Nova Scotia

Train touted for busy commuter route

A busy highway off-ramp near Halifax will be modified, but the area MLA says a commuter rail service is the way to go.

A decision to modify a busy highway off-ramp near Halifax has renewed calls for commuter rail service in the area.

TheN.S. governmentplans to lengthen the ramp off Highway 118 into Waverley and Fall River, which often fills too quickly during rush hour, leaving commuters lined up at the side of the highway.

But Percy Paris, New Democrat MLA for the area, says a commuter train is a better option.

"This is one of the fastest-growing ridings in Atlantic Canada, so development is growing at a very rapid pace. Infrastructure is not keeping pace with development," he told CBC News.

Adding a daily commuter train run on an existing rail line would be expensive, but it would ease highway congestion and reduce greenhouse gases, Paris says.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has studied the idea of a commuter train and has it listed as a long-term possibility in its municipal plan.

But Mike Lebrecque, director of transportation and public works, says a fast ferry service in the Bedford Basin is a more economical transportation option, with two or three vessels doing the job.

"It depends on the size and the makeup of the vessel and service running probably every half-hour out of Bedford and into the current terminal in Halifax," he said.

Under this proposal, shuttle buses would carry commuters from Lower Sackville and Bedford to the ferries.

Paris says that is a good idea, but he still wants to see a commuter train or regular shuttle service in his area to reduce the volume of traffic on the highway.