Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Campbell

BC Transit offers Hydrogen Buses for sale

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BC Transit 1000

I saw this story on the CBC News last night so that’s where I am linking to. It gets picked up by the paywalled press too, of course, but what I think is interesting about this version is the commentary from Eric Denhoff President and CEO of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association..

While these buses may have saved some greenhouse gas emissions, the admission that the hydrogen had to be trucked from Quebec offsets that a bit. Hydrogen is of course freely available everywhere: extracting it, packing and shipping it is, of course the expensive bit, and itself consumes lots of energy. And the trucks which drove back and forth across the continent were diesel powered. There is also a plant in North Van which vents hydrogen it produces as a byproduct which is not clean enough for the finicky fuel cells.

What annoys me about the web version of this story is that is misses the correct attribution of responsibility. The TV news had quite a bit about the decision by Gordon Campbell to buy these buses and have them run in Whistler during the Olympics. It also mentioned the complete failure of the “hydrogen highway” that he announced with Arnold Schwarzenegger that never materialized.

The Province always has money for these ribbon cutting, PR fluff type projects. Obviously just not enough money for Whistler’s transit system to keep running the things. There is never enough money to run transit in BC but every so often they go all loopy and buy a bunch of white elephants. Several different iterations of CNG buses wished on to Vancouver before they got one that actually worked reliably. Even though the emissions from diesel buses fitted with mandatory control equipment now equal the tailpipe performance of CNG. Not that there is much wrong with air quality in Vancouver.

It is also worth noting that the CBC web version mentions that there is a Plan B if BC Transit can’t find a buyer, which I would think is the most likely outcome.

NOTE This post has been corrected after correspondence from Eric Denhoff (April 28, 2015)

Freeways now, transit some day – maybe:

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Earlier this week there had been speculation that the Premier would use his UBCM speech to make some significant commitment to transit. Well, sorry, but in terms of the $3 billion being spent on highway expansion, $50 m for buses (which is not new money but has been announced sveral times already – just not actually delivered) does not get anywhere near “significant” or even “balanced”. Tomorrow he has to sit down next to Al Gore and David Suzuki. That is about as near to being “green” as he is going to get. He will be at the same table, but he lives on a different planet.

LRC Press Release below

Good words from Premier, but blacktop politics trumps climate action
September 28, 2007

For Immediate Release
Vancouver

The Livable Region Coalition learned today that the Premier can talk the talk but is still allowing blacktop politics to trump climate change. In his speech at the UBCM, Premier Campbell announced some strong potential initiatives to tackle climate change but fell far short in addressing the largest source of emissions- transportation.

“The Premier has shown us today that he knows how to talk a good game on climate change but when it comes to the hard work he doesn’t yet have what it takes. The firmest commitment he made today was to move ahead with the most expensive freeway expansion in provincial history that will increase greenhouse gas emissions, yet we were only offered a vague promise of a transit plan, sometime,” said David Fields, campaigner with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation. “Single-occupancy vehicles get the goods but the rest of us are left waiting for the bus.”

“The Premier promised to make BC a global leader in transit yet reaffirmed his plans to spend billions on freeway expansion – he is headed in entirely the wrong direction. World class transit systems have come about by giving existing road space over to transit and by making it the easiest option. In Metro Vancouver, the transportation system already heavily favours the car,” said Eric Doherty. “The first step to solving a problem is to stop spending money to make it worse. Hold off on car infrastructure and go with transit first.”

“We’re still miles behind where other Canadian cities are with regard to transit investment” said Deming Smith, transportation demand management specialist and coalition member “In Toronto and Montreal nearly one quarter of all daily trips are taken on transit. In the Vancouver region that percentage slips to about 12 percent. “This is not because people in those other cities like transit more than we do,” said Deming Smith of the LRC, “but rather it reflects the fact that those other jurisdictions have invested more in transit than we have. Everyone recognizes that the demand for transit exists here. Yet the per capita supply is woefully inadequate, especially in comparisons to other cities.”

UBC transportation professor Dr. Lawrence Frank previously commented on the Gateway program and Campbell’s climate change policies: “There aren’t many nations in the world that will say their contribution to Kyoto is through expanding their highway system,” he said.

The Premier did re-announce a commitment to build the Evergreen Line but no dates or money were given. California tailpipe emissions standards and less carbon intensive fuels also formed a part of the Premiers speech on climate change as well as incentives for hybrid cars. Rounding out transportation initiatives was a re-announcement of $50 million for public transit to be shared around the province.

A Metro Vancouver study has already shown it is feasible to reduce GHG emissions by 45 per cent by 2020 with strategic investment in transit. The Livable Region Coalition have promoted a better transit solution for the Highway 1 corridor that includes increased capacity on SkyTrain and the implementation of a Surrey-Coquitlam Bullet that would cross the existing Port Mann Bridge using priority measures. In fact, an express bus service across the Port Mann Bridge was to be completed this year, according to the TransLink 3 year plan, but has been stopped by the aggressive push for the Gateway Program.

The transit first approach would have congestion and emissions reductions measures in place within 2 years whereas the Gateway Program would delay transit improvements for at least seven years.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 28, 2007 at 3:10 pm