Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 23rd, 2008

Transit pass a ticket out of welfare

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Jessey Basi

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

The piece he has written describes his research. Which like most social science restates the blindingly obvious. In BC welfare rates are well blow the poverty line. They do not allow anyone enough to find shelter and food. In other words, they cannot afford a transit pass. So all the programs and the requiremnts for welfare recipeints to find work cannot be effective.

If the beneficiary purchases a two-zone round-trip fare to attend a single job interview, that costs $7.50, nearly the entire day’s support allowance. How can anyone manage to live when spending almost 100 per cent of their daily finances on transportation alone?

BC is deliberately ignoring the evidence – and has been for years – that is punitive attitude to welfare recipients is self defeating. The poverty is used as a club to beat the poor – not a system to help people get back opn their feet. The biggest barriers that welfare recipients face to finding a job are not the opportunities, but simple things like daycare and a transit pass. And there are many other places that have abandoned this Victorian attitude and have found more effective and effcient ways of helping people find their place in society again.

This is nothing to do with the transit provider. They should not be expected to deliver social policies. They are simply not equipoped to do that. They have a hard enough job fighting theoir way through the car traffic. This problem should land squarely on the desk of the architect of the problem. Gordon Campbell.

I do not fault Jessey Basi either. But this sort of research should not be necessary. It should have been made redundant by a government willing to acknowledge when its poicies have failed. Yes, you are right Jessey, it DID need to be done. Becuase this is BC. “The Best Place on Earth”. If you are not poor, unemployed, mentally or physically ill or disabled.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 23, 2008 at 3:45 pm

The case for the Gateway is falling apart

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Today’s story in the Vancouver Sun is about the trans pacific airline business. And that is part of both the federal and provincial strategies, and the Airport is one of the key players in the Gateway Council.

The masterminds behind B.C.’s efforts to boost trade with the Asia-Pacific have long identified the need for more airlines offering more seats between Vancouver and Asia’s major cities.

This is still the overarching strategy. But, for the time being, high fuel costs have several carriers publicly — or sometimes discreetly — dropping flights, merging schedules and substituting planes to reduce capacity.

“for the time being” – don’t you just love that? As though somehow a fairy godmother will wave her magic wand and we can be wafted back to the days of cheap oil. You know what? It ain’t gonna happen.

As the CEO of American Airlines said “There was no game plan for $140 oil” – or whatever the three digits were when he said that. And as far as the producers are concerned as long as they can sell what they produce at that price, that’s fine with them.

Newer aircraft are more fuel efficient than they were in the past, and just flying a little slower, carryng less fresh water and only one set of pilot manuals are all being tried to cut the bills. But there is no sparkling new technology just around the corner to transform the business. And as the airlines shrink so do lots of other businesses.

My prediction is that the airlines will retreat from the mass market, and return to the days when they were an expensive luxury. They will pull out of the short distance markets too as more fuel efficient modes are already there in many parts of the world, and will be here before long, once the North American railways get their act together.

Unlike the Port of Vancouver, YVR has deferred its expansion until it was sure there was a market. So there is less of the overbuilding we are seeing at Roberts Bank. But even so, times will be tough, and other major international airports along the west coast are not going to sit idly by either.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Gateway

Two new additions to the blogroll this morning

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Thanks to Al (The Bokashiman) Pasternak there is a new link on the blogroll this morning to Public Transit in Vancouvera bog about “the trials and tribulations of public transit in BC’s Lower Mainland”. It deals with the more detailed operational side – a new bus route on 16th Avenue in Vancouver, the relocation of a bus stop in Surrey – but it is also the place I learned about Drew Sinder’s new blog. Vancouver On The Lines is said to be “Notes, observations and occasional rebuttals from the TransLink Media Relations types.” Since it started on June 9 only four posts have appeared, all by Drew Snider.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 23, 2008 at 7:12 am

Posted in transit