Furstenau neglected to mention importance of rail
Re: Vision for public transportation on Vancouver Island
I was surprised at the column by my former CVRD board colleague, Cowichan Valley MLA, and Green Party leader, Sonia Furstenau, regarding her vision for public transportation on Vancouver Island. Having chaired the CVRD Transit Committee for two years, I know getting people out of their cars requires far more than a few buses, for a few commuters, with lower fares. For those able to amortize a current Cowichan commuter bus monthly pass over 20 commutes, a one-way fare works out to $5.10, a savings of nearly 50 per cent over the $10 cash fare. Relying on a single highway to meet the needs of the island for the movement of people and goods has been ineffective for many years.
Vancouver Island needs a comprehensive transportation strategy, one that would integrate ferries, buses, trails, and trains. A vision I could support maximizes the efficiencies of all available modes in an integrated transportation network based around a modern rail system. Now that would remove many cars, trucks, and buses from our lone, crowded highway. The benefits of rail are well documented, including significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The Island Corridor Foundation has been engaged in a conversation with the federal and provincial governments about a significant investment in rail, and the court-imposed deadline on the future of the rail corridor is only weeks away.
B.C.’s 2021 South Island Transportation Strategy estimates typical driving times of 87-144 minutes from Mill Bay to Victoria by 2038. The train service proposed in the ICF’s business case would see at least five round trips, taking 90 minutes, from Duncan to Victoria, and about 65 minutes from Shawnigan Lake, similar to what the Cowichan commuter bus takes today. The train is very resilient to weather and wouldn’t take any longer in 2038, how about buses?
Kerry Davis, vice president
Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition