Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for July 27th, 2008

New Seattle-Vancouver train delayed by CBSA cash grab?

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Transport 2000 in Ottawa puts out a web based news service and the following story is copied entire

I have nothing further to add

According to Jon Calon, Transport 2000 Western Newsletter editor: “It is a sad thing” the (passing) siding near Colebrook Road that was paid for out of funding from the government (and) has been installed quite some time ago … still does not host the second Seattle – Vancouver Amtrak train.”

This week Vickie Sheehan of Washington DoT, the train’s sponsor, told Transport 2000: “At this time we do not have a firm date on the start of the second train service to Vancouver, BC. We are still awaiting clearance from the CANADIAN BORDER SECURITY AGENCY (emphasis added) and until this issue is resolved, our second train service is delayed”.

Further probing led to the discovery that the CBSA views the second train as a “new facility” and demands to be paid for screening its passengers. Pearson and Vancouver International Airports are grandfathered, new flights (facilities) attract no new bills. The treatment of the second Amtrak train is a case of modal discrimination with the State of Washington being held up to ransom. The rumour is CBSA wants $1,500 a day!

Written by Stephen Rees

July 27, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with ,

Independent Power Production

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Hat tip to Gudrun Langolf for the link

The experience of Squamish Valley residents and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District are instructive for those who think that the provincial policy of promoting “green” power through private sector investments is a step forwards.

There has been of course a lot of public concern – especially when Gordon Campbell decided that local government would have no ability at all to influence any of the decision making. And many people have been suggesting that there is more than a hint of undue eagerness to meet a corporate agenda, with the environmental benefits of run of the river hydro looking as though they come at a very high environmental cost. While the provincial government has promised much, BC residents how ho longer believe in anything the government says or puts out in its press releases. And the Squamish valley experience shows that they are right in this attitude.

What needs to be borne in mind too is that the “heartlands” (a word that seems to have fallen out of use recently) were supposed to be the key to BC Liberal electoral success. With the collapse of forestry and the closure of most of BC’s timber processing facilities, the US economic slump has hit the heartlands hard. But there is no sign of anything much being done – other than record breaking sales of gas leases. One of BC’s longest standing economic policies was to have power at near cost – and our big hydro dams provided lots of cheap power offsetting some of the huge environmental destruction caused by their construction. But this new power is for export and that for private profit, not public benefits. Locally or provincially.

Gordon Campbell will be reminded soon that corporations do not have votes.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 27, 2008 at 10:44 am

Posted in energy, politics

Transport Canada rules finish off electric car

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Vancouver Sun

After years of dithering, Transport Canada has now reversed its earlier decisions and has refused to certify electric low speed vehicles as safe for the road.

The timing is appalling. Canada now has an international reputation second only to the US at holding up progress towards a new greenhouse gas emissions treaty. While oil is slightly cheaper now than a few weeks ago, most observers agree that this is a temporary respite. The market demand for vehicles which meet basic daily needs but are cheap to operate and do not produce any emissions has never been stronger.

Other electric vehicles are going to come on to the market in the near future, but Canada’s lead has been thrown away by a mixture of bureaucratic ineptitude and political failure. Of course low speed electric vehicles are only a part of the solution. But right now our lack of progress in tackling one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas is frightening, and anything that promises some progress should be encouraged.

Indeed, in the great oil crunch of the 1970s, the first response of governments was to impose lower speed limits – just to conserve gas. The fact that it also reduced air pollution and saved many lives was simply incidental. BC, of course, refuses to even consider any kind of effective speed limit enforcement even though it is clear that is essential to reduce the death toll on the Patullo Bridge – and no doubt many other locations where the current policy is to widen and straighten roads – which simply encourages higher speeds.

in Canada, the federal government and the provinces are taking a very conservative approach. That recently caught the eye of the British magazine the Economist, which wryly noted: “In these times of high gas prices and worries about climate change, you might think that any country would be proud to enjoy a lead in manufacturing electric cars.

“Not Canada, it seems.”

Would that be a variation on the old British saw, “No innovation, please, we’re Canadian”?

Written by Stephen Rees

July 27, 2008 at 10:25 am

Posted in Transportation