Archive for February 2014
Press Release received from Eric Doherty via Twitter
Seniors vote needed for transit referendum win
For immediate release –Thursday February 27, 2014
Data obtained through freedom of information requests shows that people with disabilities and seniors were denied HandyDART service over 42,000 times in 2013, an eight-fold increase in four years. There were 5,075 HandyDART denials in 2009, 18,188 in 2011, 37,690 in 2012 and 42,418 in 2013.
“Other folks in society are sentenced to house arrest for committing a crime,” says HandyDART Riders Committee spokesperson and former Vancouver City Councillor Tim Louis. “We have committed no crime and yet are sentenced to house arrest when demand for rides outstrips capacity to provide rides because politicians won’t make transit funding a priority.”
HandyDART service was increased by about 5% annually to meet growing demand between 2002 and 2008. However, 2013 service hours were slightly lower than in 2008.
“HandyDART service levels have been frozen for five years while the population of older seniors and people with disabilities has grown dramatically” says transportation planner Eric Doherty the author of the 2013 report Metro Vancouver’s Aging Population and the Need for Improved HandyDART Service. “The number of people over 70 in Metro Vancouver will increase by 40% in the next decade.”
The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance says that three 80,000 hour increases, each costing about $7 million or 0.5% of TransLink’s present budget to operate, is needed to catch up after five years without an increase. After that, smaller regular increases will be needed to keep up with growing demand.
The provincial government has delayed transit improvements, including HandyDART service increases, pending a transit funding referendum likely to be held in June 2015. The TransLink Mayors council will apparently be setting the HandyDART service levels to be voted on, although the provincial government has not released details of promised governance changes.
HandyDART is a door-to-door transit service for people with disabilities and older seniors who cannot use the regular transit system for at least some trips.
“Seniors like me vote. The transit funding referendum likely won’t pass unless we can vote to meet the needs of an aging population, including better HandyDART service” says Elsie Dean, a HandyDART Riders’ Alliance member. “It is time to make the investments in public transit, including HandyDART, needed to make Metro Vancouver a livable and age friendly region.”
The newly-formed HandyDART Riders’ Alliance is open to HandyDART riders and allies. The group will be holding their first public meeting and electing board members on Saturday March 1st 1:30 to 3:30 at the 411 Seniors Centre, #704-333 Terminal Ave. Vancouver (5 min east from Main Street SkyTrain station).
Metro Vancouver’s Aging Population and the Need for Improved HandyDART Service was commissioned by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1724 and is available from http://www.ecoplanning.ca/selected-projects. ATU Local 1724 also commissioned the FOI requests described above: Trip Denials http://ecoplanning.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/FOI-Release-2014-009-1-2013-Denials-Refusals.pdf & http://ecoplanning.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/FOI-Release-2013-179-Denials-2008-12.pdf HandyDART Service Hours http://ecoplanning.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/FOI-Release-2014-012-2-Service-Hours-02-13.pdf
I took this graphic from Moving in a Livable Region. In a discussion recently with Ken Hardie I had asked about this statistic. So when at the Andrew Coyne event someone handed me a card from this web site I thought I should check it out. This is some information there – just not nearly enough. This chart has a link to the Translink web site but the page it links to is not found, which comes as no suprise. I think there is definitely a real need for data to be easy to find and have a credible source. I suspect given the years that the data represents this comes from the Trip Diary Survey. And I suspect it is based on all trips region wide, since so often with transit the figure that gets quoted is journey to work – since the census was a reliable source for time series and the sample size was huge. And it was easy to do comparisons to other city regions in Canada.
The figure I have in mind is the target that was set for transit mode share: 17%. Trouble is I cannot now remember the year it was assigned to. Was that 2011 or 2021?
I found this image on the Ministry’s flickr account. This won an award – not for the design (though it should) but for Construction Management and Supervision Services.
I have often written on this blog about roundabouts – and why they must never be confused with traffic circles. This is Highway 5 and Clearwater Valley Road. I will need to go find out on Google exactly where that is as the MoTI have not provided a map reference.
All the info you need is here as a pdf
Upcoming event at Richmond City Hall, which I will be unable to attend
On Thursday, May 15, Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, will explain how cities influence how we feel, behave, and treat other people in ways most of us never realize. Preceding this talk will a brief performance by the Indigenous vocal ensemble, M’Girl.
All events will be held at Richmond City Hall Council Chambers, located at 6911 No. 3 Road at 7 p.m. They are free to the public and seating is limited.
To RSVP, please email lulu (at) richmond.ca .
Since 2003, The Lulu Series: Art in the City has presented international, national and regional speakers including acclaimed artists, architects, urban planners and other cultural leaders. From urban planning and placemaking to art as community development and urban revitalization, The Lulu Series: Art in the City explores the relationship between art and our urban environment.
For more information, visit www.richmond.ca/luluseries
The Canadian Press report found on the CBC web page says that the issue includes retirement benefit cuts
The workers, members of Local 378, say the employer is demanding contract concessions and wants to cut retirement benefits.
Local vice-president Heather Lee calls company demands mean spirited and unfair.
There follows a reference to Medical Services Premiums, and probably does not include the increase announced in today’s budget. The MSP revenue has increased 60% since 2001.
As a retiree from the BC Public Service I saw my retirement benefits cut in 2012. Up until then MSP was paid by the employer. Of course since this was applied to people who had already retired, no-one threatened strike action no matter how mean spirited and unfair this was. At the same time Blue Cross increased the rates it levied for extended health care. And as for “Fair Pharmacare” I have never seen a red cent from them. I do dutifully tot up all the receipts on my income tax return, of course.
And of course there was no coverage of this at that time in any of the mainstream media – though retirees got an insulting letter from the powers that be reassuring us that the value of our pension had been preserved. The fact that we saw an increase in our expenses with no other choice but to pay was not mentioned.
I do not know if CMBC staff are covered by the same pension plan as Translink staff. And it may be that my situation is different having joined BC Transit from the civil service.
I also expect the usual right wing nonsense that pubic servants deserve much worse pensions since the private sector has been stealing pensions from their employees for years (to pad corporate profits and executive bonuses) and getting away with it.
I have been very pleased to see the Guardian add a section on Cities, and I am finding the articles posted there very informative. For instance Alex Steffen writing about affordability and his prescription – build lots of houses. This morning there is a wide reaching review of how transportation defines cities which is written by Colin Marshall who hails from Seattle and thinks London is defined by The Tube. It is an easy mistake for an American to make, and is about as misguided as a Londoner thinking that New York is defined by its subway. He does have a very interesting overview and a wide range of samples, and makes some good points. But both London (and New York) rely very heavily on a much wider network than their inner urban mass transit systems.
The tube, in London, serves mostly the northwestern quadrant – as is apparent from Harry Beck’s geographically distorted diagram. This is the original from the 1930’s. Bank Station – at the centre of the City is over to the right. Note the position of the Thames relative to most of the network. The District Line through East London is not shown as a line, merely a list of stations.
The historical reason for this is that the mainline railway that served this quadrant was initially not very interested in operating suburban services as it made much more money from long distance trains. Including boat trains to Liverpool that connected to liners to New York, as well as the premium Scottish expresses. The tube was originally built by entrepreneurs looking to make money, and what they found was that the short lines under the central area were not long enough to be profitable and cost a great deal to construct. The companies became profitable when they extended out into the fields which could then be built over with houses for commuters. The first underground line (The Metropolitan Railway) was extended in tunnels to Wembley and then out to Amersham and beyond on the surface. Many of the connections into Central London were made by tacking existing branch lines onto the tube. In Beck’s map above the Central Line stops at Liverpool Street. The service now goes out far into Essex on former GE branch lines – and a new tube under Wanstead built just before the war and uncompleted in 1939 which became a factory until hostilities ceased.
There is only one tube line through South London (the Northern Line). That is because the Southern Railway and its antecedents had much less long distance traffic but were early adopters of electrification for the dense network of lines that radiate out from the series of terminals built to serve both the City (to the East) and the West End. The even built their own tube to connect Waterloo to the City (known as the drain and only relatively recently incorporated into the Underground network).
The main line railways were not allowed to build into the City itself, and were kept in a ring along City Road (under which the Met was built). For the Great Eastern (the same company that built what became to be BC Rail) the need for a larger terminal nearer the City meant they wanted to redevelop a notorious slum called the Jago. As a condition of being allowed to demolish that warren of extremely dense – and very unhealthy – housing, they had to provide workmen’s fares at low cost to allow the displaced to relocate to new suburbs in places like Walthamstow and Leytonstone.
London began to sprawl long before there were motorcars. Development stretched out into the country along the railway lines, railway stations became the centre of towns that grew up around them. In the interwar period with the construction of new faster roads for cars and as unemployment relief – the Great West Road, Eastern Avenue – this development started filling in. Instead of the “beads on a string” pattern of the railway towns, there was “ribbon development’. In the period when people were tasked with thinking out what would happen to London after the Luftwaffe were stopped from flattening so much of it, the idea was to prevent this continuous urban area by specifying a Green Belt. The current boundary of Greater London lies within that Green Belt, which marks the limits of how far the ribbons of sprawl had reached by 1939. Post war there were to have been New Towns, that would be both free standing and self sufficient – providing employment to reduce the need for commuting. That did not work out. Basically the suburbs leapt over the Green Belt and kept on going. Boxmoor (see below) is in Hemel Hempstead – near the station – and has a very fast service into Euston that I used to commute on just before I left for Toronto.
One of the stupidest decisions made by the self serving Governor of New Jersey was cancelling the railway tunnel that would have relieved congestion between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan. Penn Station (now hidden beneath Madison Square Garden) is not just the busiest in New York – it is one of busiest passenger terminals in North America. Grand Central is not far behind. Manhattan lies at the heart of a huge megalopolis and depends on railway services to the surrounding region. It would be impossible for the downtown towers to work as employment centres if those people all tried to drive to work. Though Robert Moses did his best to try and accomplish that.
In both Central London and Manhattan most of the people there during the day got there on trains. In the case of London those trains come from an ever widening ring of urban areas – as train speeds have been increased and services improved. I used to think that getting a seat for a 25minute ride into Waterloo so that I could read on my commute was about optimal. Many others travel further and longer. Lord Olivier famously commuted from Brighton (about an hour – and at one time you could get kippers for breakfast on a Pullman train). Those commuters might need to add a short tube ride from a terminal like Paddington (as you will need to if you decide to use Heathrow Express to get into town from the airport) or Liverpool Street. The current construction of CrossRail is designed to reduce the congestion on that route.
For many people the tube is something to avoid. You do not have to suffer from claustrophobia to find the crowding and depth of the station platforms a deterrent. Fortunately there are always alternatives. In fact in Central London it is nearly always quicker to walk than travel between adjacent stations – or even three or four stops. Especially if a change of lines is needed. The need for a rapid increase in transit capacity created by the congestion charge lead to a huge improvement in bus services. For visitors, I would recommend that using a combination of Boris Bikes, buses and walking is going to be a much nicer experience than the tube – especially at Rush Hour (actually several hours).
When I wrote this I had not seen this article in The Independent ” twice as many people ride the bus each day as the Tube” by the Labour spokesperson on infrastructure.