Here is my $64,000 question, who will be providing the operating subsidy for the commuter rail service? Will this be VIA, the ICF, BC Transit or someone else? This is something important that needs to be figured out soon or the commuter service idea will be still born.
Commuter rail as a concept is all fine and wonderful, but without the idea being championed by someone that will either be operating the service or paying for the service, there is not a lot point in talking about the concept.
I think the idea is that it will be VIA that operates the trains, though this does not tend to be the sort of service they are in anywhere. I can only see it being VIA if the commuter rail is functionally just a better timetable for the existing train. If they operate it, will VIA be the source of subsidy to operate the service?
If it is to be BC Transit, this means the Greater Victoria Transit Commission will have to find some more funds. I am not sure how much interest there is from BC Transit to take on this service. The scale of the subsidy could be significantly problematic.
Does the commuter rail service need the approval of BC Transit or are the existing rights that the ICF or VIA hold for passenger services good enough?
If not VIA or BC Transit, who will do it? Where will the funding come from? These are the two things that need to answered ASAP if the idea is going to move forward.