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Old Posted Aug 25, 2019, 4:46 PM
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Aylmer Aylmer is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Montreal (C-D-N) / Ottawa (Aylmer)
Posts: 5,236
For a weekend trip, there are the following options:

Drive
- CAD 100 in gas return
- CAD 100 for parking for a weekend
- CAD 180 for two nights at a hostel dorm (and double for a hotel room)
- 6h of daylight hours per way
TOTAL: CAD 400 - 500


Fly
- CAD 300 for a return (via YYZ) or CAD 370 (direct)
- CAD 180 for two nights at a hostel dorm (and double for a hotel room)
- 4h-6h30 daylight hours per way (2h to get to the gate, 4h via YYZ/1h30 direct, 0h30 to get from the airport)
TOTAL: CAD 500 - 750


Overnight train
- CAD 400 round
- CAD 90 for one night at a hostel, double for a room
- No daylight hour travel
TOTAL: CAD 500 - 600


To be honest, looking at it this way, I might actually be tempted to use the overnight train for a weekend trip. It's financially competitive, and I'd definitely pay a little more to have a full weekend in the city and to not have to have it bookended by exhausting daytime travel. Just showing up, falling asleep, and waking up at my destination sounds great.

That said, it becomes harder to justify when you're travelling with two people;
Driving: $600 - 900
Flying : $1000 - 1500
Train : $100 - 1200
I might still do it then just to avoid the drive and to have a more pleasant weekend without those rough quarter-day drives and midnight arrivals. But once you get to three people or a family, it's just hard to justify it. This is a problem for transit options more generally.

If they could get down to Thello prices ($100-200 for a basic bunk in a shared room), then it'd be a no-brainer. But as it is, it still makes sense for a single traveller and for driving-averse couples. And it would always be a better option than flying.

One more point; as LRT's friend mentioned, the current train arrival time means that you can't catch connections to Ottawa or Quebec City. An 8pm departure would mean that I could leave Ottawa after work and make the connection to NYC, and catch a morning train on my way back. It's the same on the NYC end, where you could connect to Boston, Philadelphia or DC. It increases the usefulness of the service, making significantly more arrival/departure options possible.
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