MLA tries to take public transit to get to work. It takes 24 hours and costs $250

·4 min read
Green MLA Kevin Arseneau started his trip by biking to the Rogersville train station. (Kevin Arseneau/Twitter - image credit)
Green MLA Kevin Arseneau started his trip by biking to the Rogersville train station. (Kevin Arseneau/Twitter - image credit)

MLA Kevin Arseneau did not pack enough snacks for his 24-hour trek to work.

The comically convoluted and videotoaped commute — which cost $250 for a measly 170 kilometres  — was meant to prove a point to the provincial government: Public transit as it exists in New Brunswick does not prioritize accessible and efficient transportation.

The unexpectedly long trip meant the Green Party MLA had to rely on dried apples brought by his camera person between vending machines or rest stops.

"We munched on those a few times, though I guess you could call that cheating because I wasn't supposed to have a cameraman with me," said Arseneau, who represents the riding of Kent North.

"And but no, it was mostly, you know, eating either in a little restaurant close to the stations are in vending machines."

All aboard

The resulting video shows the multiple stops Arseneau had to make.

Dragging a wheeled carry-on and with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, Arseneau biked eight kilometres from his Rogersville home to the train station in the village. The first time he did so, last Monday, he missed the Via Rail train because he was supposed to book the ticket to Moncton at least three hours in advance.

He did not let this foil his plans. The next train was Wednesday, but it went to Miramichi, not Moncton.

So on Wednesday, he got on that train, which took him to his first destination. He then took a Miramichi Transit bus to a hotel room and waited until the next morning for another bus to take him to Moncton. Then he waited two hours for another bus to take him to his final destination, Fredericton.

A final bus ride dropped him off near the legislature.

He arrived exhausted on Thursday.

"You realize very, very quickly that that doesn't make sense," he said.

Arseneau said the plan was to put himself in a scenario where his car breaks down, and he has to rely on public transportation to get to the legislature in Fredericton. He also minimized walking, because not everyone can, and an efficient system would be accessible to them as well.

"I was trying not to take for granted … not trying to be just like, 'Oh, you know, I could walk here,'" he said. "I was trying to use every little piece of public transit to get where I was going."

'It would have been a lot faster to just bike'

He said thatf after the trip he calculated the most efficient way to make the trip. With no delays or mistakes, it would take him nine hours to get from Rogersville to Fredericton. He could bike that distance in eight hours, and drive it in two.

"It would have been a lot faster to just bike," he said.

Kevin Arseneau/Twitter
Kevin Arseneau/Twitter

He could have also taken a cab, but that would have cost more than $400.

And if he wanted to make it in time for work, and stay in Fredericton all week, the schedule means he would get three hours at home every week.

"It doesn't work for real-life situations. It doesn't work and it's not affordable."

No one solution

Arseneau said there is no single solution to the transportation problems in New Brunswick.

It's not likely that one train would connect every part, or one bus. He said the solution includes getting all current systems, municipal, private and provincial, to talk and work with each other.

This, on top of increasing services on all fronts, would likely serve people better while being affordable and better for the environment.

"Bus routes that bring communities together need to be part of the solution," he said. "Carpooling needs to be part of the solution. Car sharing and needs to be part of the solution. There needs to be, at the same time, some investments in public transit systems, but also taking away barriers and that are stopping different different forms of of public transit."

Kevin Arseneau/Twitter
Kevin Arseneau/Twitter

During question period Tuesday, Arseneau challenged other MLAs to use public transport to get to work too and said it likely won't be pleasant.

Trying to answer criticism from the opposition, Premier Blaine Higgs said population is what drives change in public transportation.

"Maybe if our population growth continues in its current pace … we're going to get there in pockets of our province," he said.

He said it's true the province is in "uncharted territory" with high inflation and gas prices, but "we will continue to meet the challenge of those that need it the most."

"It doesn't mean you can be everything to everybody, but you've got to be something to somebody that really needs it."

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