Friday, February 26, 2010
Today we had news of another fee to be added to all the existing fees that already often serve to more than double the regular cost of tickets. This new one will increase the price of tickets from $2.58 to $8.91 each way, depending on the destination. The reason? New security measures make the extra money necessary.
This would be a good time to remind the country that most developed countries have at least a few high-speed rail lines, and that when they appear airlines are forced to work to retain customers travelling distances of up to 800 km. A little competition is in order for a few parts of the country.
Calgary to Edmonton is an obvious example. The Calgary - Edmonton corridor is the part of the country with the highest GDP per capita, the cities are only separated by a distance of 300 km, and the area between them is nearly completely flat. No reason anyone should have to take a plane to go between these two.
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Vancouver to Portland (or maybe even to Eugene) is also a good one considering the three large metropolitan areas it would serve over its 500+ km length (Vancouver + Seattle + Portland), as well as the fact that two countries, one province and two states would be involved and would benefit from its construction.
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And finally, a corridor from Quebec to Detroit, in addition to one from Montreal to New York. That as well would benefit and involve two countries, two provinces and two or three states (passing by Burlington on the way south would make Vermont a part of the plan as well).
None of this will help air travellers now, but in the long term high-speed rail is a definite necessity for any developed country. Even Turkey has high-speed rail with a GDP per capita less than a quarter that of Canada's ($8500 USD per year), and less than half the total GDP.
And no, the problem is not that Canada is so big. Canada is long and thin, like Chile. It just happens to have a big backyard. A map here shows just how many live within 100 km of the US border. Double that and you have most of the country.