The metric to assess how dependent a transportation service is on subsidies is commonly referred to as „farebox recovery rate“, which describes what proportion of a service‘s operating costs is actually covered with passenger revenues. Here a few examples from pre-Covid times:
VIA‘s Remote services: ~10-20%
VIA‘s Ocean: ~40%
Transit networks: ~50% (typical value)
Ontario Northland‘s bus services: ~75%
VIA‘s Canadian: ~95%
VIA‘s Corridor services: ~130%
Why invest in the „Northlander“ which is projected to loose more than $3 for every $1 earned in ticket revenues, when Ontario Northland‘s buses only loose one-tenth of that ($0.33 for every $1 earned)?
Why invest in the Northlander when it costs more than half-a-billion in start-up costs, when buses have considerably lower start-up costs as they use the public road network?
Why invest in passenger rail on low-ridership corridors if its per-train-km operating costs are approximately ten (!) times that of an intercity bus?
Much as it pains me to say so, Micheal has a point here...........
In this way.
Highways do nothing but lose money. No tolls (for the vast majority).
We must, at the very least, be orthodox and apply the same standard to each mode, otherwise everything being discussed is a misconception/lie.
Either we charge back each mode for the cost of maintaining its track/travel lane, or we charge nothing back of either.
In which case the cost is solely that of operating the vehicle over 'x' distance.
While a proper calculation may not actually change the result, it might, in select cases.
Lets equally add, while we discuss that fixing the Toronto-Sudbury rail alignment as entirely unreasonable due to cost; that highway 69 has been, is being and will be systematically re-aligned, re-engineered and widened to become Highway 400 along its entire length at a rather substantial cost.
The above is not an argument for Toronto-Sudbury or any other rail service; it is for a fair, consistent standard of evaluation; even if that doesn't change a single business case.