Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for April 2022

End of the Line

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(Coming to digital and cable on demand platforms in the United States June 14)

Feature Documentary/ Not Yet Rated / Running Time: 65 Minutes

“Award-winning filmmaker Emmett Adler’s feature documentary END OF THE LINE is a character-driven political drama about the New York City subway crisis and a long overdue reckoning on infrastructure. 

Establishing the vital economic importance and grandeur of New York City’s historic subway system, the film dives into its dire modern-day troubles picking up in the late 2010s when flooding, overcrowding, power failures, and derailments have become commonplace. After a particularly bad spate of disasters in the summer of 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaims a state of emergency and hires a new international wunderkind executive named Andy Byford to save the subways. Byford, an earnest Briton with an impressive resume, enters as a charismatic would-be hero.

As the political turmoil behind the subway’s decline comes into sharp focus, scenes in barbershops, bodegas, and bakeries show the frustration and devastation among business owners and residents who are caught in the middle. 

Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic furthers this, and brings to light America’s need to shore up its infrastructure in cities across the country and the inequality struggles that are central to this debate. A heartfelt and scrupulous exploration, this film poses the question: what happens when the lifeline of a city goes flat?

This film is dedicated to the heroic New York City transit workers who lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his tenure as President of MTA NYC Transit, Andy Byford presents his
Fast Forward Plan to fix New York City’s transit system.
(Photo Credit: Gravitas Ventures)
(L-R) Andy Byford and Joe Lhota in Emmett Adler’s END OF THE LINE
During his tenure as President of MTA NYC Transit, Andy Byford presents his
Fast Forward Plan to fix New York City’s transit system. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota stands to Byford’s right. (2018)

Written by Stephen Rees

April 20, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Railway, transit, Transportation

Tagged with

Cloud Album

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Last week we went to North Vancouver. For the last two years we haven’t been anywhere very much, but I have wanted to go see the new Museum of North Vancouver for its restored streetcar, and whatever was on at the Polygon Gallery. I had also thought of fish and chips for lunch at the Quay market but that was not to be. They are undergoing renovation and the the chip shop is not one that has stayed open. Fortunately there are other options.

The Polygon has no permanent collection but the current exhibit (until May 1) uses the same title as this post. I did put the three pictures below on Flickr but they have been mostly ignored.

John Constable's Clouds
John Constable's Clouds
John Constable's Clouds

They are three paintings by Constable that he produced outdoors at great speed to record the changes in clouds as the British weather changes rapidly. I was a bit nonplussed by their reception but perhaps I should also have posted this image

I was sufficiently inspired by the exhibit as a whole to point my camera at sky outside.


I don’t claim to be a Constable, but it is now a lot easier to make cloud images than in 1822. I was also much less impressed by some of the (very small) images made by early photographers – later in the 19th century – who were also using far less sophisticated equipment. I don’t know why but somehow looking at the actual paintings made by Constable was much more impressive than watching a program about him on my television set.

These images were all made later in the day. So I would like your response to this question: is it worthwhile for me to post these to Flickr?

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Posted in photography

Guest Post for National Poetry Month

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I get at least half a dozen emails every day from PR people offering me content for this blog. It is not often that I decide to use any of this stuff – but then I don’t always read everything. I just skim in case I might miss something. What you can read below is something that captured my attention. I recommend that you read all of it. And I hope that some book sales might result from that.


National Poetry Month is happening now! 

Eugenia Zukerman is CBS Sunday Morning’s classical music correspondent, world renowned flutist, and now author of the memoir Like Falling Through a Cloud: A Lyrical Memoir of Coping With Forgetfulness, Confusion, and a Dreaded Diagnosis(East End Press). Eugenia has Alzheimer’s and Like Falling Through a Cloud is a lyrical memoir she wrote shorty after diagnosis. Through poetry, Eugenia has processed her own diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, and inspired others around the world as well.

A few of the posts are pasted below. More at

A few years ago my daughters told me they were worried about my forgetfulness, my loss of words, my confusion. They suggested, or rather insisted I get tested. A flutist, writer, artistic director, busy playing and performing, I simply refused. But when I finally agreed to trek uptown with my younger daughter I was tested. I was shocked that indeed my cognitive ability was compromised and would only get worse. I was quietly terrified and indignant, and when I got home, I went to sat down at my desk and stared at the wall for what seemed a long time. I did not cry. I did not move. But then, for some reason I took out a pen and paper and started to write. What spilled out is mostly in verse. Putting pen to paper helped me to find my own way through the brambles of loss.

What resulted is my book, a lyrical memoir titled Like Falling Through a Cloud: A Lyrical Memoir of Coping with Forgetfulness, Confusion, and a Dreaded Diagnosis

Here are three poems I’ve chosen from Like Falling Through a Cloud to which I’ve included an intro to each:


I think this poem speaks to the confusion and fear I was actually feeling in a hot crowded subway as I realized I had no idea to find my way out of the underground station. I remember having a mix of panic and self anger. “How can you be so stupid,” I remember telling myself. Yet I believe I was oddly poised and when I emerged from the station and I was able to compose myself and walk home, cooling calmly off.

I’ve returned to the city

            where everyone is busy

                 and scurrying

                        and worrying

and it’s late summer

            subways are crowded and hot

   folks are sweating a lot

 and the trains are

       always late

and some man gets up

 to offer me his seat

  which is sweet

      if somehow insulting

here’s my stop

     I’m attempting to exit

I push             my way out

  doors close behind

    but  when I look up at a sign…

            this stop




                        And worse

I’m totally turned around and can’t figure out

            do I need to go back uptown

or change to the downtown track and how do

                        I do that


             I wander around the station

            looking for an exit, any exit           




            I stagger up

                        until I’m out

                              above ground

Out of breath

            having arrived


A walk home will be good

            I need to get my bearings

                but I won’t be sharing

            the story of my panic or pretty soon

                                    I’ll be forced to wear

                                       a lovely bracelet


                              MEMORY IMPAIRED



Here I am trying to be responsible, thinking about what I should be doing to get ready to leave my worldly goods to my family by going to my banker. At the same time I was imagining the idea my husband and I concocted, in a kidding mode, that we would put on deer suits, go out on the first day of hunting, and wait to meet our fates… hoping of course that the hunters would know how to shoot straight.

I’ve made a date

with my


because I hanker

to know where things stand

when it comes to what I’ll hand

to my next of kin

so I should begin

to keep track of stuff

to see if there is enough

to pass around

when I’m under the ground

I’m not being dramatic

but I can no longer be static

about what lies ahead

when I’m dead

which oddly I do not dread


I want to avoid leaving a mess

for the family to assess

I’d like them to say

she left it this way

to keep trouble at bay

and to avoid a fray

I don’t expect to croak

at midnight’s stroke

but I don’t want to be

one hundred and three

which my mother’s achieved

I will stick with the plan

I’ve made with my man –

when the time seems right

we will have the delight

of donning deer suits

on the first day of hunting

and we’ll go out in the fields

and wait

      to meet our fates —

  only I  hope

   the hunters  know how to




      r a   







The parties were married to one another in a civil ceremony


as a result of their marriage the Parties wish by this agreement to

define their rights and interests in one another’s property; and


each of the Parties has been informed of his/her rights and privileges in and to the property of the other under the laws…and each understands that under law their marriage confers specific rights upon each of them; and


in order to promote tranquility and certainty…the Parties desire to define and limit by the Agreement the interests, rights and claims which accrue to each of them in the property of the other by reason of their marriage to each other; and…


If the parties are wearing  their respective deer suits and each has donned their

respective antlers, then each understands that the rights and claims of the other

will be null and void if  he or she should be the receiver of the first bullet; and


 as a result of being the first receiver it will not matter diddly squat

                  who gets what

              but let it be noted

that the certainty of  tranquility will have been perfectly promoted.



Here I am on a spring afternoon reveling in the beauty and bounty of nature.

Almost August

       and the tomatoes are bulging

on their vines

          the flowers continue

to burst toward the sky

     in colors that astound

while on the ground

           our once hearty kale

      has been ripped out by rabbits

who attack at dawn

     and are gone

                   in a flash

leaving the crop tattered and torn

           Nothing lasts forever

not kale or tomatoes or cucumbers

   or the glorious flowers that fill our fields

      or the people we adore

        and though I know my days are numbered

       I feel unencumbered

          by thoughts of my demise

             I do not embrace

             my inevitable decline

          but I’m determined

                  to find

       a way to make the rest of my stay

           on this problematic planet

                 filled with light

                    and love



As for the deer suit I promised to don

      I don’t think I’ll put it on

not now     not yet

    I’m not ready

               I feel steady

   and I have a strategy to keep on keeping on 

                 which is simple:

      wake up

            fetch the flute

                   summon up Syrinx

          give thanks for another day

                   and then

            play on!

                  play on!   

Written by Stephen Rees

April 6, 2022 at 11:26 am

Posted in Art

Tagged with ,

Tony Robinson in Canada

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“Around the World by Train” with Tony Robinson Season 2 Episode 4 – Canada

Currently available streaming on Knowledge Network – or broadcast repeat on April 9 11pm

I will start by stating that I am greatly enjoying this series – just as much as I did Season 1, and I am happy to recommend it. It is in my opinion much better than than Michael Portillo’s similar efforts, although I have yet to see his version of Canada.

BUT there were errors and omissions in last night’s episode that I just cannot let go.

Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC

Tony travelled up the Pacific Coast from California (last week he ended up in Los Angeles) on Amtrak to Seattle, then took the Cascades to Vancouver. Of course that train arrives at Pacific Central but he got that confused with the former terminal of the Canadian Pacific – now Waterfront which handles SkyTrain and West Coast Express. I would have thought that the story of the competition between CP run by an American and the Great Northern which ran across the northern United States and was run by a Canadian would have been opportune here but there is only limited time on the program and they wanted to show Tony pretending to be a hockey goalie. It is, after all, entertainment.

The omission that is less easy to forgive is the first section after his arrival here when he asks why there are so many Scots in Canada, which gets a response about settlers from everywhere else. There is not one word about the people who had been living here for thousands of years, and still do, despite the settlers best efforts to assimilate them. At least we now seem to be trying to make amends, to some extent.

Then he takes off on the Rocky Mountaineer – but neglects to mention the intermediate overnight stop in Kamloops, which gets no coverage at all, and arrives in Jasper, which is in Alberta. Again that fact is not mentioned because he is too busy helping the National Park Rangers chase the elk out of town. He gets back to Prince Rupert on the VIA Skeena service, which gets a great deal less attention than was devoted to the Mountaineer. There is of course no train from Prince Rupert to Alaska, but he does get a short ride to Talkeetna on the Alaska Railroad.

Holland America train from Anchorage to Denali

Again, the opportunity to examine the extent to which Canadians now take care of passenger service on the railways that built modern Canada was missed. Though he does meet a young Calgarian woman who had never ridden any train in her life until boarding the RM.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 5, 2022 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Transportation


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WordPress has started a new monthly prompt to encourage posts. “WordPrompt, a single-word monthly exercise that aims to inspire you to create new posts, regardless of what or how you publish.”

This month’s WordPrompt is:


As it happens I recently took a picture of the grass at Trafalgar Park – one of our neighbourhood parks. I was thinking mostly of getting pictures of the sakura (tree blossoms) but I was struck by the quality of the lawn which will once again be our nearest cricket pitch. We have had a great deal of rain – and the grass has greatly benefitted. Actually out of shot in the image is the very large puddle the ducks were enjoying.

This is from a link to Flickr but on my screen it looks out of focus so below is the original
Which looks better and I needed for the “Featured Image”

Written by Stephen Rees

April 5, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with