Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 10th, 2007

No change please

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Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free

In Britain bus routes do not change, even though everything else about them – who runs the buses, how they are paid for, what company operates the route – changes frequently.

In Vancouver, bus routes are the playthings of transit planners who have little else to do. They ought to be planning the expansion of the system, but that idea died along with the new sources of funding years ago. They ought to be winning a bigger market share. Instead they are stuck. Buses are overcrowded and unreliable because the UPass was never thought out properly and the munis control the road and mulishly refuse to countenance adequate bus priority measures (see recent post on bus priority on Broadway as an example).

So the #14 disappeared some years ago even though it is still being celebrated on stage. The number of the Granville bus has changed so often, and the route it links to has been switched around at the same time, that I no longer know – or care – where it goes. In Richmond half the route numbers disappeared when the 98B-Line was introduced only to reappear again on the same routes with different numbers as “express buses” – some of which are so slow I can beat them on my bike.

And in a few years time the introduction of the Canada Line will be another great opportunity to bring about change as long suffering long distance bus commuters – forced by sheer stupidity into seats with inadequate leg room for their long ride – will have to get off and try to squeeze in to the new Canada Line trains along with the people from Richmond. Going home of course will be even worse as the trains will already be full of South Vancouver commuters and half the trains will be running empty out to the airport despite the ongoing taxi shortage.

The bus routes I knew as a boy with a Red Rover 2/6d all day ticket are still running today. They mostly terminate at pubs, because once upon a time that is where the bus driver changed horses. The bus routes reflect an urban structure that is little changed. A region that is growing rapidly should be seeing many more new bus routes. But the parts of the region that are growing the fastest see the least change. Is it any wonder that these new residents drive everywhere?

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Transportation

What can I do?

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Guardian Unlimited Environment

Lots of good suggestions. UK content of course, but it should not be hard to find local equivalents to most of these and if you can’t, start putting pressure in  the right places so we can.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Runway fight heats up as BAA buys out homeowners

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UK News | The Observer

More on the expansion of Stansted airport. I am sorry if this appears to be a bit of a personal obsession of mine, but I used to live in that part of the world. Essex has a very undeserved reputation and some of the villages and countryside north of Epping are quite lovely, if in a rather understated sort of way.

If I was just concerned about personal convenience, travelling to Stansted airport would have saved me a lot of time. No regular services from Canada go there – though some charters at peak season might – which is not when or how I travel.

Mostly it is about the way BAA behaves. As though runway expansion is a done deal and it does not have to wait until it has all the approvals in place before it starts buying out the neighbours. Kevin Falcon is not the only one who behaves in this way.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Air Travel

Ideas on how the provincial budget can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Province of British Columbia

Carole Taylor wants our ideas on how the budget can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is what I sent her:

1) Exempt all forms of mass transit from the collection of provincial tax. This includes the gas tax that is currently recycled through various levels of government. It is ludicrous that Translink collects tax from itself on the fuel it uses. It is also simply wrong that the provincial treasury collects fuel tax from municipal transit systems which are largely supported by municipal taxes.

Transportation of people by bus is much more energy efficient that car use. The tax exemption should therefore be extended to work and school buses, long distance bus services and registered van pools.

2) Railways and inland waterways are also much more energy efficient ways of moving freight than trucks. Exempt these modes from provincial fuel tax to improve their competitive position vis a vis trucking.

3) The Liberal government very foolishly reduced the luxury tax on vehicles. This should now be put back or alternatively increased for large vehicles used for personal transport. All vehicles that can achieve low fuel consumption figures, whatever their configuration, should be encouraged, but the tax incentive for hybrid SUVs should be withdrawn. This incentive for large passenger carrying vehicles is self defeating. Any new vehicle that consumes more than 10 liters per 100 kms should be penalised, and the penalty should be graduated so the the largest pay the highest penalty. This penalty system must also apply to light duty trucks used for personal transport. Essential users should be able to apply for a rebate if they can show that the vehicle is mainly used for the movement of freight or essential equipment. The rebate should only be available to charities and businesses registered and paying taxes in BC and not to individuals who use light duty trucks solely or mainly for personal transport.

4) Introduce a tax reduction for biodiesel and for automotive fuels made from waste. No tax exemption should be considered for fuels made from products which would otherwise be used as human or animal food (therefore no tax incentive should be provided for ethanol from grain as it is arguably more energy consuming than saving).

5) Eliminate provincial sales tax on all energy saving devices including insulation, set back thermostats, solar panels, double glazing, ground source heat pumps, low flow shower heads and so on

6) Dig out the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan written for the province in 1996 by civil servants at the Ministry of Energy and all subsequently laid off. This plan was never implemented but identified 48 different initiatives that could be introduced that would pay for themselves with a year or two at the energy prices then prevailing. Ask why these measures have not been introduced.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2007 at 10:04 am