MASSE AND COMARTIN CONDEMN VIA CUTS

Windsor to London Corridor Targeted for Service Reduction

[WINDSOR] The Harper Government’s decision to cut over $41 M out of VIA Rail Canada’s operating budget over the next three years has produced service cuts across Canada that will also impact service in Southwestern Ontario. As of July 29th VIA rail weekend service will be significantly reduced between Windsor and London.

Brian Masse NDP Critic for the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway feels that cuts will only further undermine ridership when investment is needed to improve service: “This is a government that doesn’t believe in rail. The fact that the budget cuts over $40 M to passenger rail in Canada over the next 3 years tells the whole story. We’re seeing jurisdictions all over the world making investments including the State of Michigan who is investing $200 M into rail infrastructure and is actively looking to expand passenger rail capacity through this corridor and this government is telling them they don’t have a dance partner.”

Joe Comartin NDP MP for Windsor Tecumseh believes that service reductions will impact the tourism sector in the region. “Our community is continuing to invest substantial time, energy and resources to promote itself as a tourist destination in order to diversify the regional economy. The net effect of the Harper cuts to VIA will be to undermine those efforts by reducing travel options for tourists.”

Masse has been a strong proponent for rail and believes there are options available to the government and VIA that should be explored: “We need to develop seamless cross-border passenger rail capacity; we could also look at different scheduling formats. Instead of moving forward with a plan for success to increase ridership the Harper government is willing to stand by a play a losing hand.”

Masse also notes that VIA on one hand is investing to improve their infrastructure while reducing service: “We don’t have a coherent rail strategy. VIA has spent millions of dollars to enhance stations across Ontario including Windsor where we are building a brand new station. It doesn’t make sense to cut the hours before we’ve even cut the ribbon to open the new station.”