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June 13th, 2010:

3 things catching my eye this morning…

Possible VIA strike

Word this morning is that VIA ticket vendors and maintenance workers have voted for strike action at the end of June if a settlement cannot be reached. Bad timing for riders, of course, but a strategic move for the Union as the summer tourist season begins.

I’m not going to comment on a possible strike and what a hassle this will create for those of us who use the service, but rather on some of the comments I’m reading on the MotherCorp story.

Check it out:

There is something wrong. In many countries rail travel is the most economic way to travel. No not in Canada here in Canada to go from Winnipeg to Vancouver, economy class Via Rail: $258.76. Greyhound bus: $96.00. Like the roads the rails are there.
What make this so ” humane kind of travel” so expensive.
Right the “Via Rail workers have voted in favour of going on strike “.
They are pricing Via Rail out of business.
I love rail travel but not at those prices. As one commentator said: “Take away the subsidies and make it private.

The writer is making two points – rail is too expensive, and that the system should be privatized.

Yes, it is expensive compared to travel by road and is about on par with a flight for many cases. Against the air option, there is no contest, rail wins hands down. When I am traveling for biz to Montreal or to Toronto, I almost always go by rail; the exception being if the meeting I am attending is near the airport. No hassle. Comfy seats. Good food. and best of all, NO security!

And it IS used by many, many commuters in the Windsor to Montreal corridor – contrary to what this guy says:

Not a good move, I can’t name one person who relys (sic) on Via to get them around! Train travel is now a novelty thing , the odd tourist, vacationer thats (sic) about it.

Hmmm… it just occurred to me that comments like this may be coming from the West – where many like to bask anything that may be perceived to have an Eastern Canada bias.

As far as privatization, I don’t know if that is the solution. I know of folks who took Brit Rail both before and after the breakup of the national system and most would agree that it is far worse now than before. As well, I’m not so sure the Amtrak system is the cream of the crop in the States. So, at best, the jury is out.

Besides, privatization would only be effective if there were a profit to be made. In this vast country with wide spans between destinations, could a private firm offer a palatable service, pay their workers a living wage and still get a half decent RoI? I’m not so sure.

One other comment I want to say something about:

Here we go – the Union dummies don’t realize we are still in a recession.

Um, apparently this dummy doesn’t realize that we are NOT in a recession anymore. They should Google the definition.

I can’t begrudge the union trying to get a wage increase. As someone who belongs to a union that has been completely de-clawed (no cost of living increases for the next few years, meaning that our purchasing power will be 5-8% less three years from now than today) by the Harperites – as have all Federal Unions, I say go for it and good luck!

Another thing that caught my eye:

Apparently, a planetary alignment today is going to cause earthquakes, tsunamis and whole bunch of other end-of-the-world stuff.

Kongpop U-yen, a Thai engineer who works at the US National Aeronatics and Space Administration (Nasa), said the alignment of the planets today could cause natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

NDWC chief Smith Dharmasarojana agreed with the forecast, saying it was backed by scientific data.

The forecast, however, met with criticism from the scientific community as authorities did not clarify the prediction.

Mr Smith recently said during a TV interview that a solar eclipse was due to occur on June 12 as a result of the alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun.

He said the alignment would release considerable cumulative energy, which could affect the Earth. Mr Smith, quoting Mr Kongpop, said the phenomenon would have a direct impact on the Earth in the forms of climate disruption, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.


And finally:

How true it is…