Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Removal of Railway Crossing Signals: Arbutus at 12th

leave a comment »

IMG_5920IMG_5923IMG_5929IMG_5930

I know that recently I read somewhere about the hopes of preserving the railway heritage of the Arbutus Greenway. It had a lyrical bit about nostalgia for the trains and an old guy painting one of the remaining signals. Of course, I can’t find that now.

I am quite pleased to see that the signals at 12th Avenue were being removed this morning. I do understand the nostalgia for the way railways used to be, but in this case I think it is more important that redundant equipment and signs out to be taken away. I want drivers to treat railway crossings with the respect they deserve. Keeping these signals in place after the tracks were removed simply reduces amount of attention a signal will get by people unfamiliar with the neighbourhood. If they get accustomed to ignoring signals here that might get transferred to other locations where trains operate but infrequently and unpredictably – in other words almost everywhere else in Canada.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

with 5 comments

CN 2627 and 2591 at Ballantine Pier

via Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

Pingbacks have been causing issues recently – and one reason might be that the way the URL appears in the “post about shiny” button is different to the one in the address bar. As is the one in the instructions at the bottom of challenge Ooh, Shiny!

(I did tell WordPress about this on Twitter and they have fixed it. )

So the challenge this week – “what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?”

Trains.

Yesterday I was out in East Vancouver for the third day running trying to make sure I captured all of the new murals that have appeared due to the annual Vancouver Mural Festival. There are now three posts on this blog about the murals – just scroll down to see them. We were in Strathcona – down by the docks – where there are now two clusters of murals and I was checking the address on my phone when I saw the distinctive red and black of a CN C44-9W. I immediately knew that the two locomotives would not be there for very long. Trains – especially freight trains in North America – can be very unpredictable. Real train enthusiasts carry “scanners”: portable radios that monitor the frequencies used by train crews and dispatchers. That way they can figure out where a train might be photographable. I don’t do that as I can’t usually understand what they are saying and often it’s just chatter.

But while the murals will be around for a very long time, this train was going to being heading east with its load of containers sooner rather than later. While it was sitting about a block away from where we were, I could see at least a couple of possible angles. There is a new, real obstacle on Alexander Street: a high chainlink fence with the metal chain encased in heavy duty plastic. It is possible to get a lens into the mesh, but there is not much wiggle room for a clear shot. But at least the sun was behind me and the cruise ship terminal building was a decent backdrop. I tried several but the picture I chose to use was one that showed both locos and lots of nice blue sky – a novelty in Vancouver this summer – as well as the mountains.

Once upon a time I used to spend quite a lot of time trying to be a railway photographer. It is quite a challenge to get decent shots – and in this region it has got harder as more tracks have been fenced or more strenuously policed by officious security people who have nothing better to do than harass harmless photographers. And anyway there are now other distractions.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 9:50 am

Vancouver Mural Festival part 2

leave a comment »

The northern end of Main Street at Industrial Avenue plus the Red Truck Brewery. There are seven more murals at Makerlabs, 780 East Cordova which are now covered in part 3. I have also now made up for missing half of the murals at Belvedere Court which is the large bottom image in the mosaic as well as the featured image (The Present).

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Transit Report Card released

leave a comment »

fullsizeoutput_24e9

Nathan Pachal has posted his annual Transit Report Card on the South Fraser blog. This report compares information from the major transit authorities that is derived from the Canada Transit Fact Book published by the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

I am not going to say very much about the report itself because I think you should follow the link and go read it for yourself. It does show that Translink is doing pretty well. Or perhaps I need to rephrase that. It shows that in 2015 Translink did pretty well. Because despite this being 2017 and all of us having the equivalent of the data processing capacity of the Apollo space missions in our hip pocket, it still takes a bunch of publicly funded and regulated agencies that long to get their act together on comparative data. In the United States APTA and FTA seem to be able to do things better in the sense of “easy to get hold of” if not actually faster. Go to the CUTA web site and you will read “Please note that these publications are not available for distribution to non-CUTA members.” In other words you, the people who pay for and use public transportation cannot access this sort of information easily in Canada. So thanks to Nathan Pachal for performing a very necessary public service – and smack upside the head to the people who think this data needs to be locked away somewhere.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

Posted in transit, Transportation

Tagged with , ,

Another Idea for Granville Island

leave a comment »

Credit for this idea goes to Connor Murphy – who posted to Twitter in a thread – and provided this illustration.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 6.52.35 PM

Imagine a timber clad boardwalk that threads its way through over and under the existing bridge, sloped sections for accessibility and opening sections for boats. It could act as a driver for change and growth on Granville Island

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 6.54.37 PM

I think this is an idea that has merit. My first concern is how steep the ramp would be and what impact that could have on accessibility. And I also think that this is the sort of thing that could be done on a trial basis. I would support it, as long as it did not mean that the idea of elevators to the existing bridge deck to connect to new bus stops was not abandoned as no longer needed. I would also expect opposition from the little ferry operators!

There is also the non-trivial issue of raw materials going to the readymixed concrete plant on large barges.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 7, 2017 at 7:03 pm

There Will Be Spills

leave a comment »

o-PIPELINE-facebook

My opposition to the TransMountain Pipeline expansion is that it will be redundant sooner rather than later. But if course that is not taken into account by any regulatory process. The pipeline has been approved and the new BC government seems to rewinding its pre-election promise to stop it. It will not just feed the export terminal in Burnaby, it will also feed the oil refineries in Washington state. It is also very unlikely that much of dilbit will be exported to Asia: most of it will go to the US refineries that can cope with heavy crudes. This will inevitably lead to the extirpation of the resident orca population in the Salish Sea already suffering due to the lack of salmon that they depend on. The rest of this post is taken from a Greenpeace press release. Once again I doubt that the corporate media will do anything but soft shoe shuffle around this issue and perhaps bleat again about jobs (just as they did with LNG) even though the employment prospects for renewables are far better than fossil fuels.


New report reveals one spill a week in US from three tar sands pipeline companies

3 August 2017 (EDMONTON) — A map and policy brief released today by Greenpeace detail a legacy of spills — roughly one every week in the United States since 2010 — from three companies proposing to build four tar sands pipelines. The map plots the location and size of 373 spills from pipelines owned by Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, TransCanada and their subsidiaries, totaling 63,221 barrels of hazardous liquids in just seven years.

These “Dirty Three” of pipeline companies, two of which are Canadian, are at varying stages of building four controversial oil pipelines from Alberta’s tar sands across North America. Data in the map and brief covers spills in the United States, where TransCanada is attempting to re-ignite the Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge is in the late stages of permitting for its Line 3 Expansion pipeline, which would travel over 1,000 miles, crossing North Dakota and Minnesota to its destination on Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Kinder Morgan hopes to begin construction on the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline in British Columbia this fall, while TransCanada has restarted the approval process for its Energy East pipeline, which would pass through six provinces.

Key findings in the brief include:

  • Despite industry claims, pipeline spills have remained a steady problem, with significant spills of crude oil and petroleum products increasing over the last several years across many states along the three companies’ pipeline networks. The companies’ 373 spills since 2010 account for a total of 63,221 barrels of hazardous liquids, the largest being Enbridge’s 20,082 barrels of tar sands oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River.

  • Extrapolating from current rates of incidents, Kinder Morgan can expect 36 significant spills (see Note 2 below), Keystone XL can expect 59 significant spills in its lifetime and Line 3 Expansion can expect 51.

  • Along with being far more carbon-intensive than conventional crude, diluted bitumen has been shown to be much harder to clean up when spilled in water. Both Line 3 Expansion and Keystone XL make multiple water crossings and run near key watersheds and wetland habitats.

“This data exposes these tar sands pipeline companies’ worrying safety records. There’s good reason for concern among Indigenous Peoples and communities living along these companies’ pipeline routes on both sides of the border — it’s their lands and waters that would be directly contaminated by an oil spill. With these three companies and their subsidiaries creating one spill a week in the US, it’s not a question of ‘if’ there will be a spill, but ‘when and how big’ that spill will be,” said Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

Financial support for these pipelines is being provided by banks including TD, RBC, CIBC and JPMorgan Chase. Credit union association Desjardins has also provided financial support, but recently announced a moratorium on oil pipeline financing and investments in response to concerns about the threats pipelines pose to the environment and Indigenous rights. Greenpeace Canada and Greenpeace USA are part of an international coalition of civil society and Indigenous organizations campaigning to urge financial institutions to pull their investments in tar sands pipelines given the high financial, reputational and environmental risks they pose.

(1) In Canada, pipeline spill reporting falls under a combination of federal and provincial jurisdictions, leaving Canadians without a central, up-to-date set of data due to discrepancies in the transparency, quality and user-friendliness across jurisdictions. One of the most comprehensive spill databases in Canada was actually compiled by Global Television, which showed that Alberta (the epicentre of tar sands production) averaged 2 spills a day for the 37 years covered by the dataset. [Note that the map linked to in this paragraph only covers Alberta.]

(2) PHMSA data for crude oil pipelines shows 0.001 significant incidents per year per mile, so assuming the U.S. rate for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline, we would expect to see 0.001 sig spills/yr/mi x 715mi x 50yr = 36 significant spills in a 50 year lifetime.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 3, 2017 at 10:22 am

TransLink on track for record-breaking ridership

leave a comment »


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