Public Transportation System: Question Period – 30 March 2017

Here is the video and transcript of oral questions today recorded in the language it was originally spoken.

M. Coon : Ma question s’adresse au ministre des Transports et de l’Infrastructure. Posséder une voiture n’est pas une possibilité pour plusieurs personnes du Nouveau-Brunswick. Si vous ne pouvez pas vous permettre d’en acheter une, se déplacer pour aller voir le médecin, pour aller au travail ou même pour rendre visite à sa famille peut être un vrai défi.Les transports en commun sont des services publics essentiels. Le gouvernement fédéral s’est engagé à investir 20 milliards de dollars dans l’amélioration des transports en commun au cours des 11 prochaines années. Voici ma question : Le ministre a-t-il reçu du premier ministre le mandat de négocier des fonds en vue de fournir aux gens du Nouveau-Brunswick des services de transport publics efficaces?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: I want to thank the member opposite for a very valid question and a very legitimate question. I am very pleased to stand to say that we value what he does. Public transit is very important. What I can say is that I have had many meetings with Minister Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure in regard to transit infrastructure. In fact, I was very proud to be part of many announcements last year when we invested in transit in Miramichi, we invested in transit in Fredericton, and we invested in transit in Saint John as well. With respect to the new infrastructure dollars that are in place, those details are still being worked out, but I am very confident that we will have more infrastructure dollars that we can spend to keep developing transit here in our province because it is the right thing to do.

Mr. Coon: Part of the solution is certainly rail. I was glad to hear that the minister had met with VIA Rail President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano in early March. The federal government has budgeted $867 million for VIA Rail over the next three years, so this is a real opportunity for New Brunswick to revive rail as a public transportation option for New Brunswickers. Can the minister tell the House about the results of that meeting?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: Another very legitimate question, and I commend the member opposite for bringing those types of questions to the House because they are important to New Brunswickers.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Fraser: I would be very happy to update the member opposite. I might not be able to
do it in a minute. I have had several meetings with Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, the President of VIA Rail.


Mr. Speaker: Member.

Hon. Mr. Fraser: In fact, I met with him two weeks ago in Montreal to talk with VIA about this very important issue. In fact, I met with the President of CN on a number of occasions, as well as the executive at CN, including just two weeks ago. We have CN officials coming to New Brunswick in the next couple of weeks to have another meeting with a team that I put in place. It consists of senior executives from RDC, ONB, the Department of Energy and Resource Development, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Premier’s Office, because we know how serious rail is and how important it is to our province. We are going to continue to work with CN and VIA both to make sure that we can provide the best services, not only for VIA but also for the transportation of our goods and services in our province. Thank you.

Mr. Coon: New Brunswick remains heavily dependent on personal vehicles, which, of course, create excessive carbon pollution. Our overdependence on driving stands in the way of the Premier’s achieving his carbon pollution reduction targets for 2020 and 2030. The establishment of effective and seamless public transportation services would serve the province’s social, economic, and environmental objectives. This does require investment from Ottawa and from New Brunswick, but it also requires a plan to provide this needed public service to New
Brunswickers. Will the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure table his plan to make public transportation a public service accessible to New Brunswickers?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: Again, I commend the member opposite for bringing up subjects in this House that are of particular interest and are very important to the people of New Brunswick. We are working extremely hard with CN and with VIA on that file. We are also working on electric vehicles and other initiatives. I would be happy to sit down with the member opposite to discuss those plans further and discuss how we can work together to achieve the results that we want to achieve here in New Brunswick. I mentioned this during the estimates process for my department. We are purchasing an electric bus, which will be the first electric bus in the province. Our government is putting that in place in this coming school year. In fact, another meeting I had when I was in Montreal was with another company that distributes electric vehicles for different transportation modes, and we are looking at possibly looking at some of our fleet to see whether we can turn some of those vehicles into electric to help the environment and to help with the carbon footprint.