Why can’t our MPs and Senators walk like our children have to ?
Scott Stinson June 29, 2011,|National Posthttp://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/06/29/scott-stinson-the-federal-department-of-not-having-to-walk-too-far/
My last visit to Parliament Hill was in early June, on the occasion of the federal budget. I had some time to kill, so wandered in search of a shady place to sit and read for a bit. A picnic table near the Confederation Building, just to the west of West Block itself, did the trick.
It was only a couple of minutes until a green shuttle bus arrived, disgorging one passenger and picking up none. The empty bus trundled off. A few minutes later, a couple of people exited the Confederation building, waited a scant moment or two, and were picked up by another near-empty bus. The process repeated over and over.
The parliamentary shuttle bus service has always struck me as taxpayer-funded overkill, but not until I sat there in the same spot for a half-hour or so did it become apparent just how ridiculous the service is. Seated outside a building that I had reached as a result of a leisurely, aimless — and short — stroll, I saw shuttle buses arrive with a regularity that would shame a municipal service and with an efficiency in terms of passengers-per-trip that would drive private carriers out of business. One conclusion was obvious: how much do we pay for all this?
It turns out the government won’t say. But since it was recently disclosed that the cost of extending certain routes by a few blocks required more than $500,000 in extra funds, we can fairly safely assume that the shuttle service, which runs from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. when the House of Commons is sitting — and from 7 to 5:15 p.m. even when the House is in recess — costs well into the millions.
Look at the map that accompanies that story. Behold the largesse! It demonstrates quite clearly that MPs and Hill staffers can, if they so choose, avoid walking just about anywhere on official business. At just about any time of day. Even on pleasant spring days. It’s somewhat remarkable that some federal party hasn’t suggested trimming the routes or service as a way to cut costs, especially since the service has survived several rounds of government belt-tightening over the decades.
If this isn’t low-hanging fruit, what is? Maybe that’s the point: no one wants to look cheesy among his colleagues by arguing for reductions of a service that everyone on the Hill must find more than a little handy.
One hates to sound all schoolmarm-ish, but would it be such a bad thing if people had to, you know, walk a little?
I remain under the impression that walking is good for you. So is saving money. It’s a win-win, really.Shuttle-bus extension costs taxpayers $500k
Tristin Hopper Jun 29, 2011http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/06/29/shuttle-bus-extension-costs-taxpayers-500k/
Since at least the 1980s, Canada’s parliamentarians have used a fleet of green buses to shuttle around an area the size of four city blocks. At average adult walking speeds, even the longest shuttle bus commute takes about 20 minutes by foot.
Parliamentary officials have repeatedly refused to disclose the total cost of the shuttle service. The Senate runs its own separate bus service, despite the Senate chamber being only a few steps from the House of Commons.
“It’s probably a more justifiable expense in the winter, but then again, most of us have to walk to where we go to work,” says Derek Fildebrandt, national research director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The Senate fleet has only two buses, but between them, they rack up more than 28,000 kilometres a year – almost enough for each bus to complete a yearly roundtrip from St. John’s, NL, to Inuvik, NWT. In 2006, the Senate announced a $1.3-million plan to outfit its fleet with three experimental hydrogen-fuelled buses. Another $1.6-million was spent establishing a nearby hydrogen refueling facility. Two years later, the vehicles were phased out.
It was not the first time the Senate spent millions on a questionable upgrade to its transportation infrastructure. In 1995, workers dug a $3.6-million marble-lined tunnel between the Centre and East blocks of Parliament to spare senators a 90-second walk through the outdoors – or a stroll through a less-luxurious utility tunnel.