Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for May 17th, 2008

Wis. man won’t buy gas for 31 days, maybe longer

with 2 comments

Seattle PI

If that had read “Area man won’t …” it would have been the The Onion. I did check to make sure. Now will someone please work out how this is news?

“I think just with the gas prices being so high, everybody complains about it but no one ever really does anything about it,” LaFave said.

Well I suppose in Sheboygan that might even be true. Though not so long ago it did have a really good electric interurban service.

He is actually not that unusual. Gas sales are down, bike sales are up, and so is transit ridership – nearly everywhere (except Metro Vancouver, of course, where the transit system is so jammed the ads on transit try to persuade transit riders to car pool).

I hope he sticks with it, as a 9 mile ride is a good workout and after a while he will not “feel like he’s gonna die” but will start enjoying the ride, get to work feeling energised, and probably start looking and feeling a lot better. Indeed after 31 days he might even think about trading in his pick up truck. And if Brian LaFave of Sheboygan can do it …

Written by Stephen Rees

May 17, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Posted in bicycles, energy

California High Speed Rail

with 12 comments

gas 2.0 is reporting

the California High-Speed Rail Authority. After getting a green light by State environmental impact assessors, they’ve begun implementation of an 800-mile bullet-train system that will connect Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego. Trains traveling at 220 mph on the systems are forecast to carry up to 100 million passengers per year by 2030.

And that is where I got this image from. The site is worth visiting for the huge number of images and videos available for download alone.

Of course, California does take EAs seriously – unlike BC which has reduced the process to a sick joke. And the funding still has to get through a bond measure on the November ballot. But that is also a process I approve of. Actual democracy at work: trusting the people, and allowing them a say in how their tax dollars are spent. Again in very sharp contrast to the way we get told what we are going to be taxed for, whether we approve of it or not.

And I also like the fact that it is an electric train with a very clear association with wind power. BC of course has recently ripped up its only main line electrification and had the locomotives scrapped.

Given where we are now and where the future will be, California’s investment in this mode looks a lot more sensible than its hydrogen highway (which, I suspect, will be left to just wither on the vine) – or BC’s obsession with widening freeways.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 17, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Railway

Tagged with ,

Liberals reap discontent in Delta South

with one comment

Vaughan Palmer gets around to last week’s protest, and reruns bits from the Delta Optimist as well as the last provincial election there which Vicki Huntington nearly won. In fact the Liberals got elected in this seat on a minority vote. Which in a fair system would mean they lost.

He also manages to tie it to more than the power lines, which means he is at least more perceptive than his colleagues on the other CanWest paper that publishes on Sunday.

I rather wish he had spent as bit more time on the substantive issues. There is a lot more at stake here than a seat in provincial leg. But then that is his beat, so I suppose the fact that it gets raised at all in an opinion piece in what has been the BC Liberal’s mouthpiece news monopoly is something worth noting.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 17, 2008 at 7:06 am

Posted in Transportation

Transit police deputy chief says Taser policy changed as result of usage

with 3 comments

Canadian Press

The evidence given yesterday to the Braidwood Inquiry by Metro Vancouver transit police force deputy chief Ken Allen confirms that fare evaders were being tasered. The language in the instructions issued to officers has now been changed from “non-compliant” to “actively resistant.”

“The concern was that non-compliant could be construed to mean non-payment of fares by the public.”

Allen was not asked to explain what the term “actively resistant” means.

That seems to confirm earlier suggestions that some “noncompliant” passengers were either tasered or threatened with a taser. This is completely unacceptable. There is an ongoing enquiry into taser use on transit but that of course is being conducted by another police force.

There are plenty of places in North America that use the proof of payment fare system. None of them use armed police to check fares. At least part of the problem has been the grossly unrealistic estimations of fare evasion used by critics of proof of payment based on no evidence of any kind. And sadly that perception has been bolstered by the Minister of Transport and the former Chair of Translink, Malcom Brodie. Moreover, the only reason that SkyTrain needs a police force is that it crosses too many police jurisdictions to be effectively policed by local forces. There are many good reasons why Greater Vancouver should have a Metropolitan Police Force, most of which are far more compelling than the need to police SkyTrain.

We also need to look at the role the media has played in creating the urban legends that surround crime and SkyTrain, which has lead to a situation where  dangerous over reaction – armed police checking tickets – seems to be accepted as necessary.

It is to be expected that as a result of the Braidwood enquiry much tougher rules will be imposed on police, who have been far too ready to use a taser first and ask questions afterwards. Armed police deal with situations differently than unarmed police. It might also be worthwhile for Translink to review what police are expected to do on the system. Ticket checking should be done by SkyTrain staff – and police should only be called to deal with situations which call for a police presence. Someone arguing about the validity of a ticket is not such a situation.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 17, 2008 at 6:54 am

Posted in transit

Tagged with ,