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^^Really, the answer is that the Government needs to get rail under control. Our current rail infrastructure is ancient and managed horribly. Probably around 70 years old on average, and our trains are 50.

We've got to be the most pathetic commonwealth country out there. Everywhere else has at least adequate rail service, and many countries have rather competitive rail service. Not us, we've almost totally ditched the train. For VIA, one of their most popular routes is for tourists, and the other most popular one, which services over 10 million people, averages about 50 kilometers an hour.

All we need is improvements. Heavily used lines should have more than 2 tracks. There could be a ton of improvements in line management, allowing for better freight and passenger travel. We should be building high speed infrastructure on our heaviest routes. Is there even one part of our system that's electrified? What about more modern cars?

We're supposed to be one of those proud British colonies, I don't get how our rail infrastructure is so pathetic. It's probably how close we are to the US, but even they have an adequate rail system, and they're making plans to have a top-notch one.
 
Comparison to Europe and US is difficult because you must remember that our population density is very sparse on average, but dense in certain areas. We should be investing heavily in rail in those areas but we are not and wont be in the foreseeable future.

Canada has always been and continues to be an under-achieving nation. The country hasn't invested in infrastructure heavily since the 1970's and it shows. While the US and other nations invest in infrastructure to boost the economy, our governments are still going through with onerous EA's and approvals.

Just look at the Toronto area as an example. Transit project funding announced in April, yet not a single construction crew has began to dig the new lines.

In such rural locations as Northern Ontario and Manitoba, the population density is so low that building rail infrastructure is very expensive and not profitable to operate. Only government run services would work here. Greyhound is cutting service there because they are losing money in southern Ontario due to Porter and the competition cutting prices in the YYZ-YOW-YUL triangle.

I don't think the government should subsidize private enterprise on money-losing routes. If these towns need community bus service, then the government should raise taxes and operate their own shuttle service to the main routes.
 
Failing cross-subsidization is a problem in a number of areas in the transportation industry since much of the industry based its pricing structure on the premise of cross subsidization for years.

Deregulation in the air industry changed the way that airlines could fund unprofitable routes. It used to cost $400 each way (not that many years ago) to fly to Ottawa from Toronto, regardless how far in advance you booked. This allowed Air Canada to keep the prices down on flights to destinations that had few passengers. Those small destinations are now having to pay more, or are no longer served by Air Canada.

The same discussion is now being had in the north, where the northern airlines have been subsidizing their flights to little communities by overcharging the Yellowknife-Edmonton passengers. Now Westjet has moved in with reasonable fares and the cost structure in the north is endangered.

Personally, I've always thought that if someone deserves to be subsidized, the government should do it, not other consumers.

EDIT: I want to be clear that I think it is great that I can fly to Ottawa for $250 after taxes return and don't ever want to see the old regulations come back. If people in Northern Ontario have to pay higher fares, that is the price you pay for living in a remote community. If you consider that to be a problem that needs fixing, the government should do the fixing directly, not through grabbing money from other consumers.
 
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Maybe if the bus companies get out of northern Ontario we can open up the market In southern ON. No more monopolies on the big routes like TO to Ottawa
 
If you had complete deregulation, maybe you would start to see some multi-modal passenger service.

What if Porter, for example, were to start bus service from Toronto to Kingston linking up with their flights out the island but also selling service to downtown to non-airline passengers.

Are they prohibited from doing that now? Could they charge for a Porter Shuttle to Kingston?
 
In such rural locations as Northern Ontario and Manitoba, the population density is so low that building rail infrastructure is very expensive and not profitable to operate. Only government run services would work here. Greyhound is cutting service there because they are losing money in southern Ontario due to Porter and the competition cutting prices in the YYZ-YOW-YUL triangle.

Maybe if the people in rural areas didn't have to send their taxes to support the evil people in places like Toronto, they'd have money to build better infrastructure. Those big city freeloaders should pay for their own streetcars. :rolleyes:
 
Maybe if the people in rural areas didn't have to send their taxes to support the evil people in places like Toronto, they'd have money to build better infrastructure. Those big city freeloaders should pay for their own streetcars. :rolleyes:
That assumes that the government pays more per capita for services and projects for city dwellars than rural dwellars. Generally the subsidies to support someone who lives in the middle of nowhere are much higher than those living in dense urban areas.

And that ignores that government income from people and business in urban areas is generally higher per capita than people in rural areas.
 
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I wonder if this even means the end of the cross-Canada Greyhound bus service, which would strand peope without cars in places like Wawa, Marathon, Dryden, Kenora. Thunder Bay would only have the airport, it being way off VIA's only remaining transcontinental route. Funny thing, because of VIA, small places like Chapleau (the remote RDC) and Sioux Lookout and Hornepayne would at least have thrice-weekly trains.

Ontario Northland goes as far up Highway 11 as Hearst (from there all the way to Toronto!), with buses to Timmins as well from Highway 11 and Toronto-Sudbury, serving Northeastern Ontario quite well.

They've said the further west they will go in Ontario is Sault Ste. Marie - so no more cross country grey hound trips. Not surprising considering Winnipeg was the transfer point for buses on the cross country route.
 
They've said the further west they will go in Ontario is Sault Ste. Marie - so no more cross country grey hound trips.

The price of flying has come down enough that I can't imagine too many people are doing cross country bus trips anymore, except perhaps for the tourists that want to see the whole country. People used to travel a long way by bus, but now it is so cheap to fly that most people are doing that, even within the same province.

I just checked Greyhound. If I want to go from Toronto to Thunder Bay today, it will be $222.60 after tax. I would leave at 12:30pm this afternoon and arrive at 9:20 a.m. tomorrow (a total trip of 20 hours and 50 minutes). Or I could take Porter at 3:20pm this afternoon and arrive at 5:15pm this afternoon for $212.80 after tax. [EDIT: VIA to Sioux Lookout (they don't go to Thunder Bay) is $345 and takes 27 hours.]

If I wait until tomorrow morning to go, I could take Porter at 10:20am and arrive at 12:15pm for $160 after tax.

Which do I take? Bus or Plane?

Another example: Halifax by bus, 32 hours and 40 minutes and you change buses in Ottawa, Montreal, Ste. Foy and Riviere to Loup. $157. Halifax by Porter this afternoon, 3 hours with a stop in Ottawa. $259. The plane is more expensive, but much much faster. [EDIT: VIA to Halifax tomorrow $315 and 28 hours]
 
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Good point, here are the cheapest fares available on 5 Oct 09. Incidentally, as it turns out, my bus fares above don't include tax.

Thunder Bay
Bus: $105.79 14-day advance
Porter: $150.85

Halifax
Bus: $172.20 (but I suppose Greyhound doesn't actually go there)
VIA: $173.25
Air Canada: $179.20
Porter: $171.85

Saskatoon
Bus: $111.30 21-day advance
VIA: $321.30 Economy Supersaver
AC/Westjet: $291.55

Porter needs to move into the Saskatoon market to bring down the prices.
 
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I can't help but point out that if Greyhound finds in unprofitable to send a bus to these places every now and then, rail service is almost by definition unprofitable. There is no rail vehicle in existence which make sense to use on these routes, they are all too big and too expensive to serve towns that are too small. The Kenora riding's density is 1/5th of a person per square km for the love of god, nobody lives there. Most people here like trains and all, but lets be real that there is no logical reason to think rail service would serve these communities well.

Transport wise, the only logical way is to seriously deregulate the bus industry. If it doesn't make sense to run a full blown Coach through x,y,z Ontario, maybe it would make sense to drive a Dodge Sprinter. I'm pretty sure that's how some communities in Sask. get served, and it is fairly logical if you think of it. There is at least no reason to not let someone try, but for some reason we seem intent on regulating that only a few bus companies can operate these routes. It makes little sense.
 
^^ Rail uses fuel a lot more efficiently than busses do. Rail also has the potential to go much faster than busses, maybe even twice as fast compared to those northern ontario roads. As gas prices get higher and higher, that extra fuel efficiency gives rail a big advantage over road.

Rail also has the advantage of higher speeds. Rail could potentially go at over 300 kilometers per hour, while highways have a top (congestion free) speed of just over 120 km/h. I'm not expecting Northern Ontario to get HSR, but max 160 km/h seems doable. Considering that those Northern Ontario roads aren't the best (probably max 100 km/h,) rail could have a big speed edge on cars (and busses.)

Most of the towns in Northern Ontario were also built on the rail lines. Because of this, most of the towns have rail lines going straight through them, while the highway is a couple kilometers away, which saves more time.

Rail is also a lot more comfortable than a bus or car, due to the smoothness of steel wheels. Too bad not many people care about actual comfort anymore though. If it's comfort vs. speed, speed always wins in the modern age.
 
Perhaps Manitoba and the other provinces can set up bus systems like the one in Saskatchewan?
Saskatchewan's bus system (STC) is a provincially owned crown corporation.
I'm not sure whether there is a political appetite in other provinces (i.e. Ontario) to set up a system like this.

Speaking of which, American companies seem to loathe the concept of crown corporations like STC, yet if it weren't for crowns like STC, then dozens of communities in Saskatchewan would have no intercity bus service whatsoever.
http://www.stcbus.com/Locations/l_pointsofservice.aspx
This underscores one of the reasons why Saskatchewanians are passionate about their crown corporations.

I hope that some sort of revenue-sharing agreement can be found to preserve alternatives for travel from places like Dryden to Thunder Bay. It will probably require some sort of government subsdidy; but considering that the government subsidizes VIA Rail, then I think bus services in Northern Ontario also deserves to be subsidized.
 

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