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Old Posted Oct 31, 2011, 6:55 PM
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Atlantic Canada Regional Transportation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telegraph Journal
Province frets over struggling rail and bus service

FREDERICTON - Worried about a plunge in passengers, the province is trying to arrange a meeting with one of the region's biggest rail services and long-distance bus lines.

For the last two years, Acadian Coach Lines has had a drastic drop in paying customers. The number of passengers taking Via Rail has also been in sharp decline since 1996 in a province that traditionally had one of the highest ridership per capita in Canada for both trains and inter-urban buses.

The drop - and complaints from people who worry about poor scheduling between the rail line and bus service - has convinced the New Brunswick government to get the three sides together to work on solutions.

"The trend line is steadily down," said Margaret Grant-McGivney, an assistant deputy minister of Transportation, who addressed a Saturday meeting of Transport Action Atlantic, an advocacy group for public transport. "This creates a significant concern for us."

Grant-McGivney told the small gathering in downtown Fredericton that the province had unsuccessfully lobbied Via in recent years to re-introduce passenger rail service between Saint John and Moncton, and on an old rail line that crosses New Brunswick diagonally between Moncton and Edmundston. The company, she said, didn't respond to the province's entreaties.

Members of the group complained at length about the lack of connectivity between bus routes and the rail service, which has stops along one line in Halifax, Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst and Campbellton.

For instance, the Acadian bus departs six days a week from the rail station in downtown Moncton before the train arrives, forcing people who want to continue to Saint John by bus to wait almost two hours. "It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious," said board member Ted Bartlett of Riverview.

The assistant deputy minister said the government is also planning to review the regulatory regime for inter-urban bus service to see if it's working properly. As a scheduled, long-distance bus service, Acadian has to apply to the province's regulator, the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, if it wants to change schedules, routes, fares and level of service.

Despite the oversight, Acadian's passenger numbers have plummeted: Between 2008 and 2009, the company lost 18.7 per cent of its New Brunswick ridership and between 2009 and 2010 it lost a further 16.9 per cent.

Members of the advocacy group blamed Acadian for the drop, arguing that the company has made poor decisions, such as building its new bus stations in Saint John and Fredericton outside the downtown areas. They say this leaves passengers stranded or forces them to take a city bus or cab to their final destination.

To underline their point, Nova Scotia members of the group said they had planned on taking the bus to the Fredericton board meeting but decided against it because the station on the outskirts of New Brunswick's capital city was too far from downtown.

"We're carpooling," said president Marcus Garnet of Darmouth, N.S. "You pay more for your cab fare to the bus station than it's worth."

http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.c...rticle/1451994
So, AC SSP, what are we going to do about this? Also, I know there's an airport thread around, so this should be focused more on Buses and Trains and similar things.

This article implies better communication between VIA Rail and Acadian Bus Lines. Personally, I think it would help if VIA Rail even operated out of Saint John or Fredericton, for starters.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2011, 2:24 PM
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Not a bad idea for a thread.

In a nutshell, while I certainly enjoy my cars, there is no question that we should be encouraging public transportation as much as possible.

This is not just an environmental issue, but increasingly an economic issue given the rapidly increasing costs of non renewable energy sources such as oil and gas. There is also the issue of wear and tear on our infrastructure and also a social justice issue given the fact that people who are unable to afford private transportation still need to be able to get from point A to point B. In addition, smaller communities need access to transportation options as well, so this is not just an urban issue.

Given the above, a coordinated approach is necessary, which means governmental involvement and this probably needs to be more intensive than simply providing a regulatory structure to the system.

I personally think that a regional transportation model should be built on a foundation of inter-urban passenger rail, serving as many of our cities and larger towns as possible.

At the very least, VIA should establish a daily train service between Saint John, Moncton and Halifax to supplement the existing "Ocean" service between Halifax, Moncton and Montreal. There should be coordination between these two routes so that passengers from Saint John could switch trains in Moncton to travel onwards to Montreal.

In addition, a VIA rail service should be re-established from Halifax to Sydney, again with coordination with the "Ocean" so that Sydney passengers could switch trains in Truro to travel to Moncton and Montreal.

Commuter rail should be established in Halifax, perhaps with service as far afield as Windsor and Truro. Neither Moncton or Saint John is currently large enough for a commuter rail service, but here in Moncton, I sometimes fantasize about a commuter rail line to Sackville and Amherst. It also wouldn't take much to rebuild the line from Scoudouc to Shediac so that there could be a service to Shediac as well. This would be expensive though and likely impractical at present.

Fredericton and Charlottetown unfortunately have lost their rail service so any expansion in public transit would require enhancing the inter-urban bus service. The bus service should complement and interface with the rail based transportation service described above. This means coordinated scheduling and passenger drop-offs at the VIA rail stations. Bus drop-offs at the regional airports should also be encouraged.

Finally, in addition to intercity express busses, local bus service to smaller communities would have to be supported. There are many low income people in rural areas who are somewhat trapped by their economic circumstances and therefore rarely travel to the larger regional cities. This situation should be recognized.

I'm a strong believer in the principal of "if you build it, they will come". This means that if the infrastructure is available, affordable and convenient, then people will be inclined to use it. That's one of the reasons why mass transit is so popular in Europe. This should be the guiding principle to any refurbishment of public transit in the Maritimes......
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBC News
Higgs Considers Highway Tolls To Cut Deficit

Highway tolls are back on the table in New Brunswick as the provincial deficit continues to grow far beyond what was forecast.

In the past, the ruling Conservatives have said the cost of collecting highway tolls might defeat their purpose as a deficit-reduction weapon.

Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, shown before presenting the budget last March, blames much of the growing deficit on reduced revenues from personal income tax, lotteries and liquor sales. David Smith/Canadian Press
But after two quarterly reports showing an out-of-control deficit, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs is thinking about tolls again.

"We looked at it seriously on the first-quarter results, thinking we have to look at every revenue,” Higgs said Thursday after the second-quarter report was released. “So the analytical work is being done as we speak, and some of it has been done already."

Higgs's goal this year was a $448 million deficit, but the latest figures project it will be almost $100 million more than that.

The deficit for 2011-2012 is now expected to be $545.7 million, an increase of $31.4 million from the first-quarter projection and almost $97 million from what was budgeted.

Although most government departments reined in overspending in the second quarter, revenues from income tax, lotteries and liquor sales fell short of projections.

Higgs also said the province will be more than $10 billion in debt by the end of this fiscal year — a situation he called unacceptable and unsustainable.

Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault criticized the government’s performance, but the finance critic wouldn’t say what taxes he'd raise or what spending he'd cut.

"Before you want to to talk about taxes, show me you're serious about growing the economy, and right now they haven't proven that to me."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-br...r.html?cmp=rss
Not a whole lot on tolls, per se, but i've heard people suggesting tolls at the NB/NS border and the NB/QUE border. Personally I don't have anything against this right now. Thoughts? NS-SSPers: How upset would you be at having to pay a toll to enter NB?
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregHickman View Post
Not a whole lot on tolls, per se, but i've heard people suggesting tolls at the NB/NS border and the NB/QUE border. Personally I don't have anything against this right now. Thoughts? NS-SSPers: How upset would you be at having to pay a toll to enter NB?
Please toll the highways in New Brunswick. The condition of the highways are terrible compared to Nova Scotia especially in winter. I would be willing to pay multiple tolls on the TCH if it meant you didn't need a new pair of shocks every time you drove through N.B.

New Brunswick has a highway system that is under used and most traffic on it is from out of province driving through. You would be stupid not to toll the users.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2011, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by q12 View Post
Please toll the highways in New Brunswick. The condition of the highways are terrible compared to Nova Scotia especially in winter.
As far as i'm aware only the Cobequid is tolled in NS, and all of the funds from that toll go towards that section of highway. The rest of NS is untolled and the highways don't seem to be that poor, so i'm not sure there's a correlation of tolls = automatically better highways.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2011, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by GregHickman View Post
As far as i'm aware only the Cobequid is tolled in NS, and all of the funds from that toll go towards that section of highway. The rest of NS is untolled and the highways don't seem to be that poor, so i'm not sure there's a correlation of tolls = automatically better highways.
Well we have higher gasoline taxes and a higher HST (which I'm no fan of) which probably has helped. Nova Scotia also does mostly full resurfacing of their highways versus the N.B. and P.E.I. methods of patching (which get ripped up by the plows in the winter).

No matter what, New Brunswick is delaying the inevitable, they need more money whether its taxes or whatever or they are going to end up like Greece.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2011, 10:50 PM
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Re: Acadian and Via

I'm flabbergasted by the complete inability of Acadien's management to understand who their customers are and how to best service them. How anyone could have not predicted a massive drop in ridership by moving their major terminals to completely inconvenient locations is beyond me. Fredericton is particularly ridiculous, since so many riders are students and the old station was just ten minutes from campus.

That, and cutting routes because ridership is dropping because routes have been cut because ridership is down... is a pretty classic Catch-22.

As for Via... that's a tougher nut to crack. Trains are expensive to buy and operate and new lines are even more pricey. The only city in New Brunswick that can be reconnected is SJ. But there would be hardly enough inter-city commuting to Moncton to justify it. The only traffic on those trains otherwise will be people going to Montreal and west.

I don't know if any of you have checked what Via's fares are like, but they aren't exactly competitive. Especially so when you consider that it's a 16 hour trip to Montreal from Moncton, and around 24 to Toronto. For less than the cost of a train, you can fly Porter to Toronto in the a.m., enjoy yourself all day, and fly back to Moncton via Porter in the time ti would take you to go most of the way to Montreal by train.

So if Via won't improve regional transport, i think their only course of action is to go after the people who would normally take the bus to head out of the Maritimes. For those people, the train is just as practical and fast, and a hell of a better trip than by bus. If you've ever been stuck beside a drunk or a crazy person on a bus for five hours (I sure have), then you know how great it is to get up and walk away to find a different seat.

It's sad that we're in this predicament at all. If Moncton, SJ, Charlottetown and Freddy were all roughly the size of Halifax today, it would be easy to justify inter-urban and regional rail transport and economies of scale would keep it affordable. Unfortunately, I just don't think we have the critical mass we need to make a good go of it.



Re: Tolls on the TCH through New Brunswick
Roads are a public good, but not everyone gets the same benefit from them. More importantly, some do a whole lot more damage than others. I don't think it's unfair to say that motorists should pay a toll to use the TCH. If the plaza is located past Riverglade, you'll avoid the issue of pissing off Salisbury commuters and only hit people taking the full trip to Fredericton. That said, you would save a lot of overhead if they put it just after Route 1 and Route 2 merge at Petitcodiac because you could effectively toll two highways for the price of one booth plaza.

My point about doing more damage is directed to trucks. While I fully appreciate the importance of the transportation industry, especially to Moncton (I drive by Midland, Sunburry and Armour's hubs every morning on my way to work), the trucking sector has based an entire industry off of a publicly funded network of roads. I think it's fair to come up with some kind of weight-based toll to mitigate the damage done by heavier trucks. Maybe that isn't feasible, but at least to me it seems like a fair compromise instead of a large flat rate on everybody.


Re: The quality of roads in this province
You'll get no argument from me. New Brunswick has an unbelievable length of public roads for its size and population. Frankly, we can't afford it. I've long advocated that we make an effort to decommission as many as we can. One need only glance at a map to see that there are places where there are two, three or more provincially maintained roads that run parallel to each other often very close together. If we pick the best roads to keep provincial, and make the rest local roads maintained by municipal governments, we can get away from a lot of the silliness we see all the time when it comes to road maintenance. If someone can tell me why the province should maintain control over Main Street, Elmwood Dr, and Mountain Road in Moncton and Acadie Avenue in Dieppe that are all within city limits, please enlighten me. Otherwise, let the cities handle them.

Granted the first issue is actually amending the way the province doles out transportation funding. I think we can all agree ti should be based on population and network size, rather than the current system. But that is an uphill battle in itself and I've already made this post way too long...
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 1:35 AM
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For Reference, GNB Highway Maps:

http://www.gnb.ca/0113/maps/maps-e.asp

Completely agreed with Myles in terms of the provincially designated highways within the province, and the duplication of roads. As an example, how many roads lead to Miramichi? A lot of the roads are not used as much as they were in the past, and most are very treacherous to drive (the first that comes to my mind is Highway 17 from St. Leonard to Campbellton. Highway 8 from Bathurst to Miramichi isn't much better). The recent suggestion of doubling Highway 11 to Miramichi from Shediac is a scary idea, especially considering the demographic migration from the Northeast to the Southeast of the province. Why they would build a two-lane highway to what many would consider to be the middle of nowhere is beyond me.

Agreed with q12 in terms of the resurfacing Nova Scotia does v. the patching of PEI & NB. I recall driving over week-old patching on Highway 7 and chewing it up a bit, and this was in April. I know it depends on what type of asphalt is used and etc., but it just seems to crumble very quickly.

As far as tolls are concerned I would not mind two-lane highways being tolled, so far as they are in sensible areas. Tolling both Highway 2 & 1 in or around Salisbury, as Myles stated, sounds like a decent idea to me. There's easily enough room for a toll-area on the Salisbury side of that interchange. Another toll area may be Edmundston, although we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves.

In terms of rail, Myles is correct in regards to rates and times. I would enjoy rail service to Saint John, and I think it could be feasible if a decent Halifax route were considered. An hour and a half drive to Moncton is easy, but Halifax is roughly three, and for most people that's a decent drive. Training to Halifax would certainly be easier on some.

As for Acadian; I don't even know. They just seem to be running themselves into the ground.

Also, I know the highway talk could go into the Highways thread, but since this is decently regionally minded, I think we're ok.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 2:39 AM
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Looking at that map, there are three parallel roads between Nackawic and Grand Falls and FOUR between Hartland and Florenceville! And those are just primary, secondary and tertiary highways. Throw in rural routes and you're looking at a hell of a lot of asphalt.

I know the Finn report is never going to be ratified, but this is a perfect example of how it would simplify matters considerably. The Province could maintain all the primary highways (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 15, 17, 95). Connecting communities being the goal. Then all other roads could be maintained by the 55 proposed municipal governments with funding doled out based on population. You'd create more local planning, meaning local councils decide what needs to get done with their funding, and the Province would avoid the hassle of paving Route 788 every 7 years because the same five people complain every other month.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 12:49 PM
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In my opinion, one of the biggest flaws with our regional transportation network, is that it only connects to Quebec. There's no easy way to get to the States unless you drive or fly, and even flying isn't that great.

I did a check to see how I might be able to get to Boston, and my choices are basically "Acadian up to Woodstock, taxi to Houlton (if that's allowed), and a charter bus down to Bangor or Portland where I can finally connect to Greyhound/AMTrack's buses.

In my opinion, we desperately need to improve our transport options in this region, and get Maine in on the party as well, since a big part of the problem is that anything north and east of Bangor is a transportation black hole at the moment.

Ideally I would like to see us eventually be able to get some of the following:

Daily train service Halifax to and from St. Stephen via Moncton and Saint John.

Train service from Calais to Portland and points beyond, with the times synced to the Halifax to St. Stephen run to allow easy trip continuation.

Hell, even if it was just a bus service that mimiced that, and was tied into the national bus networks (ie Greyhound) so you could easily purchase a trip from Halifax to Chicago (for example) without having to go through a half dozen companies and long (multi-hour) layovers it would be a huge improvement.

And count me in as another person boggled by Acadian's decisions with the bus stations in NB. In order for a transportation network to work and be used by the people, it needs to have entry points convienant to people. Acadian's old station in Freddy was perfect. Close to the Universities (one of their largest use-groups), and close to Freddy Transit's route terminal (King's Place). Frankly, I'd be hard pressed to think of a better location for it in Freddy.

It's current location, on the other hand, I couldn't tell you where it was or how to get to it even if I wanted to. It makes you wonder really if they're trying to shut down the inter city bus service or what the hell they're thinking.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 1:20 PM
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The Fredericton bus terminal is just off Wilsey Road in the Vanier Industrial Park. It's 9km away, a ten minute drive downtown, or an 1h30m walk. You may be able to take a city bus, but I can't imagine that being any faster than a half hour.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 1:57 PM
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I used to complain about the bus terminal in SJ moving out of the Uptown core, but after seeing where Fredericton's ended up, I retract my bitching, because your's is much worse. At least in SJ you can walk Harbour Passage from Uptown and get to the terminal in ~15 minutes, and it's even closer to the North End.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 2:10 PM
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Acadian has moved their Moncton bus terminal too. It used to be right on Main Street, not too far from Highfield Square and the VIA station. Now it's in the east end of downtown off St. George. It's less convenient, but not nearly the nightmare situation in Freddy!!

I think the lack of local ownership of the bus line is a big issue. I doubt that Group Orleans knows much about local tranportation needs in the Maritimes, or for that matter, gives a rats ass either.....

Irving should buy the company back.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 2:14 PM
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At least in SJ you can walk Harbour Passage from Uptown and get to the terminal in ~15 minutes, and it's even closer to the North End.
10-minute walk from my place.

The Fredericton terminal is easily the worst. I don't find Saint John's to be all that poor. It would be better uptown, of course, but beggars can't be choosers. The only terminal which seems to sit in the proper place in Moncton's.

re: Taeolas & Maine. Maine is a bit tricky, and it doesn't help that the Americans (or, at least, the GOP) want to continue to make the border more of a force-field. I'm just not sure that the Feds consider Maine to be relatively important, and i'm not sure if Maine considers Bangor -> NB Border important enough for infrastructure improvement such as what you're suggesting. I'd love to be able to hop down and jump on a train in the states, but I think most people would rather fly than bus for multiple hours at a time.

In terms of their highways, I think Maine is the only state in contention for most boring area to drive through, rivaling NB. (that is, if you drive the length of I-95. Highway 1 (ME) is much more scenic, but much less practical, in terms of travel)
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 3:12 PM
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Regarding international public transportation connections between the Maritimes and the US - aside from Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the single connection to Newark from Greater Moncton International, they are simply non-existent.

It's almost as if the entire frontier between Canada and the US east of Montreal is a black void. We don't seem to matter!

I have mentioned on another thread that I thought VIA or Amtrak should establish a trans-border route from Boston to Halifax via Portland, Bangor, Saint John, Moncton and Truro. Given the lack of other land transportation options, I think this could be viable, especially if marketed appropriately for the tourism market.

The cruise ship industry has discovered the Maritimes, it's high time we established a "land cruise" option as well.....
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 3:41 PM
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Well as I said, as far as Maine is concerned, anything North and East of Bangor doesn't exist. Granted it is a bit of a population black hole, but at the same time there are people there and there are connections that should be developed, if anything to start developing that region.

An international train from Saint John to Portland would be fantastic, but I recognized the fact that they're trying to seal the border up tight, so that was why my proposal had a VIA and Amtrak links to St. Stephen/Calais with some local connector available to bridge the gap more easily.

Frankly, I've always thought there should be something built to cut across Aroostock county from border to border, but I know there's even less a chance of that happening than my new rail line idea.

In any case, as a short term solution, we need to restore good intercity bus service back in the Maritimes. That includes getting those terminals located in places where they fit nicely with the city's transit and other transportation options, and get a good interlocking schedule with the lines.

In my opinion, there should be constant express runs linking Charlottetown, Moncton, Halifax, Saint John, Sydney and Fredericton; almost to the point that you shouldn't have to wait more than an hour or two to get a bus going to the next city during the day. Service to Riviere de Loup, Edmundston, Miramachi, Bathurst, southern NS and Bangor or Portland Maine shouldn't be as densely serviced, but still regular enough that you can at least get to/from those locations any day you chose. (2-3 runs each way from the core cities basically, if not more often for the closer destinations)
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 3:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeolas View Post

In my opinion, there should be constant express runs linking Charlottetown, Moncton, Halifax, Saint John, Sydney and Fredericton; almost to the point that you shouldn't have to wait more than an hour or two to get a bus going to the next city during the day. Service to Riviere de Loup, Edmundston, Miramachi, Bathurst, southern NS and Bangor or Portland Maine shouldn't be as densely serviced, but still regular enough that you can at least get to/from those locations any day you chose. (2-3 runs each way from the core cities basically, if not more often for the closer destinations)
I believe that what you stated here is part of the reason the bus ridership has dropped. It's just not convenient enough. When you can only depart 2 times per day it makes a huge difference. "I wanted to go to Moncton and leave my car home but the bus doesn't leave until 6:15p" for example. Personally I then choose to take my car because I can get there earlier in the day and about 3.5 hrs faster. It's hard to say unless it was trialed but I think you are right. If people didn't have to wait for the buses all day I bet we would see more day/weekend trips.
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Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 8:10 PM
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It's almost as if the entire frontier between Canada and the US east of Montreal is a black void. We don't seem to matter!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeolas
Well as I said, as far as Maine is concerned, anything North and East of Bangor doesn't exist. Granted it is a bit of a population black hole, but at the same time there are people there and there are connections that should be developed, if anything to start developing that region.
In the grand sense of North America we don't matter, really. In terms of population density per/km we're awfully spread out. Having a very large, and for the most part, unpopulated state taking up the majority of the eastern border does not help much. The dead zone of Northern Maine is very infuriating, especially for someone such as myself who likes driving. If there were people in that part of the state, there would at least be a road through it, cutting the drive from Southern NB to major Quebec and Ontario cities down considerably.

Honestly, if there were a highway from Houlton towards Sherbrooke (or even towards Beauceville), the drive to Montreal/Toronto would be shortened by quite a bit. I know of quite a few people who drive through the states to avoid Quebec anyway (for obvious reasons), so this highway i'm sure would be welcome.

The main problem, and something that we seem to overlook quite a bit, is the willingness of the American government to coordinate with our needs or wants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeolas
An international train from Saint John to Portland would be fantastic, but I recognized the fact that they're trying to seal the border up tight, so that was why my proposal had a VIA and Amtrak links to St. Stephen/Calais with some local connector available to bridge the gap more easily.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonctonRad
I have mentioned on another thread that I thought VIA or Amtrak should establish a trans-border route from Boston to Halifax via Portland, Bangor, Saint John, Moncton and Truro.
Are there any other examples of transborder trains between Canada and the States? How do these work and how well do they operate, in terms of transitioning between countries? I'd be interested in getting an idea of how popular these are and how well maintained they are. Enough people from Saint John and Western NB seem to like travelling to Bangor for shopping, so i'm sure a train to-and-from wouldn't be such a bad idea.
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  #19  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2011, 8:54 PM
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MonctonRad MonctonRad is offline
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Amtrak has cross border service to Vancouver from Seattle, Montreal from New York and Toronto (possibly from New York) as well.

There is no reason why they couldn't initiate a similar service to Halifax from Boston. Perhaps we should lobby our neighbours in Maine for assistance in this matter. At present, Amtrak service terminates in Portland.
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  #20  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2011, 2:45 AM
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When do you clear customs, before you leave the last stop? Does CBSA stop the train at the border and go seat by seat?

Worth noting you're not comparing apples to apples with those other routes.
Vancouver (2 million) to Seattle (4 million) and they're very close.
New York (10 million) to Montreal (3.5 million)
Toronto (5.5 million) to New York (10 million)

I'm estimating those numbers, but I'm not very far off.

...and then Boston (3 million) to Halifax (350,000), and would probably be the longest of the trips.
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