Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for July 2017

TransLink on track for record-breaking ridership

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Source: TransLink on track for record-breaking ridership

I was expecting to actually see the Press Release and the stats from Translink instead of just a link, but this is easier than all the copy and paste I was going to have to do otherwise

Written by Stephen Rees

July 26, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

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Written by Stephen Rees

July 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

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Reform of ICBC needed

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Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.44.26 PMThe front page of Saturday’s Vancouver Sun was the need to raise insurance rates identified by a leaked report that the BC Liberals asked for, and then kept quiet about. Over the next 24 hours the tone of the Sun story has changed on line since, of course, the corporation (Postmedia) that publishes the Sun supports the BC Liberals. So the banner headline on line now reads “NDP must come clean about plans for ICBC, Liberal Opposition demands” rather than “Huge ICBC rate hikes loom without reform:report”. The report comes from Ernst & Young and is critical of the policies of the BC Liberal government which cross subsidized mandatory basic rates from the profitable optional side.

The report was commissioned by ICBC’s board earlier this year, but was not made public. A copy was leaked to Postmedia News.

While ICBC premiums are among the highest in Canada, the report said, “they are not high enough to cover the true cost of paying claims.”

“More accidents are occurring on B.C.’s roads, and the number and average settlement of claims are increasing. Only recent government intervention has protected B.C. drivers from the currently required 15 per cent to 20 per cent price increases. This rate protection has eroded ICBC’s financial situation to a point where it is not sustainable.

“The average driver in B.C. may need to pay almost $2,000 in annual total premiums for auto insurance by 2019, an increase of 30 per cent over today’s rates,” the report said, adding that assumes that current trends persist, that ICBC is expected to cover its costs from its premiums and that significant reforms are not made.

There are a number of recommendations

The review suggested B.C. could follow the models of New Brunswick, Alberta and parts of Australia by capping payouts for pain and suffering on minor injuries from $4,000 to $9,000, while at the same time increasing accident wage and medical benefits.

It’s also possible to let drivers buy an optional “top-up” coverage that would, in effect, give the drivers back the right to sue to replace any reduced claim money they could have got through the courts.

Minor claims have soared in cost by 365 per cent since 2000 and are eating up 60 per cent of all total injury payouts, says the report. The size of cash settlements for minor injuries is also rising, as is the number of accidents on the road and the cost to fix technology inside modern vehicles.

Of course the Liberals are already accusing the NDP of wanting a “no fault” system – even before the new government has had time to get their feet under the table. The Liberals are also in full damage control mode since it was their decision to cancel photo radar that started the problem. Changing red light cameras to catch speeders would be a relatively easy thing to do, but the real speed problems are out on the open road. The intersection issues arise from contempt for other basic rules of the road, lack of common courtesy and patience, and an almost total absence of common sense.

Unfortunately there is no mention of the interval camera system. This uses existing technology widely used in traffic surveys to match number plates over a fixed distance. The owner of the vehicle gets a ticket when the car has covered the distance between two cameras in much less time than the posted speed limit allows. This system is more effective that the just at this point of the old photo radar – which was housed in a fairly distinctive vehicle, and thus fairly easy to avoid.

I think another reform is not just capping the amount allowed for minor claims, but also banning the present practice of lawyers advertising for claimants and being paid on a share of the payout. The incessant repetition of these ads during the CBC 6pm tv news means I now know them off by heart. And the message is that you can make ICBC increase the payments they offer if you sign on with a the named lawyer. Of course, what it does not say is the increase in the settlement goes to the lawyer and not the plaintiff. I find these practices offensive and they have only been permitted in recent years and should be reversed. It simply wrong to expect to make a profit from the suffering of others – and I think these adverts get very close to encouraging people to exaggerate their claims.

The mismanagement of crown corporations under the previous government is going to take some time to correct. If I were advising the BC Liberals, I would tell them to tone down the attacks, when clearly the current government has to do what it can to sort out the mess the Liberals left behind. The current tone taken by my local MLA Andrew Wilkinson, Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena is not one that is going to win him much support. Except from Mr Toad who enjoys speeding and relishes crashes as exciting intervals in an otherwise dull existence.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 23, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

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The photo challenge this week is to post “a photo that is unusual in some way for you“. I started by scrolling through my photostream on flickr – and they all seemed pretty usual for me. So then I tried a search of the stream using the term “unusual” – which picked out pictures where I had used that word in the photo’s title or description. Many of them seemed pretty mundane to me – but when I showed this one to my partner she confirmed my feeling by saying, “That’s a pretty neat picture!”

Underneath this one I had written

The snow melts a little during the day but freezes hard overnight – instant informal hockey rinks are now dotting the fields of Richmond. This one is at Steveston Highway and No 4 Road.

This was unusual weather for Richmond – if it had not been I doubt I would have posted it.

The photo was taken in January 2007. This kind of weather is common in Canada – as is the making of outdoor rinks. But it is not common in the south west corner of the mainland in BC where the climate is much milder than the centre of the continent. I have not seen anything like this since, even though we had a lot of snow this winter, there was not the same freeze thaw cycle which produces enough ice to skate on safely. Although the Parks Board did post signs and life guards to deter skaters from some of Vancouver’s ponds.

 

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July 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

WPC: Collage (part two)

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Yesterday I posted a collage of Trastevere in Rome. I mentioned that we had found the Villa Farnesina closed – so we had to go back. These are some of the pictures I took of the famous frescoes in the villa. Warning to those who may be in a highly puritanical workplace – some of these images may not be safe for work.

Posted as a second response to the Weekly Photo Challenge

 

Written by Stephen Rees

July 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

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I am taking the prompt very literally again.

“The Roman neighborhood of Trastevere is perennially popular with both tourists and locals…”

Yes, I know I’ve been there. Twice actually. We stayed in Rome across the river in a much cheaper neighbourhood called Testaccio. We would have been connected by a direct tram service, but the track was being worked on, and the replacement bus was much less attractive. But we got across the river and used the tram in Trastevere, which is one of the best in the system, as much of it is on an exclusive right of way.

There are many attractions – including the Villa Farnesina that was closed when we got there, hence the need for the second trip.

This week, share a collage with us. It can be a collage you find out in the world — a grouping of flyers on a telephone pole, patches of plants in a bed of flowers, a parking lot checkered with colorful cars — or a collage made of multiple photos. (What a great use of a tiled gallery! Nudge nudge.)

So below this paragraph is my tiled gallery. Many of the images have not been shared on flickr, but have been uploaded solely for this post. Click on any picture to enlarge it, and you can then see the rest, full page, by clicking the left or right arrow next to the image.

I also made a video of the Trio Taraf playing in the Piazza di Santa Maria

 

Written by Stephen Rees

July 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Massey Bridge and the Continual Sound of One Hand Clapping

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Price Tags

proposed-george-massey-bridge-artist-rendering

It’s not over until it’s over as the Mayor of Delta actually said that the overbuilt overpriced ten lane Massey bridge  would be less harmful to the Fraser River than a tunnel. Of course the Mayor of Delta also referred to the disaster scenario about an earthquake and a tunnel, something that is being continually trotted out as the reason that an overbuilt, single occupant vehicle friendly ten lane bridge with no rapid transit provision is good for us as a region. There’s a 14,000 page study done by the previous Provincial government, and of course the very limited no option “open house” workshops on the project which we are told were “very positive” for a new bridge.

In an interview with the CBC, the Mayor of Delta was asked if there was any way she could support a tunnel.  “Not unless I became a non-environmentalist,” said Jackson, adding…

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Written by Stephen Rees

July 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Transportation