Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for October 2nd, 2007

Top 5 cities for public transit

with 2 comments


5  Moscow, Russia

4  Paris, France

3  London, England

2  New York, USA

1  Tokyo, Japan

Not exactly an objective measurement: I think I probably agree on the top 5 but would probably quibble about the order.  Note that Canada does not even get a mention – no surprise there.

I think as well they are confusing “biggest” with “best”. I would bet some smaller European cities would score much higher if you used an objective measurement like service kilometres operated per head of population.  And Shanghai is going to be in there soon.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Posted in transit

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Greenhouse gas plan just political hot air

with 2 comments

Richmond News

It is not often that i come across an editorial that I wholeheartedly agree with. Even rarer is one from the stable.  But today’s effort in the local News is quite remarkable. So i am going to reproduce all of it as printed.

Stephen Harper’s announcement last week that the world should scrap hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions raises an interesting question: Of our two leading federal parties, which has done more to accelerate global warming?

The Liberal Party of Canada, under the auspices of Jean Chrétien, hatched a plan and then did nothing; now the Conservative party, under the direction of our current prime minister, has hatched a plan specifically to do nothing.

In 1998, the Liberals committed to reduce Canada’s emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. They then watched happily as our output skyrocketed 24 per cent.

When the Conservatives took power last year, they lambasted the Liberals for their lack of action, promising to take decisive steps in the form of a “Made-in-Canada” solution.

Last week, Harper made it clear that that solution will be to allow emissions to continue increasing. He called for intensity targets, whereby polluters can release ever-greater quantities of greenhouse gases each year, as long as they make a certain amount of money doing so.

Harper’s deliberate acceleration in the wrong direction makes his government a strong contender for the prize, although his predecessor’s complete lack of effort on the issue has certainly given him a run for his money. The contest may be too close to call.

Our provincial government’s distant deadlines and toothless resolutions could end up trumping them both.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2007 at 12:32 pm

NDP opposition to twinning Port Mann Bridge is off track

with 3 comments

The Province: Leader – Sunday

the reality is that for thousands of hard-working Lower Mainlanders there is not now, nor is there likely to be in the near future, any reasonable alternative to using their cars to get to work

Exactly. I could not agree more. Which is why the NDP is not “off track”, becuase they have been calling for more money for transit now, not bridge twinning and more freeways in the next decade.

People moved out to the suburbs, because the lack of density in Vancouver (outside the downtown core) made living closer to their jobs unaffordable. Then the jobs moved to the burbs too as industrial and port lands were converted to condos. Places like Coquitlam and Port Moody were developed because rapid transit was coming – but has still yet to be started! Surrey and Langley developed into car oriented suburbs – simply because there was no credible alternative.

Why will twinning the Port Mann make any of this any better? It won’t, and it can’t. It simply reinforces the pattern we now have. Which is not working very well and will become much worse and less affordable, and the environment will not get any better either.

The NDP has finally adopted the strategy that the LRC has been promoting for some time. Which has been shown to work elsewhere – and which can be implemented here and now. A queue jumper lane on the south side of the bridge for buses only. A direct route from North Surrey to Coquitlam. In terms of the amounts of money needed to build a new bridge and widen the freeway, this is dirt cheap and will be effective, because at long last the people who now have to drive have a realistic option. The demand is there now. More people can cross the bridge, because on a bus you can carry many more of them using the existing facility.

All you have to do is change the “is not likely to be” part of the equation. Which is why Gordon Campbell’s “green” posturing is so depressing. There are a lot of things the provincial government could do now at little cost that would be very effective – none more so than investing in transit. Not boasting about the $50million already promised (many times) most of which goes to replace existing, clapped out buses, but real transit expansion, real on street priority (converting existing lanes to bus and cycles only). They don’t even have to be hybrid or hydrogen buses – the current generation of clean diesel is still much better (and much cheaper) per passenger kilometre than the current fleet of cars and light trucks at low occupancy rates.

The crunch will be finding garage space to keep the buses in – and people to operate them. Not insuperable problems for a government determined to change current trends, but not in any of the BC Liberal plans.  But could be if the NDP get back into power.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2007 at 10:41 am

Posted in Gateway, transit