Transport 2000 Canada Hot Line
30 January 2004
This is the Transport 2000 Canada Hotline, issue number 743, recorded on
30 January 2004, John Pearce reporting.
In this issue...
This week's hotline is a mixture of aviation and railway news.
First, in the air:
- 1 - Air fees controversy
- 2 - USA recommends more open skies for Canada
- 3 - New Charlottetown-Halifax flights
- 4 - Halifax airport growth
- 5 - NavCan warns of higher charges to airlines
- 6 - Ontario pledges to keep Northland public
- 7 - VIA affected by deep freeze
- 8 - Southwest Ontario T2000 meetings successful so far
- 9 - Canadian Transportation Agency centennial
- 10 - New T2000 report on crashes and injuries
- 11 - Collenette to retire from politics
1 - Air fees controversy
The controversy about airport rents and charges continues. Barry
Rempel, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airport Authority and his
counterpart, Larry Berg at Vancouver International Airport Authority
both complained this week about escalating federal rental charges at
Canada's 9 largest airports.
Meanwhile, Doug Young, who was federal minister of Transport from
1993 to 1996 when many of the airports were privatized, publicly
regretted policies he promoted which have given NavCan and airport
authorities unrestricted authority to raise fees to airlines and the
travelling public. Young commented that airport accountability and
management structure needs to be reviewed.
2 - USA recommends more open skies for Canada
The United States, through its ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci,
has suggested liberalized aviation policies which would create serious
domestic competition for Air Canada but allow Canadian carriers access
to lucrative routes in the U.S. New Canadian Transport minister Tony
Valeri has suggested he wants to consult with industry stakeholders in
Canada before beginning serious negotiations with the U.S. His concerns
were echoed by Tim Morgan, senior Vice-President with WestJet, who
expressed some fears that powerful U.S. airlines with lots of capital
and spare aircraft could flood the Canadian market with excess capacity,
especially if "cabotage" were permitted.
3 - New Charlottetown-Halifax flights
Prince Edward Air has announced 3 round trips each weekday between
Charlottetown and the Atlantic air hub in Halifax. The independent air
service hopes to connect with major national air carriers in Halifax.
Its marketing takes the unusual step of quoting fares which include all
taxes except airport improvement fees.
4 - Halifax airport growth
The Halifax airport hub recently announced a 5% growth in passengers
in 2003 versus 2002. The growth was fuelled by major discounts from 4
competing national airlines, and positioned YHZ as the leader in
passenger growth among major Canadian airports.
5 - NavCan warns of higher charges to airlines
Nav Canada warned that higher air traffic fees to
airlines may be in the wind after reporting a $2 million deficit in its
last quarter. CEO John Crichton blamed the challenge to NavCan's
finances on the slow recovery of global airline traffic growth.
Now for some railway news:
6 - Ontario pledges to keep Northland public
Ontario Liberal Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Rick Bartolucci,
and MPP for Sudbury, told union leaders at a meeting in North Bay this week
that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission would stay in public
hands. Since a divestiture announcement by the previous Conservative
administration in December 2000, Ontario Northland has been operating with
an interim part-time administration.
Union president Brian Stevens expressed hope for new leadership
"committed to building a vibrant organization".
7 - VIA affected by deep freeze
The recent cold weather in eastern Canada has been hard on VIA
service, especially its Renaissance passenger equipment. In addition to
frozen doors and steps, frozen toilets are now a problem. Train 25 on
the Québec City to Montréal mid-day trip January 25th
is reported to have made special stops at stations so passengers could
use washroom facilities. Train 27 that day was replaced by buses and
train 26's passengers were carried from Montreal to Charny on train 16,
the "Chaleur", enroute to Gaspé. The single Renaissance train set
operating on the "Ocean" route between Montréal and Halifax seems
to have fared better with most delays attributed to infrastructure such
as signals and frozen switches.
8 - Southwest Ontario T2000 meetings successful so far
Paul Langan, Transport 2000 Ontario member from Cambridge, is
conducting a series of 6 town hall meetings along VIA's so-called "North
Line" linking Toronto to London and Sarnia through Guelph,
Kitchener-Waterloo, and Stratford. Meetings were held last weekend in
Sarnia, St. Mary's and Stratford and this past week in London,
Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph.
Support from the media and municipal leaders has been excellent.
The risk of cancellation of substantial federal funding to VIA for
track upgrades on the line, and the imminent loss of the Amtrak/VIA
Toronto-Chicago "International" train were major topics at the
meetings. The funding would be used to upgrade track for faster and
more frequent service.
The line carries many business commuters into Toronto from Kitchener
and Guelph and many college students between the high concentration of
universities on the line. It is judged by many to have great potential
for growth but has, to date, been neglected by the Ministry of Transport
and VIA Rail.
9 - Canadian Transportation Agency centennial
The Canadian Transportation Agency marks 100 years of service to
Canadian transportation as a government regulatory agency. Initially the
"Board of Railway Commissioners" regulated railways only. However in
1938 its powers were broadened to assume some authority over air and
marine matters. Control of air in 1944 and marine matters in 1947 led to
formation of the Canadian Transport Commission in 1967 with an expanded
role in oversight of rail, air, and water modes.
10 - New T2000 report on crashes and injuries
This week Transport 2000 Ontario released a report entitled "Spine
and Brain Injuries from Vehicle Crashes". Natalie Litwin of the Ontario
group highlighted some of the human health costs of our road-based
transport system, citing continued emphasis on private motor vehicles
instead of much safer public transportation.
11 - Collenette to retire from politics
Finally, former federal transport minister David Collenette has just
announced his decision to bow out of politics after 20 years. During his
lengthy term as Minister of Transport, he has been a strong supporter of
public transportation, especially passenger rail. Transport 2000 Canada
commends his work over past years and will certainly feel his absence
from the federal scene.
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