Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Proposed new E&N Schedule

I am interested to see that the Island Corridor Foundation is asking to move the terminus of the passenger service from Victoria to Nanaimo to allow for a run south to Victoria in the morning.   The idea being that this would allow for some commuter rail in the region.

If this can be done for a reasonable amount of money and does not require a subsidy per passenger than what is provided for each passenger trip on BC Transit in the Victoria area, I am very much in favour.


  • More use of the infrastructure and the rolling stock meaning the fixed costs are amortized over more passengers
  • Very good access for people living north of the Malahat and going to the Esquimalt Base
  • More rational locating of rolling stock for the whole network


  • The trip times - it is still long trip, currently Shawingan Lake to Esquimalt is one hour, will a commuter train improve on this much?  It is not bad compared to the existing bus service.
  • Taking business away from the existing buses is a possibility.  It is not clear there are enough willing users of transit to have both services get enough passengers.
  • Is the afternoon return trip reasonable?   The idea is that the train would leave Victoria at 6 pm to go back to Nanaimo, but if you arrive at work for 8 am, you will want to leave for home at 4:30 at the latest.  The return trip does not work for commuters


  • What will the fares be?
  • Can the faster time be achieved?   The proposed schedule is for a two hour Nanaimo to Victoria trip, currently that time is 2 hours and 35 minutes, the commuter run would be expected to complete this in 2 hours.   Is that realistic?
I will be interested to see what happens from here with the idea and how it evolves.   My one big concern is that the cost per passenger will be unsustainable.

The Island Corridor Foundation is right to be looking at more use of the rolling stock and I would encourage more exploration of ideas that might work.   As one example, a ski train.   Leave Victoria at 6pm on a Friday and get to Courtney by 9:30 pm and then bus people to Mount Washington.  Return trip on Sunday leaving Courtney at 6 pm.   You package it with room, lift passes and transportation as a single package of $250 to $300 per person based on double occupancy.
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