Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for January 28th, 2008

Promise to spend $17.5B on transit can’t be trusted without legislation: report

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January 28, 2008 – 15:47

TORONTO – A new report warns that a government promise to spend $17.5 billion on public transit can’t be trusted without legislation to guarantee the funding.

The report commissioned by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario also says the MoveOntario 2020 plan is based more on political considerations than on need or cost effectiveness.

One again Dick Soberman points out the flaws in a seemingly positive plan. Just as in BC, Onatrio has been making lavish promises of more transit. There’s an election coming up there too.

Author Richard Soberman says the government’s blueprint to launch 52 transit projects is an example of top-down planning, and a reversal of the typical approach.

He says professional advisers should have been the ones determine the best way to reshape the province’s public transit.

Which of course applies equally here. Except here we also have to add a rider that the professional advisers should actually know something about transit. Unlike the “professional advisers” who now sit on the SoCoBriTCA. Or the people appointed to oversee the two last extension sof our rail rapid transit network. Leicia Stewart and Jane Bird could hardly have been called qualified when they were told to build the Millennium and Canada lines respectively – though both learned fast on the job – but then they had to.

At least unlike Kevin Falcon they both appeared to me to listen to some of the very smart people around them. But then neither were elected politicians either. But both were working for governments that had decided to proceed with major projects before any analysis had been done. Such studies as were done were after the event justifications for done deals. Which appears to be the way we do things here.

And as I think I have written here, and fairly recently at that, Ontario has seen this kind of promise not delivered too.

No wonder this blog keeps repeating itself. Our governments continue to repeat the same mistakes – and expect a different outcome.



Written by Stephen Rees

January 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Transportation

Angry commuters hold rail fares ‘strike’

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The Guardian

Strike is in inverted commas because most people taking part in, a fairly imaginative, well organised protest did actually pay their fares. Probably because they are holders of season tickets, as most regular commuters are.

The protest is mostly about the dreadful service – recent fare increases adding insult to injury. So the thought occurred to me is, why we have not seen this type of action here? Maybe we are just so used to poor quality transit that it just does not occur to us that it is worth complaining. After all, we have been grumbling for years and not much is happening. At least in Britain there is the thought that the company might lose its franchise, and get replaced by someone else. That did happen on a  London commuter route – the London, Tilbury and Southend – which was known as “the misery line”, and it is now one of the best in terms of service reliability.

Here there is no choice and there won’t be.  And the only protests were ineffective stunts pulled by the Bus Riders Union which have gained very little support. I think because they lacked the sense of fun that has been behind some of the more successful campaigns like Critical Mass or the Car Free festival. The BRU always come across as a bit grim.

Also note that FGW does have barriers at its stations but still has procedures in place to deal with fare evaders. Barriers, you see, do not stop fare evasion, they just require fare evaders to be a bit more creative.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 28, 2008 at 9:39 am

Posted in transit