Potential loss raises concerns

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When a service disappears it’s often with little advance warning, leaving nothing people can do about it. And even when it’s used by a minority of people, that doesn’t always mean it’s not vital – or that it won’t be sorely missed in the future.

Speculation has been ramping up about what might happen to Via Rail’s Atlantic route. The issue arose a month or so ago when CN expressed the possibility of selling a 70-kilometre stretch of the track through northern New Brunswick.

Although Via spokespersons have said that even if that should happen other alternatives to keep the route in service between Halifax and Montreal might be available.

That brings some solace, but only to a limited degree. We’ll remember when Acadia Lines, the region’s former bus service, announced a couple of years ago it would be shutting down. That looked like game over, until entrepreneurial spirit saw Maritime Bus move in and save the day for a lot of people who would otherwise have been stuck.

But an entrepreneur won’t be able to revive train service should it disappear.

The prospect has many concerned, including the mayor in Truro, Bill Mills, who told a sister paper to The News last week that losing Via would be a huge disappointment to that community.

Mills also said in comments to the Truro Daily News that such a loss would be another nail in the coffin to public transportation in the region. Via Rail has already cut back on the number of trips available through the week between Halifax and Montreal.

The Truro mayor expects this to be a topic at the Atlantic Mayors Congress, planned for April in Charlottetown.

It’s not hard to see how it’s a direct issue for Truro, with the line running through that town. But let’s hope municipal leaders in other parts of the province also get on board and make it plain this is a loss the region can’t afford. The future is more efficient ways for people to travel, not eliminating the means for that to happen.

Organizations: Via Rail, Truro Daily News, Atlantic Mayors Congress

Geographic location: Halifax, Montreal, New Brunswick Charlottetown

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