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
Osaka air link cancellation will sever vital economic tie for B.C.
Derek Moscato: Podium
Business in Vancouver July 29-August 4, 2008; issue 979
At first blush, this past spring’s announcement from Air Canada that it would be cancelling its direct flight between Vancouver and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport might have seemed like a minor setback for a handful of frequent flyers and would-be tourists on both sides of the Pacific.
High fuel costs have ushered in a tough new era for airlines globally. Volatile economic times mean that cutbacks at airlines across North America are the new norm.
As for Air Canada’s service between Vancouver International Airport and Osaka, while it’s true that the route did a brisk business, it didn’t exactly garner a reputation for attracting the kind of premium business that would fatten a carrier’s bottom line. Besides, Osaka has always played second-fiddle to Tokyo, Japan’s largest city. Continue reading
Filed under British Columbia, Education, Industry, Japan, Media, Osaka, Politics, Tourism, Trade, Transportation, Vancouver
Earlier this week, MasterCard Worldwide released its annual survey of “the global economy’s most influential cities”. Read on…
MasterCard Worldwide Research Highlights Growing Role of Asian and Eastern European Cities in the Global Economy
London remains the global economy’s most influential city, according to the 2008 MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index™, an annual research initiative designed to evaluate and rank how major cities compare in performing critical functions that connect markets and commerce around the world. The future, however, appears to belong to Asia and Eastern Europe, whose cities represent the fastest rising regions within the Index.
Shanghai had the largest jump in overall rank – moving eight spots from 2007 to 2008 – bringing it into the top 25 of this year’s Index and demonstrating the growing importance of Asian cities to a progressively urbanized global economy. Moscow, a gateway for the fast- growing Eastern European region, showed the greatest improvement in actual Index score and had the most significant gain on London year-over-year. Continue reading
A colleague of mine has alerted me to the the momentum, quite literally, of the super high-speed magnetically levitated (maglev) train in Japan. In test runs to date, the maglev train has reached speeds of over 500 km/hour.
In fact, we can expect to see a push on this file from the Japanese government in early December. Earlier this year, Central Japan Railway announced plans to set up a service between Tokyo and Osaka before 2025.
To put this all into perspective, in the early 1960s, rail service between Tokyo and Osaka was 8 hours duration. The Shinkansen service then brought that time down to 4 hours, and more recently, just over 2 hours. But the maglev line would shave off another full hour, whisking passengers between the two mega-cities in a mere sixty minutes.
In an article on the subject from this past summer, the Asahi Shimbun puts the cost of the project at 8 to 10 trillion yen — a staggering sum of money that would make this the world’s most expensive infrastructure project.
Interestingly, it would give airlines serving that corridor a run for their money.
San Francisco carries a reputation for culinary excellence, but this journalist found an equal, if not superior foodie culture in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city.
Osaka, like San Francisco, considers itself a food town. Both are port cities open to culinary crosscurrents from all over the world. Both have a large working population who eat out all the time, and both are strongest in mid-priced restaurants and street food.
When I got back to San Francisco, I missed the civility of Osaka, the efficiency of the train system, the impeccable service in hotels and department stores, and the safety of the streets. At home, food suddently tasted too sweet, salty and sour. I realized that I had been eating a mid-range palate of flavors with very little oil and fat, and drinking a wine, sake, whose highest attributes are balance, smoothness and a delicate aroma evocative of pure water. In comparison, Western food and drink felt like a sensual assault.
Osaka: The “kitchen” of Japan