Sunday, May 29, 2005

The French say 'Non' to EU constitution

The French electorate's rejection - French say 'Non' to EU constitution from The Star
Euro Declines After French Voters Reject EU Constitution from

of the EU's proposed constitution is hardly a surprise. I'll admit that I haven't read the document - nor do I care to do so. Apparently, it is a voluminous document - the PDF file is 1 Megabyte or so. I wonder how many voters actually read and understood the whole thing.

My instinctive reaction would be to reject the proposal based on its size alone. A constitution should be a simple document that the common man can understand. This having been said, the rejection may well be a body blow to the French and continental economies that they are not in any shape to take. The French economy is a frightful state. If I were French, I may well have voted 'Oui' out of fear of the economic repercussions.

However, the French voters who turned thumbs down on the proposal appear to have done so for other reasons. Left wingers seem to have felt that the proposal might lead to a more 'anglo'-type economic model (i.e. a model of reasonable economic growth and opportunities for employment - Quel Horreur!.)

Monday, May 23, 2005 - Grown-up city ready to borrow family car

The latest in The Star's propaganda campaign for a 'New Deal for Cities': - Grown-up city ready to borrow family car

The analogy is a weak one. Let's not forget that the city's power to raise the commerical and industrial mill rate (i.e. property taxes) was taken away for a good reason: the rates were too high. Not only that, they still are.

It's troubling - although not surprising- that The Star is suggesting that the lifting of this restriction be the first 'installment' of the new powers for the city. This is akin to suggesting that a bottle of Jack Daniels be the first gift for a recovering alcoholic.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Spadina Subway extension - a good idea?

It's been a quiet week or so on the Toronto scene. Perhaps the fuss going on in the nation's capital has drowned out local goings on.

Regardless, there are some Toronto issues that are always simmering on in the background - an example being the proposal/plan/wish to extend the Spadina subway line north and west to York University and beyond.

Now, no one who's been stuck up in that corner of the city could argue that it hasn't significant traffic problems. However, the real traffic problem appears to be caused by freight traffic. The area is home to many warehouses. It's close to the airport, the 401, 427, 407 and 409 highways. Conversely, there are few significant residential or commercial office concentrations. Other than the presence of York University itself, the area appears to be a poor fit for a subway.

Rather that buidling a tube to carry people to and from the corner of the city, a batter idea may be to build tubes to carry freight. The type of industries and warehouse facilities in the area would seem ideal for the implementation of a system of automated freight guideways that would run underground.

The benefit of moving freight underground (as opposed to people) is that freight tunnels do not require the same environmental controls as do people-moving subways.

Palleted freight could be moved by automated electric vehicles - programmed to moved from origin to destination. This system would greatly reduce the number of LTL (less than trialerload) movements. This would save siginificant energy and labour expenses. The potential savings for businesses might even mean that the contruction could be privately financed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Spadina chickens come home to roost

The Globe had a rare moment of originality this past weekend - publishing the results of an analysis of how well the TTC's vaunted (by them) Spadina "LRT" line is working.

The Globe and Mail: Rapid transit? Not on Spadina

As it turns out, the line isn't a rapit transit line - just an expensive way to run the TTC's ridiculously ineffective streetcar vehicles. Neither speed nor passenger volumes have increased since the line went into service. The TTC can pretend all it likes that this it's streetcar system is a light-rail system, but even light-rail booster Greg Gormick isn't buying:

We have to decide whether we're doing light rapid transit or streetcars. Both are good concepts, but Spadina is neither fish nor fowl..

Well Greg - the streetcar system isn't all that great.

The TTC's Manager of Service Planning, Mitch Stambler reponds:

"We have emphasized over and over again that on Spadina or St. Clair or any other route where we're looking to establish a right of way, it's not an issue of speed," he says. "Service reliability and regularity matter first and foremost."

I guess Stambler follows the theory that if one is caught with one's pants down, that one is best make up the most outrageous lie you can think of, and hope that people are so dumbfounded they can't respond.

The only problem is that service reliability on the Spadina line is poor. The CLRV vehicle has exceptionally slow loading/unloading - especially when busy. This causes big problems with vehicles bunching up. I've used the Spadina line twice in the last few months - both in peak when vehicle headway should be three or four minutes. Instead, I've waited 10+ minutes in the dank, crampled waiting space at Union - before two vehicles showed up.

Now what would life be like if the TTC really got serious about running proper light-rail vehicles as part of a proper light-rail system?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

NIMBY runs wild

In Toronto, erveryone gets into the act - a veritable NIMBY fest.

Scarborough residents are still trying to stop - or just slow down - a subsidized housing project. This is to be on land that was supposed to be used for the Scarborough Expressway - a project long-ago killed by NIMBYism. - Housing proposal sparks protest

There's about as much chance of stopping this one as there is of stopping a devoutly religious person from attending services. As Don York of a local ratepayers group puts it:

"We cannot let religion or the term `affordable housing' stand in the way of responsible decision-making and accountability."

but that's exactly what will happen. The only reason the left-dominated council would allow hundreds of trees to be chopped down is for their Holy Grail - socialized housing.

Meanwhile, ultra-leftist councillor Pam McConnell is vowing to prevent a festival called Wakestock from being held again next year.

"But I can tell you there is no way this is going back to the Toronto Islands next year. The islands are an environmental treasure of this city. And those islands belong to all Torontonians."

Whines McConnell. I guess she means it belongs to all Torontonians other than those who wish to have a little organized fun one day during the summer. What's next - is she going to ban volleyball tournaments at Ashbridges Bay?