Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for September 21st, 2007

The Georgia Straight’s “Best of…” Edition

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Best double dipping

The premier’s former deputy minister, Ken Dobell, is a shoo-in. What can you say about a guy who contracts himself out as a provincial lobbyist (or “content consultant”, as he put it) for the City of Vancouver on housing issues at the same time he has a desk in the premier’s office as Gordon Campbell’s special adviser? Dobell, a former Vancouver city manager, managed to duck controversy for many years, despite playing a role in a couple of serious public-policy blunders. While he was CEO of TransLink, he was the real father of the Canada Line rapid-transit project, which has forced local businesses into bankruptcy and which could eventually do the same to TransLink. He has also been the premier’s point man on the ever-more-expensive expansion of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. It started out at $495 million but has since crossed the $800-million threshold (which is an overrun that is $55 million more than the $250-million fast-ferry overshoot that was seized upon by the B.C. Liberals to crush the NDP in the 2001 election). Back in the old days, he even recommended tearing down those lovely old houses in Mole Hill. Fortunately, he was overruled by the council of the day. But it was only when Dobell decided to get into the lobbying game that big media started questioning his activities. Not too seriously, mind you–just enough to ensure the public got a whiff of trouble.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 21, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Pay as you drive car insurance

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Richmond Review

Quite a useful piece from the Review’s “Wheels” section, perhaps to offset the accompanying glowing reviews of the new Jaguar XK, Chevy Suburban, Cadillac SRX SUV and the 2008 (much larger, bigger engined) Dodge Caravan, with the useful thought that you could cut emissions if you could opt for PAYD.

Of course, opting for a more fuel efficient car in the first place would also help (he said, smugly, having just swapped his old Caravan for a Yaris) as ICBC has not really been willing to give this idea its due. Since it was they who commissioned Todd Litman to research this issue in the first place, he might perhaps feel a little under appreciated. Which may account for his organizing a letter-writing campaign to pressure ICBC brass and MLAs.

In fact you might do no better than read his new research paper on the topic.

I think it is an excellent idea since it seems to me that the risk is clearly greater the more kilometres the vehicle is driven. Perhaps the way to do it is to have a flat fee to cover risks like theft (which may go up if a vehicle is left idle longer) and a rate which varies depending on the vehicle size/cost and the driver’s rating. Or how about a rebate: you pay the standard rate up front, but get some money back if you do less than the specified kms? Though my personal preference would be something that leaves more money in the drivers pocket and gives him an incentive to drive less (and I do think it is the hims we need to get to!).

Written by Stephen Rees

September 21, 2007 at 1:30 pm