Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for December 31st, 2008


with 9 comments

At this time of year there are two types of story you can do. A review of the year gone by or a look at what lies in store.

I am resisting the review of 2008, simply because I rarely bother with reading things like that by others.

But two forecasts that popped up on Twitter this morning are worth looking at. James Howard Kunstler has a longish piece in the Straight, which takes his usual dyspeptic view of America’s future and underlines his earlier forecasts that have been fulfilled – such as the growing volatility of oil prices.

I am especially concerned about an “infrastructure stimulus” project aimed at highway improvement at the expense of public transit. This would be the epitome of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. We need to begin planning right away for a transition away from automobiles, not in order to be good socialists but because Happy Motoring is at the core of our unsustainability trap. The car system is going to fail in manifold ways whether we like it or not, and it will fail due to circumstances already underway.

He is of course talking about the new US administration – but it applies equally here. Despite his profession of being green with his “carbon emissions levy” (First in Canada!) Gordon Campbell is still pressing ahead with the Gateway. As long as he can get it funded.

The introduction of the carbon tax has also allowed his minion Kevin Falcon to back down from the “no new taxes” mantra – and even the vehicle levy looks like making a comeback as way of digging Translink out of the financial pit it has dug for itself. Jeff Nagel in his blog post today speculates about how that will play out with the Mayors – and what that could mean. One possibility is that Falcon has to come clean and actually take responsibility for his decisions. And the “new” idea is that the levy if it is introduced will be a “value proposition” – it will give some kind of break on transit fares to those who have to pay it. Which only goes to show that these people never ever learn from their own mistakes. This thing could have the worst elements of UPass added to its appeal – yeah, that’ll work!

For those of you who have stayed with me through the ups and downs of 2008, thankl you for your loyalty and continued interest. 2009 is not going to be an easy year either but at least we have the chance of seeing some change in Victoria as well as in DC – and quite possibly in Ottawa too. We can but hope for a more progressive approach here in BC and in Canada.

Please be safe tonight and let someone else drive – transit is free after 5pm

Written by Stephen Rees

December 31, 2008 at 12:30 pm