Reinstating rail service to the Island may be a better solution than buses, according to Langford Coun. Lanny Seaton.
The Island Corridor Foundation is hosting a series of town halls this month to talk to the public about plans to bring rail service back to the Island.
The foundation’s chief executive, Larry Stevenson, said feedback at the town halls has been positive so far with many people showing support for the project and Seaton agrees.
Seaton said people have been deterred from restoring rail in the past because of the $150 million price tag associated with it but he said the idea that it is expensive is a fallacy.
The money would not be spent all at once, Seaton said, as service would come back incrementally. Additionally, Seaton said that bus rapid transit and paying to build another road or lane would cost a lot as well.
“Everybody wants to put a big price tag on it,” Seaton said. “You’re going to have to subsidize whatever you do — buses or trains.”
And while Seaton admits the train would not alleviate traffic congestion completely, he said it would be a step in the right direction.
“There’s not one solution to the whole traffic problem,” Seaton said.
Seaton attended a town hall with the Island Corridor Foundation in Esquimalt and said many people showed their support for the return of rail service.
He said with more people moving to the area, rail would be a good way to get people to work downtown. Seaton added it’s either that or move government offices to the West Shore.
“The trouble is everybody’s found out that Langford is not such a bad place to live,” Seaton said.
Seaton recalled riding train systems in London, England and Vancouver and said his commutes were very simple. He said the problem is that people here just aren’t used to the concept of rail yet.
Rail is also a more eco-friendly option compared to buses, according to Seaton, and are less expensive to operate.
Seaton said limited land makes it difficult to just build extra roads to alleviate congestion and with rail crossings that are already built, he said it is not an unrealistic idea to restore rail service.