August 24, 2013

Dear Mr Laliberté,

One has to question VIA Rail’s long term commitment to passenger rail service between Matapedia and Gaspe. With the recent announcement of the closing of 4 stations and the elimination of 6 station agents in the region, VIA has said that 70% of their clientele purchase their tickets online. Do the math, that would leave 30% of the people in these affected communities unable to buy their tickets. This ‘modernization’ will mean less passengers taking the train. I wonder how much money that will save.

Then on August 22, VIA Rail announced that effective September 18 that it is abandoning the Gaspe line altogether. The track is currently not able to safely run passenger trains. So until the necessary repairs have been made, Via has been running buses between New Carlisle and Gaspe, and recently between Matapedia and Gaspe. All of sudden VIA has announced, “Until such time, in order to ensure the safety of passengers, VIA Rail will cease selling tickets for service between Matapédia, New Carlisle and Gaspé and remove the temporary bus service after September 17.” I’m confused to what not running buses have to do with the safety of passengers. The end of this temporary bus service is yet another sure way to discourage people from taking the train when it does comes back.

So I urge VIA Rail to stop acting in bad faith and immediately arrange to reinstate the temporary bus service between Matapedia and Gaspe, and between New Carlisle and Gaspe until these sections are safe to run passenger trains.

Yours truly,

Barry Brake
Montreal, QC

cc
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport
Olivia Chow, Official Opposition Transport Critic
Marc Garneau, MP Westmount--Ville-Marie
The Gaspé Spec