Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for October 31st, 2008

Group wants interurban back on track

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Quite a decent piece on Rail for the Valley. John Buker has apparently decided to get in ahead of Monday’s Abbotsford Council meeting which I wrote about earlier. The idea of a demonstration poroject is the one that seemed to get most response at public meetings in both Abbotsford and Chilliwack. But it seemed to get less response from the Interegional Transportation committee and therefore is not the main plank of their report.

One of the things that I tried to stress was that is is feasible for this to happen without expecting a lot of money from the province. It would need a partnership with the current freight operator (owned by the Washington Group) and one of the companies that operate passenger trains. It would almost certainly be a limited time temporary thing, but it would meet the objection of the sceptics “I’m from Missouri, show me”.

Rail can capture people’s imagination, but a demonstration would be a practical way to allow people to experience what is possible and at relatively low cost. In my view this is more likely to actually lead to a real service in the near future – and much mire likely than any report or plan to shift attentiion away from freeway expansion to a much more efficient mode – and one that can be implemented in a shirt time scale. It would also increase choice – something that is notably missing now and in the current plans.

Ken Hardie’s response stressing the north of the Fraser and the suggestion that West Coast Express could get to Chilliwack seems to miss the point completely. Chilliwack has very little long distance commuting since it took the idea of a complete community seriously and is relatively self contained. The growth of the valley population will be mainly in the south – Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford – where there are no real current plans to do more than small increases to bus service. This is not nearly enough to meet present needs let alone the expected growth, which will all be highway oriented absent any other alternative. It is also clear that the current FVRD councils have no interest at all in getting swallowed up in SoCoBriTCA. No is there any expectation that Kevin Falcon is actually listening to what people in this part of BC are saying. They do not want SkyTrain – which in current plans is too little, too late and at huge cost. They want a lot of rail now and at low cost!

Written by Stephen Rees

October 31, 2008 at 8:39 am

Posted in transit, Urban Planning

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Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown

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Daily Telegraph

On the ferry yesterday I decided to try out the $10 “quiet area”. That fee includes tea, coffee and newspapers, so for the first time in a while I read the dead tree version of the Sun. In the print edition a lot is content from other papers that you do not see in the on line edition. Like this story, which expanded my knowledge of what is going on in the world, and in particular why the US dollar has been getting stronger despite their financial crisis. I had thought bad mortgages and asset backed paper was a mainly US issue. What I did not know is that exposure to bad debts (mostly loans to other countries in Asia and South America) has created a much bigger crisis in Europe.

The latest data from the Bank for International Settlements shows that Western European banks hold almost all the exposure to the emerging market bubble, now busting with spectacular effect.

They account for three-quarters of the total $4.7 trillion £2.96 trillion) in cross-border bank loans to Eastern Europe, Latin America and emerging Asia extended during the global credit boom – a sum that vastly exceeds the scale of both the US sub-prime and Alt-A debacles.

No I don’t know what “Alt-A debacle” means: probably some computer glitch that got missed by the Telegraph’s subs.

It is also my impression that the version I read in the dead tree edition was much longer than this on line version, because I thought the  analysis on the impact on China would be relevant to update other things that I have been writing. And, of course, there was none of the huge number of on line comments.

Anyway, just in case you missed this too, I think this is a useful heads up.

And, if you think $10 buys you peace and quiet on a ferry, think again. Despite being nearly empty, and lots of notices about respecting others need for quiet, the cell phone yackers and the loud personal conversations were much worse there than in the adjacent no charge seating area I had to cross to get to the washroom.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 31, 2008 at 8:09 am

Posted in Economics