> The CFUW Transportation project, gettingthere.ca, was a member of the SWOTA (Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance) delegation at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on April 28th in London. The guest of honour was M. Yves Desjardins Siciliano, the President of VIA Rail, speaking on the future of VIA Rail in SW Ontario. A new vision for VIA was painted by Desjardins-Siciliano, aimed at restoring the VIA image and reliability. Chief in the list of new directions was a drive to acquire a dedicated rail line across SW Ontario, to enable on-time high performance passenger rail without delays from freight traffic. This is, of course, a long term plan, as rail, monies, and construction become available.
A more immediate vision directly involves the rolling stock, or passenger cars, in which we travel. They are old. They break down and are therefore unreliable. On a timetable reaching into 2017, cars are being removed and refurbished, to provide rail travellers with a more modern, reliable and pleasurable ride experience. Looking at both the efficiency needs of current travellers, and the environmental and expediency concerns of young professionals, VIA will be enhancing services along the London corridor, seeing London as an eventual hub. Further initiatives will take place in packaging fares for seniors, students and commuters.
Changes to the services for the North Line through Stratford were not discussed at this presentation. Although the line was mentioned, additional trains were not. To the credit of VIA Rail, and to the credit of President Desjardins-Siciliano, there continues to be a willingness to dialogue and to visit communities for which public transportation is a vital link to business, social, health and education services. We look forward to an opportunity to discuss the critical importance of public transportation needs to the communities along the North Line on June 16th in Stratford, also at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
> The Rogers Cable “What’s Up Stratford?” show on April 15th featured a CFUW Stratford gettingthere.ca interview to introduce the final report of the Network Southwest concept.
> CFUW Stratford assisted with London Transportation Forum on April 8th to present Network Southwest.
> A Labour Lunch on April 7th in Stratford raised the topic of transportation as vital to employment opportunities in Huron-Perth.