Friday, February 22, 2013

Ominous News for the Ocean

VIA Rail's president, Marc Laliberté, delivered a speech to the Canadian Club in Montreal on February 11 entitled "Change, transformation, modernization and collaboration".

VIA's accompanying press release contains some interesting data on ridership on 2011 versus 2012, including some ominous numbers for the Ocean.

This paragraph is particularly damning:
For the long-distance routes, adjustments to the frequency in scheduling that took effect during the fourth quarter improved the performances for the Ocean and the Canadian. The occupancy rate for both of the services reached 67% in November and December 2012, compared to 58% for the same period in 2011. The average number of passengers per train improved on both trains, up from 121 in 2011 to 126 in 2012 for the Ocean between Montréal and Halifax. The Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver welcomed 168 passengers on average in 2012, compared to 148 in 2011. (emphasis mine)

Remember that the Ocean was cut from 6 trains/week to 3 trains/week... yet ridership only improved by 5 people per train, on average. If you believed VIA's rhetoric, ridership per train should have jumped by much more than 4% as people just took the next day's train. What seems to have happened is that people who would have ridden the cancelled trains found another method of transportation.

Despite VIA's words about intermodality, word is that the Ocean is just missing connections with the Maritime Bus service. Let's suppose we want to go from Montreal to Saint John. The Ocean is supposed to arrive in Moncton at 12:45 and the bus leaves at 1 PM. Sadly the Ocean is usually not on time and it misses the bus, which doesn't wait for the train. The connection is too tight. And if you want to grab a bus at Truro to head south... wayyy too late. At least you can catch the westbound train with the current schedule.

Transport Action Atlantic is fighting to raise awareness of the slow death of the Ocean and they need your support. Read their plain words on the VIA cuts. You can start to help by joining them or the national organization Transport Action.

You can read Marc's speech here.

No comments: