Why is VIA Rail so expensive? I mean, at $140/barrel you'd think that passenger rail would be more competitive with buses, even in Ontario. But every time I check, it's usually almost twice as much to take the train from Toronto to Ottawa and back as it is to take the bus, provided I book 7 days in advance. Hypothesis?
1) Greyhound doesn't have to pay for its own roads. True, but neither does VIA -- it uses CP's rails. Though presumably not for free.
2) Greyhound buys its diesel in long-term contracts, and has been isolated from recent price spikes. Plausible, but we should have seen some movement.
3) VIA rail is a monopoly. More likely, but Greyhound is damn close to one on the Ottawa-Toronto route. I would assume both companies treat the Montreal-Windsor corridor as the cash cow, and price accordingly.
4) Unions? Both companies have to rely on heavily unionized workforces. Per passenger seat, I would assume VIA has the advantage here.
5) As always, I could be doing something wrong.
I don't know, I'm not convinced by any of the reasons I can think of (except of course #5.) If, only by booking a week in advance, I can get a ticket to Ottawa for <$100, it seems unreasonable that VIA can't offer similar rates, especially with the rapidly-escalating price of fuel and the inherent fuel efficiency of rail.