[HALIFAX, NS] — Mark Curtis felt the desperation caused in his hometown of Broken Hill, Australia when the train that served it and everyone in between the nearest city of Adelaide 500 kilometers away, suddenly closed.
So while he and his vacationing family were waiting to catch the train in Halifax Thursday they decided to join a protest at Victoria Park against the imminent closure of Acadian bus lines and the coming cuts to Via Rail.
“We’ve seen the affect of that in our community and how desperate it was,” said Curtis. “Seniors have to pay a $300 plane ticket to see a doctor. It’s been terrible on them. That’s why we’re here.”
The 50 or so demonstrators, which included, Acadian line bus drivers, Via Rail employees and riders, weren’t only there to oppose the coming cuts, they were calling on government for a transportation strategy that could service Nova Scotians and the rest of Canada.
Acadian bus lines is scheduled to fold Nov. 30, while VIA Rail’s Montreal-to-Halifax service will be cut from six runs per week to three runs per week by the end of this month.
Canadian Auto Workers national representative Chad Johnston said that not only should the services be brought back but it also must be bolstered.
“The province needs to get an integrated model, which involves rail and bus and ferries working together along with the other provinces,” said Johnston. “The government needs to take an active role. We’ll continue to apply pressure. This is a start.”
Halifax MP Megan Leslie was on hand and said she shares that philosophy and will pressure the federal government to bolster public transportation across the country.
“Last week at the House of Commons the majority of MPs, i.e. the Conservatives, voted against a bill for a national transit strategy,” said Leslie.