VIA Rail Canada’s Ocean route not saving money with reduced service

May 15, 2015

The Ocean links Montreal in Quebec with Halifax, Nova Scotia in the part of the country known as Atlantic Canada

The rail link between Montreal and Halifax, known as the Ocean, celebrated its 110th anniversary last year.

But there’s little to cheer about in the latest financial information about the three-day-a-week service.

The Ocean continues to lose passengers and money.

In 2014, 74,175 people boarded the Ocean — that’s 2,100 people less than the 76,337 passengers in 2013.

The line ran at a deficit of $35.6 million last year. That’s $2 million more than the year before. But the president of the public transit lobby group, Transport Action Atlantic, is not discouraged by the figures.

Ted Bartlett said the numbers point to the need to increase service rather than cut it.

“It’s quite apparent that VIA hasn’t really saved any money by cutting back the frequency of service,” said Bartlett.

“They’ve just made it a less valuable service to Atlantic Canadians.”

He says when you cast back to 2011 — the last full year the Ocean ran six days a week rather than half of that — the numbers tell the story.

During that year, the Ocean carried 134,000 passengers, 45 per cent more than today.

When you compare government funding per-passenger, the service costs $0.55 per passenger in 2011. That cost today is 41 per cent higher, $0.93 per passenger.

Read the full story by Jean Laroche of CBC News by clicking here.

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