Category Archives: Toronto

Vancouver Province column: Why don’t we hear more rumblings of desire for new streetcar systems?

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

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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, Cascadia, Commuting, Heritage, Media, Neighbourhoods, Seattle, Toronto, Tourism, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver Province Columns

Mercer Consulting: Best cities for… wait for it… quality of living

The cities rankings continues — this one from Mercer Consulting.
It’s a bit more serious-minded that Monocle’s, and geared for those who are uprooting for work.

Some survey highlights:

“European cities dominate the rankings of locations with the best quality of living, according to Mercer’s 2008 Quality of Living survey. Zurich retains its 2007 title as the highest ranked city, followed jointly by Vienna (2), Geneva (2), then Vancouver (4) and Auckland (5).

The highest entry for the United States is Honolulu, appearing at number 28. The cities with the lowest quality of living ranking are Ndjamena (211), Khartoum (212), Brazzaville (213), and Bangui (214). Baghdad, ranking 215, retains its position at the bottom of the table.

The survey also identified those cities with the highest personal safety ranking based on internal stability, effectiveness of law enforcement and relationships with other countries. Luxembourg was top, followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, all equally placed at number 2. Chicago, Houston and San Francisco are noted amongst the safest cities in the US, all ranking at 53. Baghdad (215) was the world’s least safe city followed by Kinshasa (214), Karachi (213), Nairobi (212) and Bangui (211).

The rankings are based on a point scoring index, which sees Zurich scoring 108, while Baghdad scores 13.5. Cities are ranked against New York as the base city which has an index score of 100.”

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Filed under Culture, Environment, Green Space, Health, Immigration, Industry, Montreal, New York, Real Estate, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Toronto, Transportation, Urban Planning

World’s best cities for business according to Mastercard Worldwide research

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

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Filed under Hong Kong, Industry, London, Los Angeles, Media, New York, Osaka, Tokyo, Toronto, Trade

North Americans want high-speed rail

Make no doubt about it: In North America (and indeed globally), rail is hot. One need look no further than Metro Vancouver, and its three new commuter rail lines slated for the next decade, for proof.

High-speed rail, at least in theory, is hotter.

But since the industry’s glory days in Canada and the US, it’s North America that has become the laggard. Asia and Europe have embraced modern rail. And there’s no hint of a anything approaching the Shinkansen adorning the landscape between Los Angeles and New York, or Vancouver and Montreal.

Part of this is a function of culture: North America is still a car culture. But more importantly, it’s a function of geography. The continent is huge, and bullet trains are monumentally expensive to build and maintain.

They require densities that few regions can approach — except for metropolises like Paris or Shanghai. In the case of Japan, a variety of bullet trains serve the Tokyo-Osaka corridor — since the two megacities weigh in with populations of 32 and 19 million, repectively.

But at least people on -this- side of the Pacific, and Atlantic, are talking about it. Ontario and Quebec are once again talking about a fast train running between Toronto and Montreal — and extending as far as Quebec City in the east, and Windsor in the west.

Perhaps more realistically, there is also renewed talk in the state of California about a San Francisco to Los Angeles high-speed railroad. But a combination of environmental and economic factors could make this one achievable, as pointed out by the East Bay Express.

“It’s the perfect storm right now,” said San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, citing concern about global warming coupled with the rising cost of gasoline-dependent auto and air travel. As chairwoman of the legislative High-Speed Rail Caucus and one of the project’s two chief legislative advocates, Ma is actively recruiting support. “As I’m going around the state, people are sick and tired of sitting in gridlock and going to the airport two hours ahead of time,” Ma said. “I think voters will pass this overwhelmingly.”

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Filed under Environment, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, Transportation

Globe: Reverse commuters represent shift in land use

Interesting to read in today’s Globe and Mail that reverse commuting is turning into a bigger phenomenon than previously thought. According to the article, and contrary to some perceptions — people are still flocking to the suburbs. However, the well-heeled are setting up shop in the urban core — to the extent that transit lines and roadways leaving the city are as congested as those coming in.

What’s really staggering is the level of economic activity and job creation happening in the suburbs, however.

New immigrants are flocking to Canada’s major urban areas but, unlike Mr. McWilliams, they’re choosing to live in the suburbs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. They’re not only finding cheaper housing but a large pool of potential employers, who have been moving offices and factories to more available land in the suburbs.

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Filed under Montreal, Toronto, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver