Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for November 2022

The road to 1.5C is paved with auto retrofits

leave a comment »

This showed up in my email today. I have been hearing about people who wanted to hang on to their classic cars but retrofitted them to be electric vehicles. The prices that were quoted were eye watering.

This one is new to me. BC is already one of most electrified car provinces on the country. But this company is on our doorstep. And is worth checking out – or at least watching the short video.

Blue Dot Motorworks, a Seattle-based start-up developing universal retrofit kits that can convert virtually any conventional vehicle into a plug-in hybrid, is positioned to address this challenge with the most scalable, cost effective, and resource-efficient solution for the largest end-use contributor to climate change — road transportation. 

“Despite the recent growth in EV manufacturing, we will not have put a significant dent in the number of conventional vehicles currently on the road by 2050, due to the size and growth of the global fleet. 

“Moreover, at $66k for the average EV, the current market leaves behind many people, and excludes them from the benefits of electrification.  Blue Dot’s innovations will unlock the mainstream retrofit market in the same way that Ford’s manufacturing innovations with the Model T unlocked the mainstream automobile market: by making the solution affordable to the middle class through mass-production.

“Over the last 6 years, MIT-educated mechanical engineer Tom Gurski has developed, patented, and prototyped (literally from his garage!) the system you can see in action in this two minute video.

We will be piloting our product in BC for a couple of school districts. We are 18 months from commercially available kits, but we intend to make them available in Canada.”

Written by Stephen Rees

November 28, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Posted in electric cars

Amtrak November 8 18:30

with one comment

We left Pacific Central five minutes early and rolled along gently, overtaking a cyclist here and there, until we got to Sapperton.

We were in the dining car with Ivar’s chowder and Des Chutes porter when there was an announcement. They had just been informed that there were track works ahead, and the delay would be 45 minutes to an hour. It seems I was prophetic when I told the desk clerk at the hotel we might be very much later than the scheduled arrival time. There is no wifi on the train until we get south of the border, but when I can I am going to look up taxis in Seattle, just in case there are none in the rank. 

The last time we did this eleven years ago the schedule was better and the cars more comfortable. The Talgo train is in the shop, apparently.

At 19:35 we start moving ahead of any time mentioned in the announcements. By 20:30 we are at the border to hand over our customs declaration. 

Over the border the train speeds up. There is a very dodgy wifi that seems to drop in and out. To be free of roaming charges which are extortionate I go through the set up menu and turn everything off on the phone. 

20:58 approaching Bellingham

 We are, they say, an hour and fifteen minutes behind schedule.

~~~~~~~~~ 

The text above comes from the Notes app that I was using thinking I might make a journal for our trip to Seattle. It made up for the lack of wifi on the train – but in the event I did not write more, but I did take a lot of photos some of which are making their way onto a Flickr album.

This is what the Cascades train is going to look like – in 2026!

WSDOT image

We were late and by the time we got outside the station all the cabs had gone. Of course most people were getting Uber or Lyft. We could easily have walked. That was why I had booked the Best Western on Yesler. For the return journey, very early in the morning, that is exactly what we did. A cab did turn up after a short while and it was a cheap enough ride. Which was just as well since I never did find out the number of a taxi company to call.

The hotel is a listed building. But one thing I had not expected was that the bathroom window had been left wide open, on a very cold night. Of course, we closed it and cranked up the heater – but that did interfere a bit with getting to sleep that night as it relied on a very noisy fan.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 20, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Railway, taxi

I have left Twitter

with 2 comments

This is in case there are people who might wonder where I went after I said I was finished with Twitter – because obviously I can’t Tweet about that. And also to get more people who I know onto Mastodon – which is currently swamped – with people who are looking for an alternative to Twitter.

Once upon a time I decided to start blogging and I went to events that explained how you went about that. The most frequent advice was to establish a presence on Facebook and Twitter so that you could build readership for the blog. I left Facebook some time ago. That means I no longer know what my niece is baking. Becky’s cakes are well worth enjoying – but at this distance that won’t happen very often. Leaving Facebook means I lost touch with some relatives. And one or two people who I thought were “friends”. Maybe acquaintances would be more accurate.

This blog has been neglected mostly because I got bored writing the same thing. So much less appears now about issues like why free transit is not a Good Idea, and why Light Rail is actually not a very helpful way to understand the the needs of public transport. But it is still, I think, a viable way to have space where I can voice my opinions and experience – and control the response to that.

Many people now are moving away from Twitter and showing up on Mastodon. I had accounts on both. I will not close the Twitter account because I do not want someone else to assume my identity there. There are many people called Stephen Rees. I am going to control that on social media for as long as I can. In the same way as I am willing to pay for stephenrees.blog.

Today someone called Jennifer tooted

“Today, Elon stated that hate speech is allowed on Twitter now and will not be removed.

“It will be pushed lower with the algorithm

“His absolutist free speech views have already turned it into a cesspool of nastiness.”

That was, for me, the last straw. I have been a the target of hate speech for most of my life. I was a target because my father was a Jew. I was a target because I have “a toffee accent”. I was a target because I am an older white male. I was a target because I was intelligent and had a postgraduate degree. I was a target because I had “just stepped off the boat”. I was a target because I behaved as though women were equals to men. And so on.

For the last few years Tweetdeck has resided as the first tab on my browser window. I could watch what was being posted while the thing I was actually looking at was Flickr, or Freecell or a jigsaw puzzle. That won’t happen with Mastodon as it is over on the right somewhere past GMail.

Canada has made hate speech a crime. That was the Right Thing to do. Elon Musk is a billionaire. But that is by inheritance not skill or effort. He is an idiot. Just like Zuckerman. Or Trump. Powerful but wholly unqualified – for almost anything.

If you want to stay in contact you can find me here – now and again – and at @StephenRees@mas.to

It is perfectly possible that I will stay on Mastodon but look for a better match on “instance”. I am in no hurry to move right now. I am following the advice of Tony Bourdain to get out of my comfort zone.

I am also continuing to post and comment on pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/

Thank you for reading.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 18, 2022 at 7:19 pm

Posted in personal thoughts

Tagged with