Island Rail off track

Michael Smith of Ladysmith suggests axing rail service along the Island Rail Corridor to make way for a cycling and pedestrian route.

Editor:

In the Aug. 16 Cowichan Valley Citizen, Jean Crowder states that “Islanders clearly want passenger rail service.”

The Islanders I’ve spoken to clearly do not want the extra tax burden associated with an underused and heavily subsidized rail service.

The Island rail committee speaks of a maximum subsidy by VIA of only $1.8 million per year, plus the initial investment in upgraded equipment.

Ask yourself, why would VIA want to contribute any subsidy?

On top of that, some $30 million is required to upgrade rail beds and trestles to ensure the safety of our 158 daily passengers.

It all sounds very comforting when you think of spreading the tax burden between the Feds, the Province, the regional districts and the municipalities, but guess what. all this money comes from one source: you, the taxpayer!

One truly economical and widely accepted use for the E&N rail bed: fill the space between the rails with gravel, and I’ll bet you will see constant and welcome use by cyclists and pedestrians all along the line, at very little further cost to taxpayers.

Not only that, but think of the savings to our medical system from getting some of us off our butts!

You want a truly useful commuter rail system on the Island, set it up between the Western communities and Victoria where there will be many commuters and the service might even pay for itself.

If there is a business case justifying the enormous cost of perpetuating this dinosaur, why haven’t we seen it?

Clearly, it is not justifiable on economic terms.

Michael Smith

Ladysmith