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From the Z-Files

Web posted on March 19, 2001

The Z-Files
As a frequent Greyhound commuter, and the occasional VIA user, I would love to see the ideas of Transport 2000 brought to life.

In a meeting back on January 29th, Transport 2000 tabled the suggestion that part of the $4.3 million pledge by the Federal Government to improve the VIA Rail System be used to improve the service in the London to Toronto Corridor, which includes Guelph.

Currently we have one train a day that heads into Toronto, at 7:07 a.m. - which is good for the commuters who work there - and one that comes back at 6:48 p.m. - again, for the commuters returning home. What about the rest of us, who just want to head into Toronto for a meeting, see a show, or do some shopping?

Either we spend lots of time wandering around Toronto, or we can catch the Greyhound there and back. For anyone who's ever travelled by Greyhound, you know that's not a pleasant experience.

Going the other way, from Guelph to London, is a different story. There is no way that a commuter, like myself, can get from Guelph to Kitchener before 9 a.m. in order to get to work. Nor is there a way to get home in the evening until the 10 p.m. train.

For those of us who work in Kitchener, and don't have access to a vehicle, we must travel by Greyhound (see my reference above to the comfort of Greyhound).

From what I understand, the monies that have been allocated to VIA are going to be used to purchase more sleeper cars (primarily used between Montreal and Halifax, and Toronto and points west). I further understand that these cars aren't accessible, which is required under Federal law (court challenges are underway as I write this, I believe).

There are an estimated 500,000 users per year in this corridor, why not put some money towards improving the service here?

VIA tried a couple of years ago with the Flexliner pilot project, but they cancelled it after they decided that there wasn't enough ridership to continue. What they didn't mention is that the early morning trains leaving Guelph, and the evening trains returning from Toronto, were packed. From what I've been told, (and what is usually not mentioned), is that when they counted the users, they did not count those who held passes. This is the greatest majority of users).

As a side note, I think if they spent the money to improve the corridor service, traffic on some of our busiest highways (ie. Highway 7) would decrease.

Instead of spending the millions to upgrade Highway 7, or the millions more to build a new road (not to mention the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas), why not throw that money into improving our public transit system?

Respectfully submitted by William Zebedee - regular commuter from Guelph to Kitchener