Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for November 9th, 2008

It takes a village to raise a panic

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Pete McMartin did a really good job for the NPA yesterday in deflating the rhetoric around the proposed loan for the Olympic Village. Because, of course, all that is really going on is an election and Vision needed a story to deflect attention from the shock and  horror of Gregor Robertson’s SkyTrain ticket. Which was also not the end of civilisation as we know it, but a rather tawdry stunt by NPA supporters.

So in terms of election coverage I think both parties came out even, but I imagine the only impact any of this made is to increase (if that is possible) the level of cynicism about local politics. Neither story will have changed the minds of committed voters, and the turn out I expect will be as dismal as usual – or maybe worse.

COPE’s effort to get noticed – the free bus service I told you about on Friday – seems to have been ignored so far. At least by the Asper conglomerate. Dave Fields tells me that people yesterday using the service received it quite well.  I expect a lot of them already had transfers and passes in their pockets but “free” does get noticed.

Free Bus

Free Bus

Written by Stephen Rees

November 9, 2008 at 9:52 am

Posted in politics

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London underground cars become creative space

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I saw this story on CBC Newsworld last night and I bet the CBC’s Nancy originally picked up the story from Spacing Toronto which is where the pic comes from.

Old tube trains in Shoreditch

Old tube trains in Shoreditch

Or rather the picture is on flickr and is creditted to TreeHugger but there is also, of course a website for the project. From which I copied this

Village Underground is socially driven, a charitable organisation and environmentally conscious. Commercial uses directly support the production of new creative work and emerging cultural practitioners. This essential balance allows us to act as a stage – facilitating a vibrant and diverse cross section of creative endeavour, cultural hybrid and artistic collaboration.

Now my first reaction to this image was “But those are new cars” which is just me betraying my age. Any underground train that has been introduced during my lifetime seems new to me, since when I started using it some of the cars were then well over 40 years old, and clearly betrayed the American origins of their first owners. Because the London Underground was financed in the early 1900s by Charles Tyson Yerkes of Chicago – which is also why they are still called “cars” in the American style and not carriages.

But London’s Undergound is never referred to as a “subway” (which is what Spacing Toronto does) – which is what the English call the short passages constructed to take pedestrains underneath the road to cross the street.

The dimensions of these aluminium cars are small because the tube tunnels were made as small as possible to keep construction costs down. The first Underground Railway was built by cut and cover (now known as the Metropolitan, Circle and District lines) and the cars on those lines are closer in size to conventional trains. I suppose that the project just had to take what was available, but the re-use seems to have made the most of the limited headroom. It certainly seems to be a creative use and arguably, in my mind, better that they be inhabited by people than fish.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 9, 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in transit, Urban Planning

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