Stephen Rees's blog

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

“As far as transit issues are concerned, it’s been a ‘zero campaign'”

with 7 comments

“I haven’t heard a thing from anyone except (NDP leader Jack) Layton,” said Jean Léveillé of the transit users lobby group Transport 2000 Québec, “And even then it’s money pointed at public transit but nothing specific. … I haven’t heard anything from anyone (in the campaign) about investing in public transportation, whether to reduce pollution from automobiles or make thing easier for people living in cities.

“In that regard it’s been a zero campaign.”

This is in the Montreal Gazette – another in the stable – this morning. As I noted in my review of the leaders’ debate transit has not yet received any attention – and a promise deep in the NDP play book does not count for much. Getting people out of cars and on to transit is one of the easier and more effective ways of cutting transport emissions. It also makes urban regions more liveable, and allows for a more sustainable development pattern. Yet Canada does not have a national transit programme – whereas most advanced countries have had them for years. It is one thing to say you care about the environment, it is quite another to do something effective. And so far programmes that have supported emission reductions have been totally ineffective or even perverse. Much more gets spent on hydrogen or ethanol – and lately even biodiesel – and none of these programmes has done anything worthwhile.  The same sums devoted to doing something less “cutting edge and innovative” like buying more buses woudl have had much more impact. Indeed, in this region, the sharp peak in gasoline prices produced much less than other places simply because we do not have the transit capacity to absorb more riders at peak periods. And transit spending is one of those “no regrets” programmes becuase it makes so much sense from all sorts of perspectives including cutting traffic congestion and improving road safety. You do not have to be an environementalist to appreciate that transit is a very good use of public funds with benefits that are readily measurable.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 7, 2008 at 10:14 am

Posted in politics, transit

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. And even when a politico mentions public transport, they use the nebulous ‘rapid transit’ term. What is rapid transit?

    “Oh, yes we support rapid transit” or “We have invested in rapid transit”, yet in real terms, both statements, like the capacity nonsense, really don’t mean a thing.

    Has any politician come out and said, ” I support affordable rail options” or “good public transport must take the customer (customer is a very good term) from where he lives to where he wants to go quickly and economically? I’m still waiting.

    How many politicians know what BRT or rapid-bus is? Guided bus? Bus-ways? Do they know the difference between a streetcar or LRT? (Hint – it has very little to do about the vehicle) Do they understand the reason why cities build metros like SkyTrain?

    I doubt it, yet these are the very same people who will spend the taxpayers dollars on transit or should I say, waste taxpayers money on transit.

    Malcolm J.

    October 7, 2008 at 11:52 am

  2. I seem to recall Elizabeth May speaking of supporting transit in her interview with Peter Mansbridge on CBC Newsworld about two weeks ago. Also check out the Green Party’s platform: I’d be interested in hearing what you think of it.


    October 7, 2008 at 12:17 pm

  3. At least TransLink’s board isn’t now full of such politicians.

    Ron C.

    October 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm

  4. The TransLink Board is worse than ever, no one has a clue about transit, no public oversight, no experience, it is truly a ‘Ship of fools’!

    Malcolm J.

    October 7, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  5. VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Oct 07, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) — New Democrat leader Jack Layton and Michael Byers, the New Democrat candidate for Vancouver Centre, brought the federal election campaign to the Burrard SkyTrain station this morning. Accompanied by an enthusiastic group of volunteers they handed out leaflets and talked to commuters.
    Earlier in the campaign, Layton unveiled the New Democrats’ platform, which includes urgently-needed support for transit. New Democrats will dedicate one cent per litre of the federal gas tax to public transit. Transit will also receive support from revenue generated by the New Democrats’ cap-and-trade plan.
    “For Vancouver, that investment is the equivalent of purchasing 62 new SkyTrain cars, or 360 new energy efficient hybrid buses” said Layton.

    Stephen Rees

    October 8, 2008 at 8:45 am

  6. I agree with Marja-Leena, the Green Party has the most extensive transit policy of all the parties. My estimation of them went up several notches after perusing their web site, though they would still need to build up experience in parliament, especially in dealing with real budgets, and a certain comfort level with the public.

    As Stephen pointed out, the NDP also has some good ideas about transit funding (and housing too). The Liberals are quite general in their written comments on transit, but at least it comes up in Dion’s speeches and in critiques on Harper’s policies. It’s on their radar.

    This, and the fact the conservatives are now falling in the polls in Ontario and Quebec, are all the more reason to encourage a coalition of the centre-left should their collective seat count justify it after next week’s vote.


    October 8, 2008 at 11:52 am

  7. I can’t interpret much from Layton’s quote.
    One cent per litre – is the allocation of these funds based on gas purchased in BC? i.e. is the money allocated on a proportional basis based on gas use (i.e. money raised) in each province, or based on population (notwithstanding urbanization patterns)?
    When he says “For Vancouver, that investment is equivalent to…” does he mean BC’s share of the federal gas tax would be equivalent to… or does he mean the entire amount of the federal gas tax nation-wide applied only to [Vancouver] would be equivalent to… Also, is he suggesting applying funds raised across the Province to just Vancouver?

    Ron C.

    October 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: