Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Vancouver Mural Festival

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This afternoon we took a different kind of a walk. Instead of one of the beaches or the forest, this took in the industrial side of the city. Each year there is a mural festival in Vancouver where artists from here and around the world paint the sides of buildings.

There are several blog posts from 2017 this is the first of four.

Right now I am fighting with the flickr web site, which is where I usually put most of my pictures. I had hoped with their new independent status that they would become more reliable. Sadly, they are still far too often showing the “bad panda” excuse page. So I have uploaded this year’s pictures to the WP media library, in case flickr lets you down too.

You can find a map and other useful information on the Vancouver Mural Festival webpage

Garriya by Sonny Green: Australia
Pablo Zamudio
K C Hall : Raven Transformation
Homecoming by Kathy Ager
Eva Eskelinen
Sebastian Curi
William Liaou
Alex Joukov “Status Symbol”
“Cosmic Breeze” by Olivia de Liberto
Oneo

Sadly an artist coming here from Japan can get no respect from the local moronic “taggers” who have already defaced the mural (bottom right).

Medianeras
SatOne
Charlie Edmiston
Pamela Pinard and Syd Danger

There are several more new murals on the other side of Main Street. I will try to get to them.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 24, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Art

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A Picture of Progress

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I have been following the Washington State Department of Transportation on Flickr for quite a while. They are a remarkably progressive organisation and their photographers have captured some amazing images. But this evening they excelled themselves.

I am not going to comment I am just going to post the picture and their text.

Before and After photo of the I-5 and SR 16 interchange
Before and After photo of the I-5 and SR 16 interchange

“It’s easy to forget what the I-5/SR 16 interchange looked like before efforts began to widen the interchange. We found two photos that really show the comparison. The historic Nalley Valley interchange first opened to traffic in 1971. At the time, the average daily traffic volumes for both directions of SR 16 were 40,000 vehicles. Fast forward to 2018, and that number has tripled.”

And because I did not know where this is, here is a map

I5 SR16 Intersection Tacoma

Written by Stephen Rees

August 15, 2019 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Transportation

What I have been reading

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A useful list from the Guardian “Ten common myths about bike lanes – and why they’re wrong” which uses mostly UK data. And it is about a month old, but I only saw it today. For local readers, the switch of the Downtown Vancouver Business Association from anti-bike lane to pro, simply based on the business data of the members should be proof enough. It was thought that the loss of parking would hurt retailers, but it turns out that the people who ride bikes have more disposable income than those who spend a lot on owning and using a car.

Also from the Guardian – from their Cities section – is a useful explanation of how people use public spaces, based on research in New York City by SWA Group – in a gallery with useful commentary on the left hand side.

You can read “Our Renewable Future” by Richard Henberg and David Fridley on line. It was published a couple of years ago and if you haven’t had a chance to look at it you should.

New Trains from Bombardier for London Overground

“SERVICES over London Overground’s Gospel Oak – Barking line are now exclusively operated by four-car class 710 Aventra EMUs after the legacy two-car DMUs were phased out. One month free travel will be offered between August 31 and October 1 as compensation for the late delivery of the new fleet.” from the International Railway Journal

This used to be mainly a freight line transferring trains from the docks at Tilbury to the rest of the country, in between which ran one of the few peripheral passenger services around London (as opposed to to and from the centre). In recent years these services have been greatly improved by taking them into the regional service provider rather than the national railway which had tended to neglect them. Even though I lived in East Ham for 18 years or so, there was never really much need for us to use this line, but as a train enthusiast I found reasons to, later on.

I quite like the way that people who were inconvenienced by the switch now get compensated. This is common in Europe – but almost unheard of here. Apparently Canada is going to make airlines do something similar. Of course no compensation is ever considered for those stuck by the Greyhound withdrawal – or the appalling unreliability of VIA rail.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 6, 2019 at 5:17 pm

He’s Baaack!

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OK so maybe I was a bit hasty about using that “last post” title.

I got a tweet from the CBC that I wanted to share – but by the time I had found what it lead to the tweet was way off somewhere, and hard to find for even a simple retweet. Then I thought about sending it by email to by chums at Transport Action BC – but the rigmarole gmail puts me through to do that – I have not found how to do email lists – makes it daunting. And if I hit “reply all” I can’t change the thread Title.

Facebook just makes a muck of the links and the pictures.

So the CBC reports that there is a new, large archive of historical BC photos at UBC. So of course the first thing I do is go have a peek and search for train and streetcar images. “Train” produces 20 images of which this is the first

B.C. Electric Railway Freight Train photographer unknown

The Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs is currently being digitised but is both searchable and usable since the images have a Creative Commons license.

GOOD.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 28, 2019 at 10:14 am

The Last Post

I am going to add a link into the next paragraph, which will take you to an essay in Huffington Post. And then once that article opens up – if you decide to click that link, there is another link to “a long form essay “Facing Extinction“” if you prefer that. But the point of this first paragraph is to explain why I am posting this at all. I have been consciously backing off from the position I have been taking here for the last ten to fifteen years. At first it was more about “what do I do with myself in the absence of worthwhile employment?” Then it was about having solved the immediate issues of how I survive without a large salary every month (not that I ever thought I had a large salary) what do I do about the place I find myself. I long ago recognised that I would not be able to save the world. It turned out that it was immensely difficult to even make the small part of it that I occupied reasonably tolerable. It did not help either that some of the thoughts that had occurred to me actually got implemented. Not that I am about to claim credit for them – or anything. Other people think similar thoughts at the same time, is all. I just thought that I could keep on doing the same sort of policy analysis that I used to do for the government for the people who get governed. Until that seemed futile too. And boring and repetitive. I long ago stopped going on protests. I have stopped supporting political parties – and everyday, without fail, I get another confirmation that was a Good Choice.

So as I read this article, I kept finding myself in agreement. It is better than anything I could write – and there isn’t anything I feel the need to cavil about. And I have stopped myself from thinking that this is all too hard to face up to. It is not as if we have any choice at all. Except you – you who have stuck with me this far – you who still show up on the “like” list. You can stop reading this now. That’s ok. Don’t worry about it. You do not have to face extinction right now, if you don’t want to. But for those of you who are wondering why this post was an even an idea in the first place this is the link. I have checked it by sending it by email to someone else and confirmed that it works.

This is not a matter for comment or discussion. I am going to close comments for this post, and won’t be looking for any feedback. Please take the advice of the author of the article.

Good bye. And thanks for all the fish.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 22, 2019 at 7:26 pm

Captain’s Log

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#19 to Metrotown at Stanley Park
#19 leaving Stanley Park

Just a normal day in paradise – with times from the friendly systems that now track my movements

car2go from Yew at Nanton to the Aquatic Centre, English Bay (4.9km)

Depart 11:40am Arrive 11:54am

Bus from Stanley Park – after ten minutes wait at the terminus

2:26pm 19 to Ganville Street

2:54pm 16 to Nanton arrive 3:20pm (8.35km)

Despite heavy traffic on Georgia, the #19 made good time as it ran for most of the time as SORRY BUS FULL. The bus was a diesel, not a trolley, and was running a short turn to Main Street.

The wait on Granville Street seemed long as the Transit app kept reporting “real time” expected departure times that got updated intermittently.

I have not been using car2go much recently as there was often no car available when I wanted one. They sent me a rather plaintive email to tempt me back so the trip downtown was actually free.

Not that I was in a hurry or anything but I think I am going to be looking for car2go more often.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 15, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Posted in transit

Tagged with ,

Do we really want driverless buses?

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Image taken from original article in Smart Cities Dive

A consortium has been formed of US transit agencies who want to try out driverless buses. The idea is that the cost of getting into this new technology will be lower if it is shared.

I think the idea of a consortium to try out new technologies is a good one, and one that has a long history in transit. What worries me is that this is starting with a technology that I do not think needs to be the first priority. It is understandable, given the high percentage of overall operating cost that is due to driver’s wages and benefits. We have had driverless trains in this region for a long while. SkyTrain has also had significant numbers of people committed to patrolling the system to ensure passenger safety and security.

Recently an incident on the top deck of a British bus has awakened concerns here about passenger security on the double deckers shortly to be introduced here. (Hint: the driver has either a periscope or camera to see what is going on upstairs.) While assaults like this are relatively rare, bad behaviour by passengers is not. For this reason, bus operators are now getting protective screens on the new buses when they enter service. Equally, it is not unheard of for bus drivers to be the first responders in other cases of emergency. And one thing that we have probably all seen for ourselves is the reluctance of other people to get involved when someone else needs assistance. The response time to someone pressing an alarm on SkyTrain has also been an issue on occasion.

While a bus operator may not have all the skills and knowledge of a paramedic or a police officer, they are trained in what to do in an emergency. And often the interpersonal skills that they do have (and are now selected for) have been used to effectively reduce the tensions which can lead to rapid escalation.

There are autonomous buses in operation in France and elsewhere, but so far they have been limited to low speeds, short distances and relatively traffic free areas.

“The consortium [on the other hand] is expected to purchase 75 to 100 full-sized, autonomous buses that will run at full speed in real service environments.”

This seems to me to be unnecessary at this stage. And one of the things that has been improved in this region since I arrived has been the atmosphere on board buses since the emphasis in selection changed away from “has an air brake license” to “has people skills”. In general, the attitude and welcome you get on boarding the bus has been one of the best features of the ride. It would be a great shame to lose this. I also wonder how an autonomous bus would be alerted to the need to lower the ramp at a bus stop for a passenger with a disability – or delay starting until they were safely in place on board.


Written by Stephen Rees

June 9, 2019 at 11:07 am

Posted in transit

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