I do not normally write to newspapers to promote an idea. But to be honest, I am tired of repeatedly reading things that promote rail as the smart economic choice on Vancouver Island.
I do not know how many times someone has said they are getting older and need the train for transportation. Sorry, a train twice a day has really very little effect on your transportation. That money would be much better spent on enhancing our bus systems. Besides, about a quarter of our daily trips, statistically, are under one mile in duration and half are around three miles. Trails for bikes, walking and scooters that are off of roadways makes much more sense.
A simple half-hour Internet search on the economic benefits of rails to trails would change most people’s view of what should be done with the E&N railway. First, trail development and design create more jobs per dollar than any other transportation infrastructure construction.
Second, the economic impact of trails has a very fast return. The Northern Outer Bank trail in North Carolina for example reportedly has an annual impact on local economies of $60 million, nine times the one time expenditure of developing the trail.
Third, trails increase the value of nearby properties. In fact, a study in the U.S. found that nearby trails was one of the prevailing deciders on new house location choice.
That makes sense as it one of the lowest cost recreation opportunities for families. In fact Americans spend more on cycling than airline tickets. Eco-tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in the market. Could you imagine the economic benefit to the Nanoose reserve if bike excursions could leave Nanaimo’s cruise ship terminal to visit shops built up on the waterfront of the reserve.
I challenge people to do their own research. Going to trails saves money now when light rail transit seems not at all economically feasible. Not only that but it promotes migration and has a large economic effect that may one day make elevated rail transit feasible on the very same corridor.