Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for March 25th, 2008

We do not pay much in gas tax here

with 16 comments

The graphic below comes from the Economist and shows that, gas prices aside, and although we like to complain about how much tax we have to pay on top of that compared to nearly everyone – except the Americans – we get off pretty lightly

Although the selection is small I agree it is mostly places like us. Iranians pay hardly anything – but they are not on this graph

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Posted in energy, Transportation

Tagged with

Can a simple bus be so hated?

with 11 comments


Interesting contrast of attitudes here and there.

This is a “problem” in London, apparently.

bendy bus bending

Here, this isn’t. So far as I am aware anyway. Is this just another manifestation of the popular “not invented here” syndrome? Did Victoria have this problem when they brought in UK built doubledeckers? – or were the locals ok because they had seen them on tourist services there for so long. I bet Translink would hear howls if they brought them in here – far too dangerous for Vancouver – people will fall down the stairs – what about the seniors?

UPDATE April 5, 2008

Marina Hyde, The Guardian

Then again, let us not be too dismissive on the ideas front. Let us not forget the bus obsession. Bendy or Routemaster? Double- or single-decker? For great stretches of this campaign, the two candidates have appeared to be fighting for bus shapes. I defy you to find a pettier way of arguing about London’s future. Even as someone who uses the capital’s buses every day, I fail to see these red craft as the most pressing issue in London politics. Yet to hear Boris talk, you would think this vehicle represented the cradle of all the city’s hopes and fears – while Ken recently announced he was spending £500,000 to send a double-decker bus on a three-month journey to the Beijing Olympics. Here it will embody London (a giant latex Ken presumably being unavailable).

In any sane world someone would invent a bendy Routemaster, so Ken and Boris could bury their differences and run on a self-defeating joint ticket. You can’t help feeling London would proceed quite nicely without them.

Another Update April 9

There is a design for a new Routemaster but it does not bend. It would carry two wheelchairs and still has the open rear platform

RM 1968 Charing Cross 2007_0224

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Posted in transit

Tagged with

Upcoming Event

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 9:58 am

Posted in bicycles

Japan acts to avert growing crisis in manners

with 9 comments


I have a suggestion for Mr Falcon. If you really want people to feel more comfortable riding on transit, abandon the fare gates idea in favour of hiring grannies to remind people of the need to be polite.

In Yokohama, a port city south of the capital, transport authorities have had enough. From next week a crack squad of “etiquette police” will patrol subway carriages and – politely – ask passengers to give up their seats to elderly, pregnant or disabled passengers.

Members of the Smile-Manner Squadron, most of whom are well over 60, hope to embarrass young miscreants into vacating their seats rather than allow them to nap or, more commonly, to pretend to be asleep, while those in greater need of a rest are left standing.

They could also usefully tell people to stop shouting on their cell phones, and remind them to stand on the right on the escalators. An Idea Whose Time Has Come!

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 9:38 am

Posted in transit

Why the neighbourhood went

with 5 comments

Pete McMartin has a nice commentary piece in today’s Sun which seemed to be about education, or the end of compulsory retirement but ends up being about why we don’t have neighborhoods anymore

This time, however, the whole idea of home has changed for Mom and Dad, and for the child. To Mom And Dad, who have watched the worth of their hovel appreciate beyond all reason, it is no longer the nest but the nest egg, no longer a place to live but an investment, an asset, their retirement fund to be sold for a whopping profit so they can pay off the mortgage and credit card bills and maybe have some left over to travel as their child has.

They can see and feel how that thinking has infected all of their friends and neighbours, and how it has obliterated the idea of neighbourhood itself, because a neighbourhood is made up of homes and families and demands permanency, while a collection of assets owned by investors demands liquidity, and so everywhere they see flippers and quick-hit fixer-uppers and people who move in one month and have a for-sale sign on their lawn two years later.

I recall a quote from one of my planning theory text books – but not who wrote it “In the city everything is connected to everything else” which like most profound statements sounds trite until you think about it.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 8:24 am

Posted in Urban Planning