CFN– Canada’s great Rail Tradition seems to be dying in Cornwall Ontario. The River City, less than two hours from Ottawa, our Nation’s Capital seems to be written off by the rail carrier.
First cuts to actual service and now it’s been announced very very quietly that the two full time positions at our local station are being terminated as of October 25th due to advances in technology according to Mylene Belanger of ViaRail who I spoke with this afternoon.
Ms Belanger stated that there had been a drop off of 15% in users who purchased their tickets at the station. She added that there will be automated services at the station and that people also purchase their tickets online.
But for a city of over 45,000 people with a large percentage of seniors this seems like a hollow statement. Further as Ms Belanger and I experimented with the Via site the schedules for Cornwall make it impossible to really use for business services.
You cannot book a ticket for example from Cornwall to Ottawa. The Via site states no service available and suggests that you call them. The test we did for a day trip to Toronto shows only one train that stops at Cornwall that leaves Toronto at 3:15 in the afternoon meaning that a day trip would consist of leaving Cornwall at 8:15 in the AM and having less than a few hours to actually do anything in Toronto before having to catch a return train.
With little to no marketing or advertising in Cornwall it feels to this scribbler, and huge fan of rail travel that Via really doesn’t want to build a market in Cornwall even though Ms Belanger stated that Brockville Ontario will have staffed service even though it has half our population!
Can you blame Via totally? Not really as the City of Cornwall has allowed inter-city transportation to crumble without a downtown bus hub and passengers having to take cabs to get to drop off points near the 401 Highway.
The Mayor & Council have been busy covering up scandals and trying to sneak through Waterfront Condo deals this term rather than focus on real day to day issues like public transportation to and from our city.
The city even fumbled an opportunity to ask the Province to turn over the former tourism location near the Bridge which has connections to city buses that would be ideal as a hub for Intercity traffic.
The impact economically and for tourism for any city the size of Cornwall to not have proper Intercity connectivity surely is not minor.
Also seniors will be more reluctant to give up driving their vehicles if there are not reasonable options which can be a safety issue as well.
We will be updating this story. What do you think Cornwall of losing more connectivity? You can post your comments below.