Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for May 1st, 2008

Why so many say “Transit Sucks”

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WCE 902 Vancouver BC 2005_0620

I am going to Abbotsford City Hall this evening. I have been invited to take part in the InterRegional Transportation Select Committee. I have never used West Coast Express, or had reason to, but this looked like an opportunity. Of course it would mean an overnight stay in Abbotsford but I think I could probably afford that.

I tried using Translink’s trip planner but that does not recognise any destination outside the Translink servcie area – but it will get me to Mission Station by 1803. I have also discovered by using the BC Transit web page that Central Fraser Valley Transit operates a “Valley Connector” that meets WCE trains and train buses. Of course there is no information about this service on the WCE web page. And I would need somewhere to stay either within walking distance of City Hall or use a taxi, I suppose. I am assuming that once in Abbotsford the distance between the Valley Connector route to City Hall would be walkable – but then I have also to check into the place where I might stay.

Anyway door to door looks like a little over three hours, and the return tomorrow would be on a “train bus” unless I could find a B&B that serves really early breakfast – not that I like eating very much at the time I would need to. From my on line researches I cannot find a reasonably priced B&B anywhere near City Hall. And the fare $14.75 each way, plus whatever the room and taxis would cost. I am not wildy keen on long distance buses – and I would have to leave about now and not get back until noon tomorrow.

Frankly the prospect appalls.

It is not that I expect a direct door to door service, but a place like Abbotsford, home to an international airport after all, should, I think, be better connected to the major metropolitan region it abuts. And I should be able to get downtown easily to catch a train there. Not have to transfer at Richmond Centre (the direct bus on Garden City does not pick up passengers on its way back into town).

One of the people who spoke last night at the Word Press camp, Bruce Byfield has his thoughts on transit on line too. You might find them enlightening. And some more here from Jeanette Winterson specifically about trying to use a train, in Britain, on a Sunday.

I did a search before I started writing this, and found nothing – but I have that deja vu feeling. Did I write this already?

UPDATE I left Abottsford last night at 9pm and was home at 10

Written by Stephen Rees

May 1, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Transportation

Blogging about “blogging training”

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Someone wrote to me requesting permission to use my blog in “training video” that is being made. So far as I know it is not being made for WordPress’s maker Automattic – the person who contacted me would not say who was paying for it. But they expect to sell it and make a profit of course. They were not willing to pay for the video rights however. They expected bloggers to give that to them for free.

WordPress is Open Source. is free. I find the very thought of someone making money by selling completely unnecessary “training videos” offensive. I think anyone buying one is a sucker. For the system is easy to use and to learn, there is a lot of community support as well as really helpful free on line information. People like Miss604 give away advice (on video) on how to blog and how to do things with WordPress. There was a free WordPress camp yesterday evening – which even had free drinks afterwards for those who did not have to drive home.

Since you read this blog, you may want to consider starting your own. Trust me. It is easy. You can pick up how to do it as you go along. You do not need a training video and you certainly do not need to pay for one.

Tazzu WordPress Camp

Written by Stephen Rees

May 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Posted in blogging

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Ethanol to get green light

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Conservatives, Liberals say they’re not concerned about food-based biofuel

“We have energy security and we have the environment and they’re both important priorities,” said Environment Minister John Baird in an interview. “We obviously cannot continue to depend on foreign oil (when) you look at the prices.”

But as Environment Minister you are not supposed to be concerned about those things – that falls to other departments. And this is the same government that was, in the last few days, beating its chest in Washington about the size of our oil reserves. “Second only to Saudi Arabia” said Mr Harper.

If we “depend on foreign oil” it is very silly to import it at higher costs than we can produce it ourselves – isn’t it? Or is it that the shameful environmental record of the tar sands has some resonance in your Ministry? No – that seems unlikely to me.

Note as well the reuse of the current buzz word “simplistic”. There is a shortage of food. Grain prices are at record highs. The US has an increasing requirement of corn for ethanol to the extent that corn for food use is declining in supply, and at the same time farmers are switching away from soy beans and other crops. Yes there are other factors – the greed of speculators being a large influence – but the driving force is the US appetite for motor fuel, and the increasing number of vehicle miles and the huge size of the vehicles they use to drive themselves around. And the way that ethanol is promoted by self interest groups as “green”.

I have no doubt at all that I will start seeing petition and letter writing requests in my inbox within hours.

UPDATE Friday May 2 – two more significant stories to day in the Sun – including this gem

Almost $3 billion in federal and provincial grants, subsidies and incentives is providing the fertilizer.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 1, 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in energy

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