Via Rail Unmanned Stations: Guess Who Made A Decision Without Having A Plan

I mentioned this last week and then Carin followed up, and now there’s a news article about it. And as I feared, nobody over at Via or the government bothered thinking the unmanned train station plus person requiring help thing all the way through. The government, however, is quick to point out that none of this is on them. It never is, you know.

The decision to lay off ticket agents and an earlier decision to cut the number of train trips between Toronto and London came after the federal government announced it was clawing back $40 million in subsidies to the crown corporation over three years.

However, Via Rail officials said that replacing ticket agents with an online service was not spurred by budget cuts.

Conservative MP Gary Goodyear, who represents Cambridge-North Dumfries, said that despite government subsidies, operating decisions such as pulling ticket agents from stations are left to the company.

“The intricacies of these decisions are up to Via Rail but at the end of the day, our government is committed to safe, efficient passenger rail for Canadians and the efficient use of Canadians’ hard-earned tax dollars,” Goodyear said in an interview.

Man makes a good point. When I think safe and efficient train service for all, slashing the everloving shit out of a company’s funding so it can’t hire/retain enough people to run the stations is the first thing that comes to mind. Well done, Stephen Harper government. Thanks for looking out for us, as usual.

And what of these Via Rail officials who say that none of this is the government’s fault? If it really isn’t (it absolutely is) then who’s to blame for making a call like this without considering what it would do to people’s lives? If we’re slashing anybody, why not that guy?

“Discussions are being held as to how we will continue to provide assistance to our customers with special mobility needs at the planned unstaffed locations,” Via Rail spokesperson Mylène Bélanger said in an emailed statement. Our goal is to provide people with the same services (they receive today).”

Nice of you to have these discussions *now*, instead of *before* you painted yourself into a really stupid corner. It must be fantastic to work as a decision maker for a government department, since you don’t have to actually be able to, oh, let’s see, make sound decisions.

And wait, if the goal is to provide people with the same services they currently receive and this is in no way a government call brought on by budget cuts, does that mean we should be expecting the workers we rely on to not be going anywhere? Nice try, PR person.

Between this and the form response you get when you email Via to leave feedback/ask questions, I really don’t like the looks of things, you guys.

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