The former E&N Railway station in Langford has been touted in the past as a potential stop or terminus of a commuter rail system to downtow Victoria.

Market test needed for commuter rail

Saanich resident writes in response to a letter about commuter rail in Greater Victoria.

Re: Regional commuter rail system could pay for itself (Letters, Aug. 10)

Eric Neilson’s verbose letter has three notable points. The E&N track only serves a limited market, primarily CFB Esquimalt and associated dockyards, as Victoria eliminated tracks on the Johnson Street Bridge and commuters don’t want a long walk or another route transfer. It is worthwhile if the cost is low, but it seems late now to help the McKenzie interchange.

Neilson advocates user pay, a very good principle. But in competition with subsidized roads, the only attraction might be higher speed, which saves the one scarce resource – individual human time. It is, however, pie-in-the-sky at this point given the timing and the lack of a market test before Victoria abandoned the E&N on the new bridge.

What has been needed for decades is a modest market test of commuter rail using the E&N trackage. Recall that harbour ferries here were a dismal failure, but the airport leg of the Skytrain in Vancouver has been quite successful – all surprises. Without a test, advocates of rail transit are just theorizing.

Unfortunately Neilson throws in a gratuitous xenophobic scheme to force local manufacturing, a hypocritical approach given the trade of manufacturers here, and the amount of money coming here from taxpayers of B.C., tourists, and retirees. Manufacturers have to perform, government meddling instead results in failures like management of the E&N trackage.

Keith Sketchley

Saanich

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