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

Archive for November 15th, 2007

Critics line up against neo-Translink Bill 43

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Good piece by Matthew Burrows in the Straight

I cannot resist this quote

“If this were the old Soviet parliament, perhaps, or the Politburo, or if this was the meeting of the plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party, one could understand this kind of legislation,” Krog said in comments recorded in Hansard. “But this is British Columbia in the 21st century.”

Written by Stephen Rees

November 15, 2007 at 11:55 am

Posted in regional government

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Government unveils plans to slash emissions

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B.C. climate action secretariat head Graham Whitmarsh, in his first public appearance since being appointed last May, told a Vancouver audience that legislation to slash emissions 33 per cent by 2020 will be introduced this fall, and will be in force within a year.Over the longer term, Whitmarsh said, B.C.’s efforts will mean less consumption of fossil fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles, more public transit, more compact urban growth, and less onerous commutes between work and home.

“To me, it seems like common sense that we should burn even our fossil fuels at a slower rate and have more efficient cars, that we should live in community again instead of diverse, sprawling communities that some of us are forced to live in today.

“I don’t think it is necessarily a bad place we end up in. In fact, I could argue it’s actually a positive place,” he said.

I have quoted more extensively than usual because it is important. This is what the Government is saying about Climate Change. Graham Whitmarsh is not some political hack talking off the cuff at some fund raiser. This is a statement of intention from the head of a new agency – not about the target already announced, but how it is going to be achieved. Allow me to repeat

more public transit, more compact urban growth, and less onerous commutes between work and home.

That is a strategy which I whole heartedly endorse. Now, can you please explain how widening Highway 1 from Vancouver to Langley is going to help achieve any of those aims? And please do not respond that the EA submission shows how the project will positively help the environment, because we have read it carefully and it is clear that is a shoddy, poorly argued and unsupported claim. The Gateway program is utterly contrary to the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will not achieve any of its stated objectives and will be hugely expensive – much more expensive than the government is currently admitting. The same sums spent on utilizing existing infrastructure, through more SkyTrains to Surrey and rapid buses across the Port Mann now (not in six years time) , as well as more passenger services on existing railway lines, will all help achieve the objectives and the “positive place” Mr Whitmarsh refers to.

It is probably too much to expect that Kevin and Gordon will admit they were wrong, and make a big show of a policy shift, like they did on fare gates. But I don’t think we necessarily need that. Just get on with the queue jumpers and place some orders for more buses and SkyTrain cars – and begin a more extensive recruitment campaign. Not just for attendants and security at existing stations but actually achieve a bigger run out of buses onto the streets every peak period. And allow the plans for the new bridge and the extra lanes to go back into the drawers again. Together with all the other plans to build more highways. Because we will not be needing them. Or the hydrogen highway come to that. Let us just concentrate on doing what we know will work, using existing technologies that are cheaper and more effective.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 15, 2007 at 10:50 am

Changing TransLink is futile until Falcon lets go

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It is not often I find myself agreeing with a Vancouver Sun editorial.

Indeed in this case I would have stopped at “Changing TransLink is futile” – since the change that is proposed is pointless. It will not help make transit any better, nor will we see significant increases in transit’s mode share (which should be the main objective of its policies).

But at least we get some insight now into what the information about turnstiles was that convinced Falcon they would be worth trying here. I am not convinced by it – but I do agree that the new board is the right group to look at it, if we must have a new board.

And Falcon cannot let go. Not yet and probably not at all. He is not yet sure if he will get to be premier – and Gordo shows no sign of going. So Kevin needs to have a solid record of decision making behind him. Of course, it would really help if he could find something else to do before the consequences of the decisions he is making start hitting home. That will make it easier to shift the blame to his succesor(s). And I have no doubt at all that we would all be much better off if someone offered Kevin a job doing something else – though he is a bit young yet to be a Senator.

And anyway, in Canada we do not sack politicians for sheer incompetence, no matter how bad the decision making may be. Glen Clark was not forced to resign over the Fast Ferries or the Millennium Line but a deck – and a hunting knife. Mulroney darn nearly ruined the country and came within inches of Quebec separation. But its the money in the brown envelope that is dogging him. Same with Van derZalm: not crippling regional planning so he could develop Fantasy Gardens, but taking a brown paper bag full of cash.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

Posted in politics