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

Archive for February 8th, 2008

The slow lane

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The Economist February 7 Print Edition

A short but educational piece on transit in Santiago, Chile.

the overhaul of Santiago’s public-transport system, launched in February 2007, has turned into a nightmare for commuters in Chile’s capital. A year on, the multitude of flaws and glitches in the new scheme, called Transantiago, are gradually being fixed.

Far too often new brooms are brought in to sweep clean, but end up with something even worse than they started with. It is very heartening to see well run systems, but we all learn from our mistakes. It is much cheaper to learn from the mistakes of others.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Posted in transit

TransLink board pay soars

with 5 comments

By Jeff Nagel – BC Local News – February 08, 2008

The GVTA was said to be “disfunctional”, which is debatable. The new SoCoBriTCA has yet to establish itself – but now will have a well earned reputation for profligacy. Now they will be able to say that it is not their fault. Apparently they were forced by the legislation to have the corn stuffed into their crops.

“I guess that’s what you get when you get a professional board,” laughed former TransLink director Gordy Robson, the mayor of Maple Ridge, when told how much his replacements are paid.

“It’s a very rich package,” he said. “I think it very interesting that’s the first issue of business.”

Except for one board member, they do not have much professional experience of transit, transportation or regional planning.

No one has ever paid me for speaking at a public meeting

Directors who speak to other groups on behalf of the board may also be paid a $1,200 fee for those authorized speaking engagements.

Though I have had some very nice little gifts, nothing like $1,200 worth.

I think if I had covered this story I might have been tempted to go ask a random bus passenger what they though – especially if I could find a single mother on welfare who probably never ever sees $1,200 on one cheque for a few hours socialising. I understand some people have a fear of public speaking, so I suppose this is like danger money.

UPDATE Feb 9 The Sun has Mike Harcourt doing the soft shoe suffle. We have to pay these people this kind of money he says. The old board were just Mayors (no account bums willing to work for peanuts apparently) whereas these are the sort of people who alos get seats on the airport board – or come to that the Port Board where Mike must be pulling down a fair buit himself. Hard to believe he used to be Mayor of vancouver and an NDP premier. Obviously his self declared “recovery” from being a politician is going well.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Posted in transit


with 3 comments


BIG NEWS! for all all Car-Free Volunteer superheroes….the time has come…spread the word…

CAR-FREE VANCOUVER DAY is happening! Sunday, June 15 (Fathers Day) 2008

YOU are the people who made the Car-Free Commercial Drive Festival such a groundbreaking, pavement-popping success, proving that massive, grass-roots, volunteer-led car-free events can and will happen. The people jive, businesses thrive, and our streets come alive. Since 2005 we have been throwing it down in East Van to celebrate our neighbourhood, with up to 50,000 people coming out to play in the street (even in the pouring rain!). Now is our chance take the next step, and revel in a car-free vision of our future city.

Car-free Vancouver Day will comprise half a dozen Car-Free Festivals throughout the city, happening more-or-less simultaneously, each with its own distinctive flavour and style. Every Festival is independently organized and pruduced, with 100% volunteer labour.


Each Community Festival is now organizing into festival PODS. A ‘pod’ is an independent crew who take an idea and runs with it… such as site management, spoken word, DJ, bike circus, street food, kids zone, yoga, healing, street hockey, barricades, volunteer, recycling, live music, and so on (you get the idea). They report to the overall ‘organizer’ pod to seek guidance, support, and (sometimes) modest funding as needed. Also needed are artists, designers, tech peeps, poster crews, logistics gurus, stage managers, puppeteers, and weather doctors.

Last but far from least, each Fest will depend on a small army of day-of helpers to staff barricades, set up, clean up, run about, and make sure everything runs strictly in accordance with the rules of joyful chaos. So if you want to contribute on the day-of, for an hour or two or more, please put your name forward and we will get back to you as the date gets closer.

And don’t think you necessarily need to participate in your “home” community — this is our city, and it belongs to all of us.

So please, come to one of the following organizing meetings, or contact the relevant organizer NOW! It’s time to take back our streets…for FUN!

Our website is —  check it out and sign up now for fast-breaking news, info and discussion. For more info about Car-Free Vancouver Day email


CAR-FREE CAMBIE STREET FESTIVAL Tuesday February 12th, 7-9pm at Douglas Park Community Centre,  Orca Room, 801 22nd Avenue West (at Willow) Info: or call Amy at 604.873-9987

CAR-FREE COMMERCIAL DRIVE FESTIVAL Wednesday, February 13th from 7-9pm at 1707 Charles Street (the Turks building), around the side through the wooden gate. Info: or call Craig at 604.320.6560.

CAR-FREE MAIN STREET FESTIVAL Sunday February 17th,  2pm at Mount Pleasant Community Centre, 3161 Ontario Street at 16th, Arts & Crafts Room Info:

CAR-FREE WEST END FESTIVAL Monday, February 25, 7pm at Gordon Neighbourhood House 1019 Broughton St. (@ Nelson).   Info: or call Dave at 604-646-4615

CAR-FREE MARPOLE FESTIVAL Thursday February 28, 7pm at Marine Court Housing Co-op Common Room, 1599 West 71 Ave (across the street from Mackie Park. The common room is in building 1 by the mailboxes. Info: or call Claudia at 604.418.8232

CAR-FREE KITSILANO FESTIVAL Kits is doing something a little different – planning to blanket the neighbourhood streets with individual block parties. Please participate or be a block-party host for your street! A block-party organizers workshop is upcoming. Info: or call Mel at 604.731.0599.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Posted in car free day

Sarkozy’s rescue plan for suburbs

with 2 comments

BBC News

There is absolutely no doubt that something must be done. The scene of riots on more than occasion, and of continuing deep alienation of a significant number of people. What is depressing is that Sarkozy has absolutely no idea of what is needed, and simply goes to the standard right wing play book. A crack down on drug dealing, bussing school kids, some new houses and the right to buy. I am surprised he left out the tax cut. When, anywhere, have these policies done any good?

What these young people need are jobs. The problem, surely, is 40% youth unemployment. Where is the strategy to deal with that? And yes there are things that work. There is an Australian company that contracts to governments and is paid by results that gets people out of long term unemployment and into good, permanent jobs. The company only gets paid for results and is one of the best examples I know of that shows contracting out can work. They have been working in France long before Sarkozy got into power. The company was created by Therese Rein wife of Australian PM Kevin Rudd, and to avoid the appearance of conflict no longer works for the parent company but goes around the world setting up companies like workdirections. (And yes, she did visit Vancouver, and was told she was not needed here!) The only reason I know all this is my sister works for them.

A number of US cities have “welfare to work” programs. One of the things they tackle is that people who live in deprived areas and have no jobs also find it hard to travel – they cannot afford the car that most US cities require as a minimum of any kind of life at all. They will give people bus tickets so they can get to a job for the time it takes for the employer to actually pay them something. They will work with transit agencies to ensure that services run at the right times and to the right places.

Either of these approaches has impeccable right wing credentials. Neither has a lot of opportunity for grand gestures like pulling down an ugly tower block. So guess which one Sarkozy will chose.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2008 at 8:18 am