Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for December 3rd, 2008

Businessman proposes Nanaimo passenger ferry to mainland

with 5 comments

Vancouver Sun

“This is the coast (that is the) most undeveloped (in the world) for high-speed ferries.”

I think that is hyperbole rather than a carefully researched statistic. But if he can make a go of his ferry to Bowen Island, then maybe he has a chance. Not surprisingly, another one he tried between Toronto and St Catherine’s failed.

Being stuck at Duke Point for several hours in the pouring rain – my most recent experience on this run – gives me some reason to wish him luck – but I was in a car, so a passenger only high speed ferry would not have done me any good then. And the lack of transit services in the mid Island would also make me think twice about using it.

But as one wag remarked at the time of the Glen Clark fast ferry fiasco “Who wants to get to Nanaimo sooner?” AND Gabriola-based musician Bob Bossin once composed a ditty entitled “It’s So Nice Not to Be in Nanaimo” – anyone have an mp3 of that?

Written by Stephen Rees

December 3, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Posted in ferries, Transportation

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City Bus Drivers Say That Fare Beaters Have the Upper Hand in Confrontations

with 4 comments

New York Times

It is with some reluctance that I open up, once again, the can of worms that is fare evasion and transit safety. I would not have done so had not the CBC once sandbagged me on air with an unexpected clip of a New York cop talking about fare evaders as criminals.

Before you comment on this post you are required to click on the the link at the top and read the whole story in the New York times. There are also related links (the NYT understands how to use a web site now: it will take the Aspers years to catch up). It is desperately sad and my deepest sympathy is extended to the family, friends and coworkers of Edwin Thomas, who died trying to do his job.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, acknowledged that while the department’s Transit Bureau has more than 2,000 officers dedicated to the subway system, there are none dedicated to buses except during operations like fare-evasion crackdowns. One such crackdown, which began on Oct. 22, has resulted in 86 arrests and 349 summonses, he said.

That is because there are city police on the streets who can be summoned and get to the scene more quickly.

The point I want to make is that the NY subway system still needs to be subject to “fare evasion crackdowns” even though there are turnstiles at every station. A significant police force is required because the existence of those barriers has not made the NY subway “safe”. There was a lot all over the media yesterday about SkyTrain safety and the gap between public perceptions and reality. And a clip on CBC news of the SkyTrain CEO Doug Kelsey repeating the mantra “perception IS reality”.  Most of media decided that the proposed use of dogs made the story newsworthy. (If you want the full meal deal go to the Buzzer blog – and be sure to read the comments)

All kinds of people evade fares for all sorts of reasons. They are not all hardened criminals, and their reasons for evasion range from indigence to an attitude that fare collection is a “game” they can win at. The right wing here likes to cite New York as an example for us to follow. The examples of zero tolerance and the “broken window” strategy are cited approvingly. Yet there are on average 89 assaults on New York bus drivers a year. Edwin Thomas did not seem to get much benefit from these policies. I am far from convinced that they would change much here.

I also remain skeptical that introducing dogs will do much good either. There are plenty of people here who are extremely uncomfortable around dogs, both for cultural reasons and, even more sadly, bitter experience. There are far too many regimes that use police dogs to intimidate the populace in general. Not that I think Translink wants to do that – but (as Kelsey seems to be aware) some people may perceive it that way.

But as always my theme is that barriers on SkyTrain will not do what their proponents claim. They will be an immense waste of money and a continuing drain on the system. Money that could be spent on better transit service, which gets more people on the system. Which is what makes people feel safe. But is also what we need to make this region more livable.


Written by Stephen Rees

December 3, 2008 at 11:48 am

On coalitions

with one comment

I watched the performance of Stephen Harper on the CBC News last night. He was whipping himself up into a frenzy on how the possible coalition now – with the support of the Bloc – somehow “threatens Canada”. The CBC nicely caught one of his misrepresentations. “They couldn’t be photographed in front of a Canadian flag, Mr Speaker” – and there was the footage with the flag in the upper left hand corner of the shot.

The following is also doing the rounds

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.

Governor General

Rideau Hall

1 Sussex Drive

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1


As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.


Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.

Leader of the Opposition

Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.

Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.

Leader of the New Democratic Party

Now that you have the postal address of Her Excellency perhaps you would like to drop her a note too. Cut and paste would be quite useful, I think

Written by Stephen Rees

December 3, 2008 at 9:27 am

Posted in politics

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