Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for October 12th, 2008

Climate author goes political

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Scientist endorses Dion to deal with ‘the defining problem for humanity’

Nicholas Read, Canwest News Service

Published: Sunday, October 12, 2008

Keeping Our Cool
By Andrew Weaver
Penguin Canada, $34

It was pure chance that University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver’s new book on global warming came out during a federal election campaign. But since it has, he’s taking an extraordinary step for a scientist and declaring, point-blank how he thinks people should vote. “Vote for (Liberal Party Leader) Stéphane Dion; don’t vote for the Green Party,” Weaver said in an interview promoting Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

“If the Green Party has a strong candidate who’s going to beat out the Liberal and Conservative candidates, then, OK, go ahead and vote Green. But, by and large, a green vote is not a Green vote. A green vote is for a Liberal government and Stéphane Dion. There is no other candidate you can vote for.”

This, you will understand is far from usual. Scientists do not as a rule make public political statements and certianly not during an election when it is  obviously a partisan issue. But then Stephen Harper has targetted sceintists and science itself. Both he and W talk regularly to God so they are absolutely certain they are right.

I have already voted Green, but if you are dithering, take a look at the rest of the article

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Environment, politics

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Gateway takes a beating at forum

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Delta Optimist

The forum in question was the all candidates meeting in Delta. So at least the people running for election to the federal government are actually listening to what people are saying.

[Conservative MP John] Cummins said the environmental assessment for the third berth at Deltaport was skewed because the port authority said there were no plans for a second container terminal.

“That was simply wrong,” the veteran MP said. “It was the wrong thing for the port to do and we didn’t like the results.”

But environmental assessments in BC cannot stop a project no matter how stupid it is or how bad its impact. All that can be done is to extract some expectation of mitigation. Although, as we have seen, that does not mean any will actually happen (see my recent post on gravel extraction) or will be additional to what is already being done (PM2/H1).

Cummins simply said the extra berths are not needed.

“There is no economic justification for port expansion at this time,” he said.

Both Barna and Miller also said that they don’t support a second container port.

So somebody has been listening. Good. Now how long will it take for the geniuses at Port Metro Vancouver and the BC MoT to wake up and smell the coffee? If there is no justification for port expansion, there goes the case made for the Gateway.

And the amazing thing is that I think Kevin may be realising this too. I have not been able to source the comment on line but apparently he said at the opening of the Central Valley Greenway that we need the Gateway now as a boost to our local economy in tough times. Which means that all of a sudden he has become a Keynesian. In fact, all the mega projects done here in recent years have a very low local multiplier, because most of the spending goes elsewhere. We have to be bring in the expertise, technology, equipment and labour from other places. In fact the big news stories recently about the cancellation of the water tunnel on the North Shore and a contractor on the Golden Ears going broke was because we had to bail out the unfortunate “guest workers” left without any wages.

If you are on facebook check out Joe Foy’s videos – he has the recent tv news version of how the credit crunch will hot the Gateway. Put simply, the banks will not lend. That means that huge new P3 projects cannot be financed. And despite a trillion dollars of government (i.e. US Taxpayer’s) money they are still not inclined to lend – even to each other.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Gateway

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Transport for London gets tougher on fare dodgers

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News shopper online

Bedny Bus at Waterloo Station - my photo

Bendy Bus at Waterloo Station - my photo

The London Underground is, of course, entirely gated with the latest technology. Buses have become a bit more vulnerable, since to speed boarding they use all doors at all stops. At least for the “bendy buses” in Central London. There are ticket machines at all these stops, and Oyster touch pads at each door on the bus. But even so it is thought that bus fare evasion has risen.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Fare evasion costs Londoners £70 million a year, which is money that belongs to all Londoners that should be invested in making the transport network better.

“We are investing record amounts in renewing the network, and it is only fair that those who travel on the Tube or bus pay their way.

“These changes to penalty fares will provide a greater deterrent to those who would otherwise try to short-change Londoners.”

Boris is, of course, a Conservative: so he is idealogically inclined to stiffer punishments. In fact the size of the penalty is not nearly so important as the perception of the probability of being caught. There is nothing in this short piece about increasing enforcement activity. And for £70m it might be worthwhile. Penalty fares are much easier to collect than fines, and the revenue flows to TfL not the courts.  But in a £2.5bn revenue stream a 2.8% loss is not that big of a deal. (That rate is lower than estimates of fare evasion here of course.)

But the impression that Kevin Falcon likes to give is that putting gates on SkyTrain stations will end fare evasion, and what this story shows is that it won’t. The figures we have do not justify installing gates even if it did, but at halving fare loss, they will never pay for themselves, let alone the additional staff and operating costs.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2008 at 8:56 am

Posted in transit

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