LETTER: Public transport, small vehicles are essential

“Kenya taught me a first lesson – saving fuel matters when gas stations are few and widely scattered,” says letter writer

MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] Please include your phone number and daytime address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a column on gasoline prices, published June 14, and to a “LETTER: When it comes to gasoline prices, size matters,” published June 15.


Dear Editor,

Patrick Kelly from Penetanguishene suggests that I don’t know my geography because I compared the size of Kenya to that of Ontario.

Although Ontario is twice the size, well over 60% of Ontario is only accessible by air. On the other hand, even 50 years ago almost every corner of Kenya was accessible by road.

Kenya taught me a first lesson – saving fuel matters when gas stations are few and widely scattered. I took this to heart and worked on my old Land Rover, increasing its fuel mileage by a very helpful 30%. Since then, I have continued to value fuel economy in my vehicles – it’s a “no regrets” policy.

Over 80% of the Canadian population lives within 100 kilometers of the US border. The traffic density around Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver easily rivals that of many European countries. Unfortunately, we have systematically dismantled public transport. Greyhound is the most recent example. During this time, most of Europe developed public transport, particularly rail. Britain is a notable exception.

For the record, I have traveled a lot in Canada. I drove three times from Montreal to Vancouver and took the train once. I also drove twice in the Maritimes. Doing these trips in a fuel-efficient vehicle simply enhances the experience.

I also sympathize with Lincoln Bayda’s frustration with poor public transit service in Canada. A quarter of a century ago, I tried to get our then MP interested in improving our GO rail service through electrification. Not only were they not interested, but Barrie’s GO train was canceled for over a decade.

If we want to improve public transit, we have to tell our politicians and we have to be prepared to pay the taxes necessary to get the job done. Apparently, this is a low priority for most voters.

It is not clear what the government, provincial or federal, can do to reduce the cost of housing. The Bank of Canada’s interest rate hike seems to be working. Time will tell us…

Whatever type of vehicle you buy, you should understand that four-wheel drive will add about 15% to its fuel consumption.

The reason you think you “need” it is simply due to drug dealer propaganda. They want to sell all-wheel drive because it increases the selling price and increases profits.

Driving confidently for one to two days every year when driving conditions are poor leads to higher fuel consumption during the 363 to 364 days when the road is clear, but it’s your choice. Mine is to reduce the speed instead.

As for your need to accommodate six passengers, that’s another story. Obviously, you can’t squeeze six people into a small car. However, most of the vehicles that pass me on the 400-series highway are large, SUVs or pickup trucks, and the majority only have one person inside. I’m sure few trades people actually need the cargo capacity – it’s a matter of choice.

As for reducing fuel taxes, it wouldn’t save as much money as choosing a small car.

Also, I and many others don’t need the savings. All help should be directed to low-income people who need it. The rest of us would rather see the government spending the money on other things of lasting value, like public transport, road repairs or other infrastructure.

Peter Bursztyn


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