Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 19th, 2008

From freeway to feeway: Road congestion and tolls

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Pete Wightman in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun

Pete Wightman is a graduate of the master’s degree program in public policy at Simon Fraser University.

In research on Metro Vancouver’s road congestion, I investigated whether pricing structures could reduce congestion and queuing in our most gridlocked areas.

By applying market mechanisms to the George Massey Tunnel and Alex Fraser, Pattullo and Port Mann bridges, I found that we can all waste less time in traffic and have more efficient roads.

It is well written and well thought out article. I will bet the the research document is worth looking for too, if you have time. I am  sorry that my recent relocation has reduced the amount of time I have available for this blog, so I missed this yesterday.

Of course, most people, including Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell know for a certianty that this would not work here, just as they know that barriers on SkyTrain will work. Having really thorough and objective research based on actual facts is not good enough to sway either argument – but nice try and I hope Mr Wightman does not become as cy niccal as the rest of us about public policy making.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 19, 2008 at 11:18 am

Posted in congestion, Economics

Tagged with

Metro Vancouver’s next Car Free festival

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From Andrew Feltham

Sunday June 22nd in New Westminster (Sapperton). Easy to get to by bike or transit (SkyTrain). They don’t call it a Car Free Festival, but there’s no traffic on East Columbia all day. Something to celebrate!

Includes lots of cycling related activities as well with the Cap’s Bike Zone. In particular the only pennyfarthing race I know of in these parts…

Its another opportunity to demonstrate the viability of car-free streets.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 19, 2008 at 11:04 am

Posted in car free day

Naomi Klein speaking in Vancouver this evening

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6 – 10 p.m. PUBLIC SPEAKING EVENT: Naomi Klein

General Public Event – Everyone Welcome
Maritime Labour Center, 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver, BC Doors Open at 6 p.m.

More about the Shock Doctrine:

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world– through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves.. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater.. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened.. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas though our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 19, 2008 at 11:01 am

Posted in politics

The “Gateway to What?” Party

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This free outdoor party (featuring stay dry even if it rains planning) will be at the lush property of Brad Major at 11059 River Road. Brad is a south Delta fire fighter and environmental scientist whose historic fishing home would be paved over by the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) if allowed to proceed.

We will be arranging for a bus to take folks that live in Vancouver out to join with the locals at Brads house. The bus will be leaving Commercial Drive at around 8:30 pm (contact Ben at to make arrangements). We will have a couple automobiles shuttling people back to vancouver along with the bus so you can leave early or stay late.

Featuring the too funky not to dance rhythms of DJ Corrior, DJ Bad and DJ Andabeat. Will be lots of fun!

There will be some food and drinks (wine and beer) available by donation.

The party will also include (amongst other things) a presentation of the Mexican wrestling/ theatrical performance “The Gateway Struggle” which debuted at the Car Free Vancouver festival.

A great opportunity to get together with friends and to meet other people concerned about the Gateway project. It’s all going down on the night of the solstice. Celebrate a turning point in the struggle to oppose the Gateway Project and protect the livable region strategy.

For more on Brads story and to see the location of the party check out this youtube video:


On Tuesday June 24 from 6pm till 9pm at the Bridgeview Community Centre (11475 126A St – close to Scott Road Skytrain station ) we will be co-hosting the first in our series of Real Consultation Meetings.Given the lack of true meaningful consultations with the minister of the environment, the minister of transportation or the premier we have decided to partner with concerned community groups to provide a real opportunity to make sure community members voices are heard. The Ministers and Premier will be invited but just in case they don’t show up we will be video taping peoples comments and questions, posting them on youtube and sending the links directly to the decision makers.

This will be a family friendly event featuring a bbq, an encore presentation of “The Gateway Struggle” a theatrical performace/mexican wrestling bonanza and other fun and surprises.

For more on the gateway project and the SFPR visit

Ben West | Healthy Communities Campaigner
Wilderness Committee | Canada’s largest membership-based wilderness preservation organization
w: 604-683-8220 | c: 604-710-5340 |

Written by Stephen Rees

June 19, 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Gateway

Edmonton to scrap their trolleybus system

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Edmonton Sun

Photo by Michael Marriott (etbmike101 on flickr)

Photo by Michael Marriott

Translink bus on lease to Edmonton

Apparently Vancouver leasing them one of the nice new trolleybuses was not enough to convince them.

Some of the comments show how irrational and poorly informed decision makers can be. There is a deal of suspicion about the ETS estimate of how much extra buying new trolleys would be

Coun. Don Iveson, who voted to keep the trolleys, said he didn’t believe replacing the vehicles with hybrid buses would save $100 million – a figure touted by city administration.

So where is the supporting information?

By 2010, the cost of a new trolley bus is estimated to hit $950,000, while a hybrid will come with a price tag of $650,000 and a clean diesel will ring in at $425,000.

First off why look at prices in 2010 – you are buying them now – though they may not be delivered for two years. And since New Flyer would be doing a run on from the Vancouver order, their costs should be lower. And the 18 years given for trolley life is not at all what we have seen in service. The current Edmonton fleet is much older – as was the retired E902 fleet in Vancouver.

47 times $300k still leaves around $86 million unaccounted for and the life cycle cost of a trolley will be quite a bit different based on cheaper maintenance and lower energy cost. So maybe they decided to add in the cost of a complete replacement of the overhead. That was the technique used in both Toronto and Hamilton, when an official in the MTO was determined to force a switch to natural gas, which was less than a success. The operating entities simply neglected to maintain the overhead and watched it deteriorate to back the withdrawal decision.

Coun. Tony Caterina said it didn’t make sense to sink that kind of money into a type of vehicle that makes up only 3% of the transit fleet. Most people he’s talked to don’t like the system anyway, he said.

“They don’t like them, can’t stand them and would rather see open skies than the canopy (of wires) above.”

The percentage of the fleet is not what matters – its is the question of whether the choice of electricity is more sustainable in the long term than diesel. And the LRT has overhead wires too. Does that mean Edmonton is going to tackle its festoons of power, telephone and tv cable along every street?

Bob Boutilier, the city’s manager of transportation, warned putting money in trolleys would mean less cash for LRT.

So Canada’s richest province is still intent on stiffing city transit systems? Why not put the blame where it really lies. The Alberta Tories hate spending tax dollars on public works – even when it is essential to prop up their favourite project. The roads to the oil patch have been grossly inadequate for years- but the province of Alberta would rather pay off their debt and then give tax payers their own money back than invest wisely in the future.

Hybrids are a good solution if you have not got the world’s longest extension cord already strung over your streets. But if you look after the overhead, and all electric bus has some significant advantages. For one thing it does not carry the weight of an engine and fuel and can both pull as much power as it needs when accelerating or climbing, but can put power back when braking. And electricity can be generated all kinds of ways. In a world of rising oil prices that alone should catch their attention. There is of course no mention in this story of ghg or local air pollution.

The fact that most other North American cities got rid of their trolleys does not mean that they were wise or far sighted when they did so. But if you had stood up then before those city councils and talked about oil at $150 a barrel and vanishing glaciers, you would have been laughed out of the room.

But Edmonton Council knows about those things – or perhaps it needs a reminder – send it by web form here

Written by Stephen Rees

June 19, 2008 at 9:06 am

Posted in Environment, transit