Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for August 1st, 2008

Friday wrap up

with 14 comments

There are a whole host of stories this morning, but none of them seem worthy of more than a passing comment.

The Sea to Sky closure was, of course, predictable, in the sense that it seemed very likely that something like that would happen sooner or later. Vaughan Palmer’s opinion piece yesterday looked at the decision making process, but made the odd reference “High-speed rail would be expensive” – which is quite misleading. High speed rail was not examined. The rail options which were looked at were all very cheap indeed, so the government insisted on a rail tunnel across the Burrard Inlet as well, in order to make it look too expensive. There were many other possible ways of doing it without a tunnel of course. And a railway up the Pitt Valley was one of the cheaper options, actually, and was costed as a student exercise a few years ago. This was long before the furore over private power projects.

The Patullo replacement decision was also quite predictable. Translink is effectively boxed in by provincial policy. The only way to pay for a new bridge is a toll, and there is no way to pay for the same size of figure for a shorter lived upgrade. The province knew all this when it downloaded the bridge. In fact the province’s cynicism was only too apparent. The downloaded bridges were all known to be in trouble – Kinght Street, Patullo and Westham Island. At least the first two have some regional role. Why Westham Island bridge was not just downloaded to Delta I do not know. The interesting admission is that the lcoation of the Patullo replacement depends on the alignments of the North and South Fraser Perimeter Roads – both provincial projects and part of the Gateway. Except of course both only serve regional traffic and have very limited provincial significance. What is needed of course is a regional multi-modal transportation strategy that would also address the need to replace the adjacent New Westminster railway swing bridge. Don’t expect to hear much about that.

A toll on the Patullo also means that the Province now has a problem. There was supposed to be a toll free alternative to the Port Mann – now there won’t be. It could mean that finally talks start on a regional road pricing strategy but obviously that will have to wait until after the election. Expect lots of fudging before then.

GM has declared another record breaking loss last quarter and the head of BA says more airlines will go bust.  This just reinforces what has been said here more than once. Of course, that does not mean that BA also want to give up on the Heathrow third runway – even though proposals for the next high speed rail line in Briatin would include a station at the airport to help the railways pick up transferring passnegrs for Europe, where the railways and airlines are working together to shift more short haul traffic from air to rail as it is is much cheaper and more environmentally sustainable.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 1, 2008 at 9:54 am