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

Archive for March 22nd, 2008

Gates for rapid transit, smart cards won’t come fast

with 17 comments

Jeff Nagel, Richmond Review

More of Falcon’s posturing shown up for being totally unrealistic. A good analysis of how much it has cost and how long it has taken other systems.

But that doesn’t  stop Bill McNulty giving his ill informed opinion

“I’m amazed there’s anything left to study on the installation of fare gates,” he said. “The province has been investigating fare gates since the 1990s, jurisdictions across Canada and the globe already successfully use them, so the time has come to stop investigating and start implementing the solution.”

How someone can be so ignorant of basic math and still get elected defeats me.

Falcon last fall ordered TransLink to quickly pursue a gated system in concert with smart cards to cut crime on the transit system, reduce fare evasion and counter the threat of terrorism.

Gates do NOT reduce crime. Both London and Paris have gated systems – and a major crime problem. Pickpockets have always found the crowded trains an easy place to work. Any time you get crowds jostling and shoving each other, as they do, the dips find easy picking. And they buy a ticket to get on board because it is a very small investment with a very high rate of return. Fare evasion continues to be an issue after gate installation. Many fare evaders simply regard it as a game – just like the phone phreaks and computer hackers. I don’t know about countering threats – there actually has been decline in threats being issued – the bombers on the Underground on 7/7 bought tickets and passed easily through the barriers. The electronic ticketing system offers no defense at all against a suicide bomber.

What we do know is that these systems have very high capital costs. And they have no effect at all in increasing ridership or market share. Current conditions show that we are barely keeping pace with the growth of population and travel as market share is static. Ridership is up as is service, but so is overcrowding and passups. We need investment in our system – mainly to increase its capacity – not to satisfy the false assumptions of loud mouths like McNulty and Falcon. Who seem to be only too ready to spend your tax dollars on stupid projects that appeal to their strange sensibilities but would never recognise a good idea if it came up and bit them. Like buying more buses and skytrain cars to ease overcrowding. Or extending bus services into poorly served areas, and increasing frequencies as a way of attracting more usage.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Posted in transit

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver EGM February 10, 2008

March 10, 2008
The Honourable Gordon Campbell, M.L.A.

Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

Re: The Gateway Project

Dear Mr. Premier:

We, the members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, are deeply grateful for the environmental leadership your government has shown in recent years. In addition to being instrumental in the purchase of Burns Bog, and its protection by a Conservation Covenant, the recent creation of North America’s first carbon tax demonstrates your government’s commitment to taking bold steps to prevent a Climate Crisis.

It is for these reasons that it is hard to understand why the government is committing billions of dollars to the Gateway project. It goes against so many of your laudable objectives.

Please take another look at Gateway from the perspective of 2008, or 2020. As its impacts mount, wouldn’t our children be better off without it?

Our congregation passed the enclosed resolution at a recent Extraordinary General Meeting with eighty-seven percent in favour. We are doing our best to link arms with people of all faiths to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the Fraser River delta. We are prepared to sacrifice, as previous generations did, to preserve the spiritual health of this blessed region, our home.

On behalf of the members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, I urge you to please reconsider continuing with the Gateway project. It would be our great pleasure to meet with you at your earliest convenience, preferably before the Faith and the Environment (F.A.T.E.) Conference, April 28, 2008 at Langara College.

Yours sincerely,

Elisabeth J. Geller

President, Unitarian Church of Vancouver

cc: Members of the Legislative Assembly, Victoria
Unitarian Congregations of British Columbia
Selected Faith Group Leaders, Scientists, Authors, and Leaders of Environmental and Social Justice Organizations

Gateway Resolution
Unitarian Church of Vancouver
Extraordinary General Meeting
February 10, 2008

Whereas: 1. The seventh Canadian Unitarian principle is
“We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all
existence of which we are a part.” and

Whereas: 2. The Climate Crisis is here. Global Warming demands
immediate changes in transportation structures and practices. Bringing
more trucks and cars into the Lower Mainland is unacceptable; and

Whereas: 3. The BC Ministry of Agriculture 2007 report on Food Self
Reliance clearly states that we have requirements for far more
sustainable agricultural land and production, particularly around urban
centres, than is currently available; and

Whereas: 4. The Gateway Program will:
a. increase greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and smog from
ships, trucks, single occupant cars, freight transfers and storage,
and affiliated industries and suppliers;
b. promote car dependent urban and suburban sprawl in the Lower
c. pave 241 acres of prime Agricultural Land Reserve farmland. It
will pollute and weaken viable farming in the Lower Mainland;
d. further compromise the integrity of Burns Bog and wildlife
habitat for millions of birds, migrating salmon, and other
species, and
e. eliminate choices for future generations by locking in
unsustainable transportation and urban development patterns;

Whereas: 5. On Sept. 29, 2007, the Environment Committee of the
Unitarian Church of Vancouver, and the Gateway 40 Network, co-
sponsored an educational event at our church at which Mayor Derek
Corrigan, Gordon Price, Dr. Wm. Rees and others spoke against the
implementation of the Gateway Program in its present form;

Therefore be it resolved that:

1. The Unitarian Church of Vancouver supports, and would like
governments at all levels to enact as soon as possible, Climate Change
solutions currently recommended by the David Suzuki Foundation
including, but not limited to, strategies in the Transportation Sector
a. reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and
b. promote
i. comfortable, affordable, public mass transit;
ii. proven traffic management structures, procedures,
and financial incentives to reduce congestion; and
iii. low pollution methods of moving freight.

Be it further resolved that:

2. The Unitarian Church of Vancouver publicly oppose the proposed
Terminal Two at Deltaport, as well as the following components of the
Canadian Pacific Gateway Strategy and the British Columbia
Government’s Gateway Program:
• Highway 1 expansion,
• the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, and
• the North and South Fraser Perimeter Roads.

Be it further resolved that:

3. The President of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, with the
support of the Environment Committee, be empowered to
communicate this opposition to elected officials and government
agencies (e.g. The Premier’s Climate Action Secretariat), to relevant
media, and to relevant religious, environmental and social justice

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2008 at 9:27 am

Posted in Gateway

Victoria suburb yields 850 BC archeological site

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Globe and Mail

Which may actually stop development cold. In fact they should not have been digging in this area (Colwood) in the first place. What is a shame in my mind is that a site like this was not found at that infamous intersection in Langford

And just in case no one noticed, what has stimulated development in the “Western Communities” was the widening of the highway which was being promoted when I first arrived in BC (just after the Commonwealth Games didn’t do what the Olympic Games are supposed to do but won’t either) as the cure for the “Colwood Crawl”. And yes, at that time we were being told that light rail for Victoria could not be justified – nor could a commuter service on the existing E&N track. Using the same sophistry as Kevin Falcon today uses in the Fraser Valley.

The sad thing is that we seem to be incapable of learning even from our own experience, let alone those of other places

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2008 at 8:51 am

Posted in Urban Planning

James to dodge traffic but not trouble over Port Mann Bridge

with 2 comments

Globe and Mail

Another good reason to dislike the Globe and Mail is the way that it mixes opinion and news in the same story – and reprints false assertions as though they were true. And printing a story under the strapline “Gridlock” is a good warning of where the editorial position is.

People who believe that twinning the Port Mann Bridge will solve congestion are deluded. Not only is there not one example of where this policy has worked, it has also been shown that the so called studies used by the Ministry of Transportation to support the proposal were based on totally unrealistic assumptions. And there are letters on line at the EAO web page from two federal government departments saying so.

Falcon is quoted once again as saying “I hope she enjoys the experience of the 14 hours a day of congestion that the Port Mann has” – but that in itself is a gross exaggeration. The congestion occurs at peak periods and not on the bridge at all but its approaches. And if Mr Falcon actually wanted to deal with that, all he need do is either twin the bridge but leave the freeway the way it is so that it is no longer the bottle neck, or provide transit on the existing structures (note the plural there).

The bridge is so congested that it hasn’t had bus service for 20 years because traffic would play havoc with schedules.

That is not Mr Falcon that is Justine Hunter, who calls herself a journalist. It is simply not true. Bus service across the bridge was withdrawn when the SkyTrain was extended into Surrey. Bus routes were diverted from serving downtown directly to feeding into SkyTrain. The justification had nothing to do with traffic. You do not spend billions on a rail rapid transit system and then operate buses in competition with it. That has been the long standing principle in this region since SkyTrain started and is still used today. Or will we be reading that we need to twin the Oak Street and Arthur Laing Bridges because they are “so congested that you cannot operate a bus across them” after the Canada Line opens? In fact when the modelling of demand across the bridge was done the imaginary transit routes they used were designed to not attract traffic! And even Translink admitted that they could operate a bus on the Port Mann using the HOV lanes and a new queue jumper – it was even in a three year transit plan – until they were told to take it out!

And before the idiots out there start saying I am advocating twinning the Port Mann – no I am not. IF you really care about congestion and spending money wisely, you use what we have better. We do not need any more road capacity across the Fraser. We need more people moving capacity. And we can do that more quickly and cheaply by increasing the number of SkyTrains across the SkyBridge – there is a great deal of unused track and signalling capacity there – and we should have a bus service across the Port Mann to link Coquitlam and North Surrey – because that is where most of the traffic is coming from at peak periods. It is NOT the trucks and it is NOT long distance travel. It is short distance commuting for which the current transit route is simply too indirect. And a queue jumper northbound is all that is needed and could be accommodated on the existing hard shoulder.

On the other hand if you want to promote more low density residential development in Surrey and Langley and encourage a lot more vehicle kilometres on the system then the NDP should indeed back the bridge. I happen to think that is a policy that was wrong back in the sixties when gas was cheap. Now we know a lot more about climate change we might be wise to think a bit longer term than a “quick fix” that has never ever worked to produce what Mr Falcon and Ms Hunter say it will do. Because there is no “gridlock” (go look it up). Traffic slows as it approaches the merges – and more lanes of traffic approach the bridge than cross it. And that will still be true after the project is built – the numbers of both simply double. So the amount of traffic congestion simply doubles too. And if Pete McMartin can work that out, so can most of the NDP voters in Surrey.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

The high cost of homelessness

with 6 comments

Every homeless person costs system $55,000, an amount that could buy supported housing for each of them

Lori Culbert, files from Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, March 21, 2008

Once again an academic social science study supports what most of us had suspected for a very long time. The right wing politicians have stuck to their discredited social policies for far too long. The problem is that the reality does not coincide with their preferred theories.

Sadly many of us have been propping up the failures of our politicians – with the best of intentions. But I am surprised it has taken us this long to work out the food banks made cuts to welfare workable. That the huge amounts of charitable efforts with the homeless have simply perpetuated the injustice of our failed housing market and the point blank refusal of governments of all political shades and levels to acknowledge their responsibilities. The people who work with the homeless and the distressed typically burn out themselves. They work ridiculously long hours for poor salaries, and they feel responsible for the failings of the system. We leave front line mental health care to police officers.

Astonishing to me is the arrogance of the conservative – who is also so often these days a fundamentalist Christian too – who asserts that government should not get involved – except to lock up law breakers. As though prisons have ever solved any social issue. But you will find many people whose knee jerk response is to every problem is a tax cut and “law and order”.

The study argues homelessness has been increasing since the 1980s because of rising inflation, rents and unemployment, along with a decline in social assistance and cutbacks in government housing programs.

You might also want to think about what a lower than poverty level minimum wage does too – and a hospital system that relies on lotteries to buy basic equipment. Or a government that thinks casinos are a good way to increase revenues.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman was also not available for comment today.

To see the complete study go to:

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2008 at 7:43 am

Posted in health, housing