Rail integral after Blue Boats gone

With the termination of the Blue Boat commuter service set for April 30

With the termination of the Blue Boat commuter service set for April 30, urgency for a replacement shuttle between the western communities and CFB Esquimalt — and by extension, Uptown and downtown Victoria — becomes apparent.

Running three Budd cars in tandem as a shuttle on the E&N railroad, from Langford to Victoria West, might address the need for capacity on the commute. The train would need to make at least two trips each in the morning and evening to provide enough rush-hour capacity.

Potential rail commuters should be asked to sign up for the service and indicate their desired arrival times and normal departure times from specified destinations.

This is required to plan both schedules and capacity for the rail shuttle and matching bus capacity from home to the Langford station in the morning and returning in the evening.

It is also needed to match shuttle bus capacities at the train stop at CFB Esquimalt, and at the Victoria West terminus, to forward commuters to and from their final destinations.

This rail commute might need to be continued indefinitely, to serve particular commuter destinations in the core communities, even after the proposed light-rail transit is operating between Langford and downtown Victoria.

The rail commute could be implemented quickly at little cost. It should help prevent a worsening of traffic congestion on the Trans-Canada Highway and on Island Highway when the Blue Boat service is terminated, and it might relieve some of the existing congestion.

Two potential side benefits to this rail commute are easing some of the bus congestion in downtown Victoria and establishing commuter loyalty and cash flow for the E&N, to help it extend compatible services to communities north of Langford.

Ideally, a single daily or weekly commuter card could be developed to facilitate travel in both directions by rail and shuttle bus between Langford and destinations in the core communities.

Howard Willis

Victoria