25 May 2009 05:22
This Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will travel to Portland to speak at the Cascadia Rail Partnership Conference — a gathering of transport pundits, policy wonks and politicians focused on bringing high-speed rail to the corridor stretching between Vancouver and Eugene, Ore.
The group should be especially energized, thanks to last month’s funding announcement by U.S.
President Barack Obama — pledging $8 billion for high-speed rail along major population corridors, including the Pacific Northwest.
But frustrated Vancouverites stuck in airport queues or traffic jams en route to the U.S. West Coast would be wise not to envision themselves rocketing down the I-5 corridor in a Shinkansen bullet train just yet. Continue reading
It is astonishing that a long-awaited second passenger train connecting Vancouver to Seattle is still in serious limbo.
Why the hold-up? The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) wants $1,500 per day from Amtrak to serve this train. Not surprisingly, the U.S. rail operator refuses to cave to their financial demands.
British Columbians should be furious. Afterall, $3 million of their tax dollars helped provide extra rail capacity for this initiative. Continue reading
January 26, 2009
Last week’s inauguration of Barack Obama has not only raised the hopes of those looking for a major shift in United States foreign policy, it has also changed expectations for that country’s urban and transportation policy.
The president-elect, the thinking goes, will be looking to stimulate the economy by investing in major infrastructure projects in cities — including those devoted to public transport such as railways. Canada’s politicians would be wise to follow that lead.
Rail travel — while long neglected in this country — is now being recognized as a smart alternative to worsening road congestion. Compared to automobile or even air traffic, it also makes good environmental sense, producing less carbon emissions. Which makes it hard to understand the sorry state of inter-city passenger rail in this region.
Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Environment, Japan, Osaka, Politics, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation
September 29, 2008
Whether you agree with her political philosophy or not, you have to give Elizabeth May full marks for making plenty of noise during this fall’s federal election.
The leader of the federal Green Party has made history — and headlines — by elbowing her way into the upcoming televised leaders debates.
More recently, May kicked off an old-fashioned, cross-country whistle stop train tour in Vancouver that attracted lots of positive buzz.
Her eight-province journey was the first of its kind since former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker traversed the country by train in the 1960s.
While May’s campaign adventure has captured the imagination of nostalgic Canadians, and a handful of rail geeks, it also put the spotlight on a previously ignored mode of transport.
Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Environment, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns
Monday, July 07, 2008
With gas prices hovering at an all-time high and the B.C. carbon tax in full swing, more and more Lower Mainland drivers are looking to get rid of their car keys in favour of a transit pass.
But there’s just one catch: For many folks, public transport doesn’t yet go where they need it to.
Others are being scared off by the sight of commuters being packed into SkyTrain cars and trolley buses like canned sardines.
It’s clear that demand for mass transit has never been greater, but capacity is being stretched like never before.
So, given current transit limitations, it’s always good to hear of plans for greater service. One such addition in the works is the downtown Vancouver streetcar. Continue reading
Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, Cascadia, Commuting, Heritage, Media, Neighbourhoods, Seattle, Toronto, Tourism, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver Province Columns
Monday, March 31, 2008
Road trips to Seattle, Portland and other Pacific Northwest destinations have long been popular with British Columbians hankering for some fun and recreation south of the 49th parallel. But given the dreadfully long lineups at border crossings in the Lower Mainland, perhaps they’d be better off flying to Toronto or Montreal instead for that out-of-town weekend adventure.
After all, getting there by air might at least be faster than joining the queue of Washington-bound cars at the Peace Arch crossing on a typical Saturday morning.
Filed under Academia, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Entertainment, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver Province Columns
Monday, May 28, 2007
Vancouver’s proposed streetcar network has taken another small step forward recently, to the surprise of those who had written it off as dead.
A three-kilometre section of the line, linking Granville Island to Science World along False Creek’s south shore, has just been given the green light by City Hall.
With the necessary financing in place, at least a portion of the $60-million line should be ready to ride before the 2010 Winter Olympics. Continue reading