I try to find local stories to write about, but the “front page” story on the Sun’s web site is beneath contempt. How to blow a minor infraction into major story. Gregor Robertson – running for mayor of Vancouver – thought of fighting a ticket he had been given for crossing a fare zone boundary with a one zone ticket. The $173 fine is rather more than is usual for parking tickets. But then he changed his mind and paid up. But not before the press and Kevin Falcon seized on it like poorly trained terriors.
This week CBC radio tried to get me on the air talking about fares and fare evasion. Last time I had done that they had surprised me with a tape of a New York cop contradicting what I had just said. So I have been very wary ever since. And sure enough, in the long telephone conversation with CBC staff, not one mention was made of Gregor Robertson. They were, no doubt keen to spring that one on me on air.
The real point of the story should be “At the moment, only about 10 per cent of fare-evasion tickets are ever paid.” Now that is a story: if the fines are not collected then the size makes no difference. And since fare evaders tend to be serial offenders, and the lack of consequences is more widely understood, so fare evasion increases. Nothing to do with zones or gates at all.
Meanwhile the raft of transit positive stories out of various US ballot initiatives and propositions grows.
But in the UK much less good news, although BAA is chipping in a little to the Cross Rail scheme (and trying to get as much creidt as it can) and new London Mayor Boris Johnson has started swinging his axe at his predecessor’s favourite projects. On the positive side, the bridge between Beckton and Thamesmead has been cancelled (again). This is the equivalent of the Golden Ears Bridge: it would have replaced the free ferry at Woolwich and completed the ring formed by the North Circular and South Circular Roads.
Some odd ball quotes though.
The Guardian says: “But evidence at the inquiry showed it would encourage car use, bringing more air and noise pollution and increasing carbon emissions.
The bridge was to pass through some of Britain’s most deprived communities in east London, but leading transport analysts showed it would not bring regeneration to these areas.”
While Boris himself is quoted as saying “I have always been in favour of another crossing. But I don’t think that this idea was the right one,”
Bad news though for a number of light rail and tram schemes.
Other proposals taken off the drawing board today include the £1.3bn cross river tram; a £500m tram scheme for Oxford Street in the centre of the capital; and a £70m extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Dagenham.
The mayor also revealed plans to save £2.4bn in costs at Transport for London, including the loss of hundreds of jobs among TfL’s 22,000-strong workforce.
Boris Johnson is, of course, Conservative. And his barmy idea to resurrect the Routemaster (covered here earlier) is still alive and well.