Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for December 29th, 2007

Interview with Gordon Campbell

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Vancouver Sun

The editorial board plays pat-a-cake with the premier – no hardhitting questions and not much of substance in his answers.

He of course takes credit for the upswing in the economy. Even though it has very little to do provincial policies – and, of course, he will distance himself next year if the economy slides due to circumstances outside of his control.

I think the climate initiatives we’ve undertaken have really engaged the public, the public service and the community as a whole in a way that is pretty exciting and bodes very well for the future.

Actually most of us are still waiting to see you actually do something – so far the announcements have been administrivia and blatant PR “photo ops”. Not much of any substance so far, apart from determination to widen a freeway and refusal to acknowledge the long term impact that will have.

we set out a goal for ourselves in the 2005 election to have the best air and water quality bar none in British Columbia and we’ve carried on with that sort of a process

Really? You mean there are no longer any beehive burners in BC? That every community has access to safe water and does not feel threatened by your relaxation of control over logging companies in watersheds? And that cloudy stuff that was coming out of our pipes recently – is that the best we can expect?

the transit legislation we just passed is going to be critical in terms of helping us reduce our greenhouse gasses and emissions.

Incredibly there was no follow up to that assertion. And since what follows is all about self determination for First Nations, why can’t Greater Vancouver have a bit of self determination over its transportation system?

Finally, I think the Asia-Pacific remains a huge opportunity for Canada and for British Columbia. We’ll be maintaining the momentum behind that, not just this year with the opening of the Port of Prince Rupert . . . .

Interesting that he tails off there. Again, recall that he is talking to a Vancouver newspaper – and environment is supposedly high on this man’s agenda. Yet the interviewer does not raise the impact of the SFPR on Burns Bog, or the expansion of Deltaport on an area identified as critical habitat.

Unfortunately we are not in control of the international currency challenges . . . . I think the critical thing is we have have a softwood lumber agreement that works, I think, to our interests.

See what did I tell you? And I doubt that the residents of all those places in the interior that saw their mills close this year, and the loss of projects to use woodwaste for energy that died when those mills could not sell their primary outputs when the bottom dropped out of the US dimensional lumber market, will agree that is is working in our interests. The softwood lumber deal was the best that could be rescued from an aggressive, protectionist US that we showed we were not prepared to stand up for our rights. Just about every legal proceeding had found the US claims to be unfounded and its actions to be illegal – but we still lose our primary industry. And no Campbell does not carry that can alone – Mr Harper helps with that one.

And of course it is now four years since the raid on the leg and we still have not seen the case come to court. I would like to think that it will all blow up just in time for the election but I guess we will have to just wait and see.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 29, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Environment, politics

New Light Rail Line for San Diego

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Union Tribune

This is the sort of thing that I would like to see here. We have a lot of railway track in this region – most of it has plenty of spare capacity. Upgrading it is not cheap but is much cheaper than new build. This particular example came in at “$21 million a mile …the lowest-cost new-start project in the nation by far.” The train is a diesel multiple unit built by Siemens and called by them a “Desiro” – of which many examples are in use – and will be operated by Veolia : there is a bit more information on wikipedia

I tried to find a decent sized image of one of the new trains but it turns out that my own picture of one used in Ottawa is better than anything else available at present. I can envisage these running on Arbutus or the old BCER line in the valley

Otrain approaching Bayview 2006 0608

Written by Stephen Rees

December 29, 2007 at 9:41 am

Why cars are bad

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This should link to another WordPress blog on transit, which has some US figures comparing the cost of using a car and transit.

What makes this relevant to readers of this blog is that our media is currently full of stories about the transit fare increase here. And this aspect, of course, was not covered at all. ( Or perhaps was not covered by the sources I have checked so far.) Now the media types will of course point to pressure on space and time. Even though most media have been filling up on reviews of the year and even more agency clippings than usual, to cover for staff holidays and the subsequent news shortage. But there is also a sneaky suspicion that I have that local free newspapers utterly depend on adverts – and the CBC looks just like a commercial tv station with its frequent interruptions of every program for commercials. And a big slab of those come from companies that make or sell cars or the fuel for them or bits to keep them going. It is not often that these ads slag off transit (remember the “wet dog smell” bus sign in a GM ad published by the Straight last year?) but that does not stop the news side of the business picking up all the bad things it can associate with transit.

The worst bit of the story on the CBC last night was the dramatic improvement that Translink is now claiming for its approval rating. Apparently the comparison made by the Translink report was with the year of the bus strike.

I watched “Citizen Kane” again this week. Back at the end of the last century, many more people in major cities were dependent on transit, which was run by a private sector concern. So for a new young publisher, stories that targeted the “transit trust” were sure to sell more papers. Things don’t change that much.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 29, 2007 at 7:42 am

Posted in transit

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