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Canadian Railroads > $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian


Date: 08/07/19 08:57
$600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: eminence_grise

Canada has a Federal election coming up in October, and the various political parties are actively campaigning.

Via Rail isn't a big issue in the upcoming election which is going to be close as to which political party will govern.

However, just as in times past, someone has calculated the amount of taxpayer funded subsidy per passenger on the "Canadian" and the "Ocean"
The claim is that every long distance passenger on the "Canadian" is subsidized to the tune of $600 and similarly the subsidy per passenger on the "Ocean" is $550.

The "remote services" subsidy was also discussed. This is a Federal subsidy paid to operate a variety of Via services in remote areas where other forms of transportation are not available. In this case, the infrequency of the service on the "Canadian" east of Edmonton is cited, and also the chronic lateness. Many locations where citizens on "remote services"
board Via trains have no shelters or amenities. The argument here is that the persons for whome the "remote services" subsidy are being paid are not getting reliable service for the subsidies paid. The point being made is that a locally operated train specifically for citizens in remote communities would provide more reliable service.

The fact that Via Rail was created by an executive order in council rather than parliamentary legislation by a former Prime Minister , and massive service cuts were carried out by the same Prime Minister and another simply at the stroke of a pen was bought up, and that should a future possible Prime Minister intent on showing taxpayer savings could also cut Via services without consulting the electorate, and would not face significant opposition due to public disinterest was also mentioned.

Will Via become a significant election issue?  In 1990, the high cost of operating long distance passenger trains in Canada was a political issue and Prime Minister Mulroney (Conservative) made political hay talking about hard working Canadian taxpayers funding rich foreign tourists on a luxurious "joy ride". Since that time, other Prime Ministers have ignored the issue, and let Via suffer from a type of benign neglect.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/19 10:07 by eminence_grise.



Date: 08/07/19 09:54
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: joemvcnj

What's the ticket revenue per passenger on each train ?



Date: 08/07/19 10:05
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: eminence_grise

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What's the ticket revenue per passenger on each
> train ?

That wasn't mentioned. Pro-passenger sources point out that tourism is a significant source of revenue and employment which by far out weighs the amount of subsidy paid per passenger.

Rarely is the cost per citizen for highway and airport infrastructure mentioned, if it is those subsidies are seen as the cost of maintaining modern society.

For some politicians, it is a case of "Nobody we know rides a train" (actual quote from a prominent politician in Canada), meaning passenger service cuts will not affect the portion of society that politician cares to represent.



Date: 08/07/19 11:40
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: tomstp

At  $485.12 to fly Toronto to Vancouver maybe they should put them on the airline.



Date: 08/07/19 11:50
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: joemvcnj

There might not be a "they" in that case  They want to ride the train, with all the economic benefits to Canadian tourism. or not go at all. 
Planes do not help the remote towns along the way that have nothing else. 



Date: 08/07/19 20:42
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: thehighwayman

tomstp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> At  $485.12 to fly Toronto to Vancouver maybe
> they should put them on the airline.

At that price, you are crammed into a narrow seat with no leg room and no food.
I have reached the point where, at 72 years of age, my future trips back to my family home in BC from southern Ontario will be by car!
I go west every two years to see kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and siblings.
I would love to take the train, but can't afford it on my pension. I can afford to drive.

 

Will MacKenzie
Dundas, ON



Date: 08/07/19 23:06
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: railsmith

eminence_grise Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> The "remote services" subsidy was also discussed.
> This is a Federal subsidy paid to operate a
> variety of Via services in remote areas where
> other forms of transportation are not available.
> In this case, the infrequency of the service on
> the "Canadian" east of Edmonton is cited, and also
> the chronic lateness. Many locations where
> citizens on "remote services"
> board Via trains have no shelters or amenities.
> The argument here is that the persons for whome
> the "remote services" subsidy are being paid are
> not getting reliable service for the subsidies
> paid.

VIA does not get specific subsidies for remote services. It gets two lump sums annually from the federal government -- one for operating purposes, one for capital purposes. It is expected to subsidize all of its trains -- the remote services included -- from the funding within the lump sum budget allocations. My source for this is the man who oversaw VIA's budget on behalf of Transport Canada for three decades.

Transport Canada does have a Remote Passenger Rail Program that provides specific subsidies to non-VIA remote services -- Tshiuetin Rail Transportation (TRT) in Quebec and Labrador (from Sept-Iles to Schefferville) and Keewatin Railway Company (KRC) in Northern Manitoba (from The Pas to Pukatawagan). The funding amounts to $13.4 million per year.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/19 23:10 by railsmith.



Date: 08/08/19 03:13
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: andersonb109

Saying "they should be put on a plane" is comparing apples to oranges. Two totally different markets...sort of. On my nearly annual trip on the Canadian, I always fly one direction or the other to save time and money. Four nights out is great but enough. 



Date: 08/08/19 05:38
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: joemvcnj

What did Transport Canada do with the money they used to give to the ACR Hearst local and the ONR Northlander ? 



Date: 08/08/19 05:50
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: DrawingroomA

The subsidy per passenger, especially on long-haul routes, is not the most useful information. The subsidy per passenger-mile is a better indication.  This information is available on VIA’s annual report for 2018.
 
Some examples:
 
Corridor East - $34.27 per passenger; $0.17 per passenger-mile
Southwestern Ontario (excluding Toronto-Niagara Falls)-  $20.19 pp; $0.17 ppm
Toronto-Niagara Falls (Maple Leaf) $97.54 pp; $1.23 ppm
The Canadian - $596.15 pp; $0.48 ppm
The Ocean - $544.23 pp; $1.03 ppm
Winnipeg-Churchill - $1227.22 pp; $7.30 ppm
Montreal-Senneterre - $627.03 pp; $3.29 ppm
 
The biggest change over the past few years was for the Canadian. In the first full year of Prestige service the total loss was reduced by $15 million.
 



Date: 08/08/19 09:19
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: joemvcnj

Farebox recovery is also a useful measure. If you rank the trains, it correlates closely with Subsidy Per Passenger Mile, though not exactly. 

Notice how awful the Maple Leaf is. When VIA had a 2nd frequency, I wonder what those numbers were then ?



Date: 08/08/19 10:00
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: Chessie

Spot on.  I flew Air Canada west in March to ride #2 VCVR-TRTO.  Hands down worst flight I've ever been on.  Knees in the seat in front of me, not so much as a peanut or pretzel in six hours.  I've had far better legroom in far smaller planes.  It should also be noted I spent nine nights in hotels, 8.5 days meals, gas, and other tourism related expenditures before boarding the train, much of it in what most would define as remote towns. 

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> There might not be a "they" in that case  They
> want to ride the train, with all the economic
> benefits to Canadian tourism. or not go at all. 
> Planes do not help the remote towns along the way
> that have nothing else. 



Date: 08/08/19 12:03
Re: $600 per passenger subsidy on the Canadian
Author: eminence_grise

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What did Transport Canada do with the money they
> used to give to the ACR Hearst local and the ONR
> Northlander ? 

A frequent issue with designated Government funds is that if they are not used for their stated purpose, they are redirected into "general revenue".

Some provincial Governments have "borrowed" from designated funds and not re-paid into them when required, apparently without consequences.



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