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

Archive for March 24th, 2009

BC Greens Election Platform Released

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Vancouver –BC Greens announced the release of their election platform, the Green Book 2009-2103.

“Our new Green Book details an ambitious, practical program to put BC on a path toward long-term economic stability,” said Jane Sterk, Leader of the Green Party of BC. “The Green Book contains over 500 specific measures to address social challenges, build a strong resilient economy, combat climate change and preserve our natural resources.”

“BC Greens advocate for the gradual weaning of our economy away from a dependence on growth toward a steady-state economy that provides opportunities to add value through means other than growth. A Green economy will create jobs that are long-term, increase the health and quality of life for future generations, and help create an economy resilient to sudden shock. Our plan promotes small businesses, ensures workers are treated fairly and offers more opportunity for local economies. We will reduce taxes on economic activities that are beneficial to society, while increasing taxes on harmful activities like pollution, smoking and junk food.

“To combat the threat of growing crime, BC Greens propose a new BC Police Service with Regional Units and an independent Police Commissioner to look into police complaints. These measures, in combination with our policy to end drug prohibition, will help to significantly reduce crime in BC.

“The Green Party stands apart from Liberals and the NDP by publicly supporting BC-STV, opposing salmon fish farms, encouraging local small-scale agriculture and a new value-added wood products industry, promoting clean and green energy, and steering clear of megaprojects for energy generation and transmission, roadways and oil and gas transportation across the province.

“This Green Book introduces some crucial changes to government including the formation of a new Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the introduction of elected Regional Resource Management Boards and a re-balancing of health authorities across the province to improve local control.”

The Green Book is available on the BC Green Party’s website or can be ordered by calling toll-free 1-888-473-3686.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Posted in politics

Shall we repeat the same mistake?

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This video was made in 1996. Some things have changed since then. For one thing General Motors has been back in Washington again recently – this time lobbying for its very survival.

It is astonishing that the myths – and outright lies – that the conspirators of the last century spread, still have so much currency. The program which destroyed the US public transportation systems, wrecked most downtowns, ruined the air and created the Interstates has been shown to have been a corporate plot to drive up the profits of some companies at the expense of the public interest. There is nothing new here – but it is worth watching again. And then it worth wondering why it is that our government is pressing ahead with a freeway widening, but casting doubt upon the transit system’s ability to raise funds through innovative methods, and only promising transit expansion for the future – after the new roads have been built, not now – and indeed repeating all the same policies that the US followed from 1945 to 1996. We know what the outcome of that era was – and most places have reversed that trend.

And they did that before the crisis of climate change became such an immediate and pressing problem. There is no doubt that the reason North Americans produce so much ghg per capita is because they live in suburbs, in big houses well separated from jobs and services which they have to access by driving – and they use large gas guzzlers to do that. Canadians live in much the same way that Usonians do. And if Mr Falcon gets his way residents of the Fraser Valley will have to continue to live that way for the next forty years in a world that is rapidly running out of fossil fuel, and increasingly getting warmer. And he is ignoring all the evidence that this is the wrong choice – and one that not even the bankers on Wall Street will fund!

And if you are interested in the system that we tore up here at about the same time take a look at the Buzzer blog

Written by Stephen Rees

March 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Amtrak gets federal funding for Cascades

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Railway Age magazine reports that $56.1m in US federal funding has been allocated to the Cascades passenger train service.

For fiscal year 2008, ended Sept. 30, Cascades service carried 760,323 riders, up 12.8% from the previous fiscal year. Four Cascades trains each way link Seattle with Portland, Ore.; two of those reach further south to originate and terminate in Eugene, Ore. One additional frequency runs between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia; the state of Washington, province of British Columbia, and Amtrak are in discussions to add a second cross-border train.

They have been “in discussion” for far too long. An extra passing loop was added in South Delta last spring but since then the second train has not been launched simply because a Canadian federal agency is seeking to extract extra revenue from it.  Border services want to be paid more because they say adding a second train to an existing service is a “new service”. If an airline adds an extra trip to an existing cross border service that does not attract any attention- neither do bus services that increase their frequencies. But Amtrak is somehow different. Of course the undoubted benefits that a second train would bring in reducing congestion and motor vehicle emissions at road boarder crossings do not figure in their calculations.

The Canadian government is indeed one of the worst offenders in foot dragging over simple changes that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Harper is much more concerned about the revenue streams to his pals in the Alberta oil patch. And the BC government is, of course, silent on the issue.

“Discussions” are not needed. All that has to happen is for someone in Ottawa to issue an edict to the BSA, or just give them a small amount in extra funding from some program or other to allow the train to start.   It would, of course, be nothing like the amount the US government has just given but it might give them some indication that we are interested in getting along with our neighbours.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 24, 2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in Railway