March 11, 2010 by juniorannex
My few readers will have noted by now that Junior travels a wee bit – perhaps more than is strictly necessary. In my roamings, I have had on occasion the pleasure opportunity to travel on Canada’s own VIA Rail. For uninitiated, VIA Rail is a passenger rail service wholly owned by the taxpayers of Canada, known in the parlance as a Crown Corporation. In this regard it is not unlike AMTRAK (USA), or any of a dozen or more European state-owned passenger rail services. Thus it is run largely for the benefit of its employees and where passengers are noticed at all, it is with at best diffidence and more often with sufferance.
In comparing modes of transport it is often difficult to find true comparisons of merit, since the modes differ significantly enough as to pose problems finding commonalities. Except where it comes to service. Leaving aside private automobiles, where the service offered to the passengers is diffident at best and downright awful at times (particularly in Junior’s chariot), passengers in Canada have two options – fly or ride the Iron Horse. Edward the Corgi has heard my theory before – but for those who have never heard it – thus. On the whole and with evidence of my own eyes, Air Canada is miserably incompetent, whilst VIA Rail is cheerfully incompetent.
Both treat their passengers as afterthoughts – just annoyances that they must put up with to earn their paycheck – but at least VIA Rail employees seem happy about their lot in life. Case in Point: today I returned home to our fair city aboard VIA and observed the following (1) plenty of beer, but no glasses to pour it in spawning much discussion whether it would be safe to offer it in bottles only (!) – net result, beer requested, beer offered, happy customer. On Air Canada you are lucky if the beer cart makes it past your row. (2) Passenger arrived without ticket, was seated and then proceeded to spend 20 minutes on the phone with VIA to obtain his ticket via email to his iphone. Try that with AC. (3) In every case where Junior has been a guest of VIA, the staff seemed happy, a little inefficient but happy. Of course, as E the C can attest, on several occassions, Junior’s judgement may have been impaired somewhat, on account of the ‘hollywood’ beverage cart (never ending supply). On AC, staff are inefficient, unhappy and only too glad to show it.