice on other intercity and commuter rail operations. Turning trains requires additional time, labour and trackage, all of which increase operating costs. Eliminating the practice would reduce VIA’s costs, speed-up train turn-around time and have trains spending more time carrying passengers.

VIA Rail Canada needs to be the Canadian rail passenger network dedicated to serving Canadians efficiently, responsively and cost effectively. The key is firmly establishing VIA as a ‘real’ Crown Corporation with legislated powers, responsibilities and accountability to Parliament. The current ‘non-entity’ is governed by various Orders in Council, micro-managed by Transport Canada and Treasury Board and subject to the vagaries of anti-rail bureaucrats. With a properly legislated VIA, the company could concentrate on building a rail passenger network that integrates with other carriers – local and intercity transit, ferries and remote air services – and serves all Canadians.

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