Rail funding not enough to make a difference

Funders should cover off other programs or step fully up to plate on rail

Re: Island rail project gains momentum (News, Jan. 25)

So the Island Corridor Foundation will receive $1.2 million from the CRD, $5.4 million from the five regional districts and $15 million from the federal and provincial governments to “… hopefully restore VIA rail service and initiate commuter rail service to Victoria.”

The intent is great, but what will this money accomplish? Victoria is spending nearly $100 million to replace a small bridge. I understand there are many bridges on the E&N Railway that are older and more poorly maintained than the Blue Bridge.

We spent more than $1 million refurbishing the Kinsol Trestle to support walkers and cyclists, not heavy, high-speed rail equipment. The E&N has nearly 100 kilometres of track that needs to be totally replaced. Walk it yourself and see if you believe the existing line would be safe with minor tie replacements. The E&N has no rolling stock and no staff or operating budget.

Are our elected representatives making purely political spending decisions, or will they produce a better transportation system? If they do open the door to improved transit, what is the future cost of following up on these initial expenditures?

If we are we going to pledge our future taxes and those of our children to an ever-escalating investment which has no return until fully completed, we should look at total costs and revenues, not just spread a little here and there with the hope of ‘catching the big one’ some day. A rail system may be the answer to some of Victoria’s transportation problems, but at what cost per passenger?

Seems to me that a little advanced planning by our leaders would stop this cash dribble before it starts. That money would serve a much better purpose if it was redirected to the homeless or drug rehabilitation.

Let’s stop pretending these piddly sums will have any impact on local transit. These minor budget allocations will be absorbed by consultant fees and some minor maintenance.

Best to fund it adequately or not fund it all all. This is a cheap, vote-buying effort and should be exposed as such.

Jim Knock

Esquimalt

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