Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Dreamliner at last

The delays that Boeing has suffered in getting its Dreamliner program up and running have been a disappointment. However, today I'm happy to congratulate Boeing and especially its engineers for the successful first test flight of the 787.

I deliver computer software systems for a living. These are complex. Our project suffer delays and must deal with risk. However, these pale in comparison to a project to design, build, test and sell a new airliner. Moreover, in the case of the Dreamliner, the company took significant risks in going with new materials.

It was fantastic to see the plane take flight, to see dreams in the process of being realised, and to see progress that will actually help people. This is pleasantly refreshing considering the idiocy unfolding in Copenhagen. The bane of humanity - scientific charlatans, Greenpeace, Mugabe, David Miller, and the Yes Men are gathered to destroy dreams.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The TTC - disaster management 101

I haven't written about the TTC for a while. With the Commission's recent approval of a large fare increase for next year - the airwaves, blogwaves etc are pulsing with outrage.

However, the fare increase should have caught no-one by surprise. The TTC - as with many city operations - has suffered from a long term history of mismanagement on all levels.

Some would say it's just the way it is - but there is real life proof from Montreal that it's possible to manage a transit system properly over the long term. Montreal proves further that the recipe for successful transit is not mindless operational spending, or streetcars - but sinply a focus on making good decisions to systematically manage costs for the general benefit.

This is all-too-clear from a simple analysis of the cost trends for the TTC and STM (Montreal's transit system) over the lasst 15 years:

This is 100% the TTC and unions fault - the costs are bloated.

In 1994, the TTC average cost per rider was $1.73
In 1994, Montreal's average cost per rider was $1.63

In 2009 (budget, the numbers are:
TTC: $2.68
Montreal $2.14

So in 15 years:
TTC costs have grow 55%
Montreal costs have grown only 31.5%

Had the TTC been properly mananged, it's cost this year would be $194 million lower.

The reason we have a system that is stalled on service and has higher fares is 100% mismanagement and unions.

$194 million A YEAR would keep fares down and finance the needed subway extensions and DRL.

The trouble is - it's only going to get worse. The costs will be going up 7% a year without service improvements.

Things are so bad that even the likes of Steve Munro - who generally dismisses anyone who talks about "value for money" without a fleeting thought - is bemoaning the prospects.

As I wrote the The Star back in 2002:

"We can have a better system - but only if the TTC management is forced to change its approach. However, if the subsidy spigots are reopened, this won't happen."

Instead, the subsidy spigots did re-open. Every last $ of extra subsidy has been flushed into higher than necessary operating costs - be they in the form of excess wages, excess staff, poor equipment and mode decisions or what have you.

Montreal has proved that this in not the inevitable co-product of running a large transit system.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A look as some Niagara wines

I've been making a habit of stopping at Niagara wineries to taste wines for almost a decade now. When I relocated to Toronto in late 1998, becoming a wine aficionado was nowhere my list of expectations. However, I didn't expect to be writing a blog either.

I first became interested in Niagara wine after reading an article about Crown Bench Estates. Crown Bench sits near the rim of the Escarpment at the top of Aberdeen. It's worth a trip for the view and for the wine as well. I haven't been by there in a few years - perhaps I will when the 2007 reds start to arrive.

So what have I learned about Niagara wines in the past decade?

1. We have as good a variety of wines and styles to taste - and taste quality - as one will find anywhere.

I've tasted in the Napa, Sonoma and Andersen Valley AVAs in California, and a little in Australia. In Australia, there is more of a regional focus - Shiraz and Semillon in hotter regions as an example. If you go to a tasting in the Hunter Valley, only a few of the wines will be local. In California, even all the way from Carneros to Anderson Valley, you'd be hard-pressed to find the same variety of varietals. Obviously, you will not find ice wine in either Australia or California.

2. Year to year variation is more pronounced here

The trade-off for variety is that our climate is not always kind to all varietals. Not only that, frost can damage vines beyond recovery.

For example, 2003 was a poor year. More than a few wineries did not bottle their usual range of offerings. Some were allowed to bend VQA rules on a temporary basis.

It's good to be aware of the vintages. 2007 is looking very promising. The LCBO's vintage chart list 2007 and the first 9-rated vintage since 1995. I have already picked up some excellent 2007's from Fielding Estate and Malivoire. Keep in mind the relatively wet summers the this year (2009) and last (2008).

3. Niagara has variety - but it is better for some varietals than others

In my experience, the wines to pay attention to are (with my favourite producers in parentheses):

- Gamay Noir (Malivoire, Feathersone, 13th Street Sandstone)
- Cabernet Franc (Laileys, Daniel Lenko, Featherstone)
- Pinor Noir (very year dependent)

- Riesling (Fielding, Cave Springs, Flat Rock)
- Chardonnay (Lenko, Crown Bench, Malivoire)

That's not to say you will not find excellent examples of Cabernt Sauvignon, Gewrurztramer - and let's not forget the hybrids Baco Noir (Henry of Pelham, Hernder Estates) and Marechal Foch (De Souza).

No Coyotes in Hamilton

I had given RIM billionaire Jim Balsillie a fighting chance to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton. In the end - right or wrong - the NHL deck was stacked against him.

Many people will blame NHL chief Gary Bettman. This is unfair. Bettman is just doing his job - which is working for the owners. The owners didn't want a Balsillie owner-team in Hamilton.

The Canadian press hates Bettman because he's an American lawyer. The dumb thing about this - Bettman is a Cornell grad. There are few fan-bases more enraptured about hockey that Cornellians.

The dumb thing about the owners is that Toronto could easily support three teams.

Consider English soccer. London - population of about 8 million - sports four of the traditional powers and contenders of English soccer. These are:

West Ham

The combined market Vallie of these clubs is around $2 billion - and they have carted home a good share of titles over the past forty years.

Now the Toronto Maple Leafs. They haven't one a title in over forty years - and are valued at a mere $312 million or so - despite a captive fan base of about 6 million.

We could easily have three teams. Following London's example, there would be more value - and some actual success on the ice.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Miller and Sunrise

David Miller recently surprised most Torontonians, and many other observers, by announcing that he will not run for a third term as mayor in next years municipal elections.

Many people are thrilled. I'm happy to see Miller depart. However, there's a huge mess left behind.

Now speaking of messes, the explosion at the Sunrise Propane facility - now a little over a year ago - made a big one. You may remember that Miller was away on vacation at the time - and decided not to come back to support Torontonians at that time.

Now what's really interesting. Stung by the criticism, Miller seems to have pushed the city into taking over the clean-up of the site. If you believe Miller, this was because Sunrise wasn't doing the clean-up. However, the company stated that they had not been allowed on site. The fire marshall would not allow access during the investigation.

Regardless, it seems that the city's rules for emergency procurement were not followed. Certain city managers can authorise emergency expenditures - without going through the normal tendering process.

However, they must report the emergency procurement to council (or the appropriate committee) at the very next meeting.

This constituent can find no record of a city manager making such a report. If so, this expenditure was not authorized.

The rush to push Sunrise out of the cleanup - and make it look like Miller was riding to the rescue - may cost the taxpayers big time when this gets to court.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Miller gives up

I must admit, I didn't see it coming. I though David Miller had a little more fight in him - and would have made a campaign out of things in the next municipal election.

However, in the end, a mayoralty that began with deception is coming to a close with one. Of course, there has been much lying in between.

The lie that started it all was the motivation behind stopping the bridge to the Toronto City Center Airport. Miller definitely had his eyes on getting the feds to cough up the land to the city for free - despite his claim that he wanted the airport to remain sleepy and little.

In reality, Miller tried to choke the airport from getting paying traffic, or funds from Ottawa. Recall Globe columnist John Barber's caterwauling over Ottawa subsidies to the airport. (We can all be grateful that Barber is off the city beat - and for the most seems to have disappeared altogether.) It's not as if Ottawa doesn't subsidize transportation agencies!

In the mean time, the city was trying to stiff the airport with a massive tax bill.

Why can't the Millerites be honest? Miller could have easily sat down with the feds and worked out a price for the airport land. His strategy was built on an obvious lie - and the feds figured out his game pretty quick. There aren't too many willing dupes around.

Now Miller begins a long mayoral swan song. I'd like to give Miller the benefit of the doubt and believe that his decision was family related. However, this strains credulity. If Miller were enjoying public adulation and the polls that would go along with it, he'd be running for re-election in a heartbeat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Iggy visits RIM - and just doesnt get it

Michael Ignatieff - now leader of the Liberal Party of Canada for three-quarters of a year or so - is beginning to show it.

Show what you might ask? Well the early onset dementia that has struck the likes of Ken Dryden and John McCallum.

Iggy toured Research in Motion (RIM) earlier this week.

RIM is the maker of the Blackberry line of smartphones. The company was initially funded by private venture capital - before offering shares to the public.

So what does Iggy have to offer after the visit - the old ideas of big government and intervention. As reported by Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post (see enclosure link)

"On Tuesday, after a visit to the Waterloo headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM), he explicitly revived the old slogans of Canadian economic nationalism, berating the Harper Tories for failing to rescue Nortel and allowing vital Nortel technology to be sold to foreigners."

How can an intelligent man tour what has been billed as the "world's fasted growing company" - one that has succeeded independent of government, and on the merits of it's people and products - and yet come up with nothing more than the worst of his party's failed old ideas.

Governments have never succeeded at information technology. Iggy should read George Gilder's account of the founding of Micron Technology. Trouble is, being in the LPC saps the old axons. I'm not sure Iggy could comprehend anymore.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Streetcar kills cyclist

Will all the hullabaloo about Michael Bryant, the fact that another Toronto cyclist has died - at the 'hands' (er I guess - at the wheels) of a TTC streetcar - has not attracted much attention. The Star didn't bother to cover this - at least there is nothing showing on its website. However, it did make the reputable news sources - such as 680 News and The National Post.

The cyclist died on Spadina. He apparently turned into the path of the streetcar that was coming through on its own phase. The implementation of the 'LRT' on Spadina is a proven disaster. It has a further drawback of being confusing for other users of the road. No doubt, the 66 year old man just didn't understand the signal system.

So - guess what. The TTC is setting up the same thing on St. Clair West - and in the proposed 'Transit City' lines. There are going to be more deaths - needless deaths. The streetcars really aren't to blame. Let's hold the LRT dogmatists to account.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Innies and Outies

If you watched the German film The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) from 2006, you'll have an inkling of of the cruel way a socialist state divides society between the 'ins' and the 'outs'.

Now this is happening in own our socialist state: The City of Toronto. In the aftermath of the civic strike earlier summer, known communist John Cartwright and his so-called Toronto and York Region Labour Council, left mayor David Miller off the invitation list for reviewing this year's labour day parade. In addition, he dis-invited a number of councillors who voted against the negotiated agreement.

This is the way of the world under socialism. Being right or wrong, be talented or untalented, voting your conscience make no difference. Everything is driven by who you know and haven't pissed off.

Mayor Miller crashed the event. In some ways, he is due credit for standing up to these bullies. On the other hand, a better idea would be to revoke the parade permit next year and put on something that is more inclusive.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bryant video sheds more info

Looks like there was a straightforward reason that Michael Bryant was driving on the wrong side of the road - there was a construction crew blocking the road.

Now, the city does need to rebuild each roadway periodically - but there is no sane reason that Bloor has to be such a mess, and for that matter, for such an extended period.

Could this be just another Millerite schemes to purposely block traffic? If so, is it Harvard grad David Miller to blame for the death rather that Harvard-man Bryant?

The biggest scandal appears to be that the deceased was wanted on scores of charges in Alberta. Yet the police let him go on his not-so-merry drunken way? What do the Toronto police do these days anyway?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tragedy on Bloor

I'm not a big fan of Michael Bryant - he being a former cog in the 'What haven't we banned yet' McGuinty government. Just so he could be in the game, Bryant decided to ban pit bull dogs. Wow - I feel so much safer.

From all reports, it seems that Bryant just lost it. However, just put yourself in his shoes.

You're driving with your wife when an intoxicated cyclist decides to pick a fight with you - and grabs onto your headrest and wont let go. How would you react? I'm not sure.

Unfortunately, in Hogtown, this scenario is all too likely. For the most part, we no longer suffer the squeegee kid curse to the same degree. However, all the squeegee kids from years back seem to have graduated to being belligerent, angry, law-breaking bicycle couriers.

I'm quite an avid cyclist. I must say, only about 20% of the 'good' cyclists obey any type of traffic law. The average bicycle courier is far worse.

Now where is Howard Moscoe to help us out by regulating these vagabonds?

More on green bin muck

Fresh off launching a libel suit against The Toronto Star, the city is "re-introducing" it's green bin program. OK - technically, it's a city official who is suing the paper. If you believe that, maybe you'd like to buy some investments from Bernie Madoff?

Our cash-strapped municipality has sprung for full-page ads in local papers. For example, see The Mirror dated August 28th.

So the city needs to reintroduce the bins? I don't think most people need that - there are plenty of odorous reminders. Strike or no strike, things can get pretty stinky in Hogtown towards garbage day - given a little heat and a paucity of breeze.

The ads remind people what items should not be placed in the green bins. Among these are:

- dead animals,
- carpets, and
- clothing

hmm - someone must have gone to a fair bit of effort to fit a carpet of any size in a green bin.

Now - dead animals - why not? They are completely organic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The muck flies in Hogtown

Fueled by taxpayer funds, city official Geoff Rathbone has filed a libel suit against The Toronto Star. The paper and the city are are odds over the actual percent of solid waster diversion the city has attained as a result of implementing the green bin organics program.

The Star's article and associated links show numerous instances where city documents state or strongly imply that the green bins are diverting 30% of solid waste - i.e. that would otherwise be landfilled.

It seems clear to me that the 30% claim is a sham - and the actual figure is much lower. However, I can't see that The Star has impugned Rathbone. (Not to say that the article aren't the typical Toronto Star smear job/collection of half truths.)

This lawsuit is nothing more than a political move my David Miller. I'd really like to know how much pressure Rathbone was placed under to file this suit.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why do we need The Toronto Star?

In the past week or so, I've concluded that The Toronto Star has outlived any residual use it might have had to society.

This 'newspaper' - which has always been left-leaning - has at least served to inform on local news and content. However, these days, not only do the so-called national papers often to beat The Star to the punch, they offer more in depth analysis.

For example, The National Post beat The Star in reporting on this:


by a whole day - published on August 20th.

The Star's article:


came out the following day.

Not only that, the Post's article is better written. The Post opened the story up for reader comments, while The Star (as is all too often the case) did not.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Best Burgers> - Biggie Burgers

I know that cottage-bound escapees from Hogtown often stop by Weber's haburger stand on a few miles North of Orillia. These are excellent hamburgers.

However, if you happen to drive through Newmarket along Mullock Drive (first Newmarket exit when heading North on 404 - and a good alternative to the 401 and 407 if you need to stop / shop for anything on your way up), there is a small mall with a Tim Hortons and a supermarket.

Tucked in the far corner is Biggie Burgers. This is purely a one-off. As far as I can tell, it is part of no chain. Whenever I've eaten there, the owner (I presume) is dutifully hamburgers and other fare - fresh. There are but three or four tables - and a bench for seating.

For a small establishment, the menu is quite extensive - so the non-burger consumers are not left hungry. On my last visit, one of the staff explained that they take all of the pictures of the food themselves.

Anyway, it's more than worth a stop - great food made with care, and clean and friendly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canadian Tire $$$ - Is it worth it?

I've been collecting Canadian Tire money since - well since I started shopping at Canadian Tire. This has never been a concerted effort. Now that I have a Canadian Tire store that's handy - yes one of those 'terrible' big box stores at Leslie and Lakeshore - I seem to have more of this 'currency' floating around.

Well, as of a few minutes ago, the bills are not longer floating around - they have been corralled in a big paper clip. I realise that I use a credit card for large purchases - which has reduced the amount of coupons I have collected. However, I still only have about $12 worth. This isn't worth the effort. I shall be using this paltry amount to replenish the bird feed supply. Henceforth, I'll use my credit card for all purchases.

The credit card keeps track of my loyalty on a computer somewhere - instead of requiring me to collect and sort pieces of paper. There is already plenty of paper in my abode.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fire, Fire

Yes - another big, suspicious fire in a Toronto business. I wish this were not surprising. The trouble is - given Toronto's massive tax rates on commercial and industrial property - when a business gets in trouble, burning it down is the only way out.

Now, insurance fraud is illegal - and I'm not making accusations or condoning it. However, it does happen. A few years ago, a prominent establishment in the Beach burned down to nothing. This happened during the reconstruction of the streetcar tracks on Queen - making access by fire trucks difficult. Now that's suspicious.

Nothing has been done to build anew on the site either.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A little rain - a lot of garbage

It was bright and sunny early this morning when I dragged a very full green bin out to the curb. Some of my neighbours had brought out their own bins the night before. This pleased the raccoon population - but did result in quite a mess.

It did occur to me that the system of bins - especially the green bin - did in a measure, help Torontonians endure the strike. If we hadn't been used to sorting garbage, the longer than usual storage of 'wet' waste would have been more of a problem. Storing paper and most other non-food waste garbage is not so much of an issue.

Now, I shan't in suggest that the 'brain' trust behind the monster bins intended these to help battle the unions. The Millers and Debaermakers of this world are so deep in the pockets of the unions that they have to use a lint brush instead of a shower to clean up each day. We'd all be better off if these dimwits took a walk in this afternoon's rain - and just kept going.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This wireless world

I've been somewhat slow in adopting today's primary form of wireless telecommunications - the cellular phone. I don't actually like phones. I found it irksome when my phone rings.

Depsite that, I now have two cell phones: my own, and a phone provided by my employer. Thankfully, both work much better than my previous phone - which either thanks to Telus, or the cell phone maker, would invariably drops calls in any interior location. (Yes - even in my modest little house!.)

My personal phone is a Nokia slider (5200?) with GSM technology on the FIDO network. The work model is a Samsung - hooked up to Bell's CDMA network. Both work great indoors, and as of yesterday, both are paired with by Blueant Supertooth3 car phone set. I can voice dial on either. The only thing that's a bit of a drawback is that only one can be active at the same time.

So I'm thinking, is it time to ditch the landline?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coping with trash

I haven't contributed anything here in a while. Work has taken me out of town - away from Toronto. I have kept up-to-date with happenings - but have not had the time or inclination to write much.

Now, having been away for the better portion of the last three months, I've avoided created as much garbage at home. Coping with the CUPE strike has been fairly easy.

My neighbours were kind enough to take by garbage bin to the curb one week. It is only getting full a second time as of this week. I toyed with the idea of running some bags up to the Bermondsey Transfer Station. I drive past on the way to the office - and there has never been much of a line. However, I have better things to waste my time on. (No pun intended.)

My green bin - safely locked away from 'coon's - is pretty full. It isn't go to be a fun days for CUPE folks when they have to dump that one. Too bad.

My take on the strike and apparent settlement:

1. We should have let CUPE walks away from the table.

2. The collusion between the two locals violates competition rules. The two union leaders should be hauled up before the appropriate authorities.

3. David Miller has been an idiot. According to biographical information on Wikipedia (yes - a woeful source I know) - Miller spend formative years in pre-Thatcher England (as did your truly). It's hard to imagine anyone with an ounce of intelligence being left wing having endured the destruction of Britain under the Labourites.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The streetcar lovers - Les Aveugles

"There are none so blind as those who will not see" is a saying that - in different variants - has multiple roots. In 21st century Toronto - were this saying to be invented - it would be traced to the streetcar pushers. I don't mean the vehicles that the TTC runs out many times a day to push the a disabled streetcars along, but rather those who continue to foist - in other words "push" - these noxious, useless contraptions upon the general populace.

A dearly held falsehood among the streetcar pushers is that we (as a society) must endure the presence of these machines and their visually polluting wires, because they are magically able to carry untold numbers of passengers. The huge costs and poor service is the price we must pay to squeeze more souls along out thoroughfare.

The trouble is, it's not true - as I've written here before. Last fall this subject arose in a thread on on a the Metronauts discussion group. An individual named Karl Junkin started a discussion on subway construction. As invariably occurs, the discussion under a given post strays from the original subject - as does normal conversation for that matter.

At some point - after much discussion - I introduced the published fact that the highest 2-way achieved capacity for the TTC streetcar network - i.e. on the King St 504 route - was 3,450 pphpd (peak person per hour per direction) was about 1,700. This is documented in plan B&W in the TTC analysis of the the service on King St:

Commission Report - March 21, 2007

which states (page 9 or so) that the highest 2-way volume is 3,450 - the overall table I give here:

7-8 am: 2170
8-9 am: 3450 <==This is the high 9-10 am: 2680 3-4 pm: 1570 4-5 pm: 2860 5-6 pm: 3060 6-7 pm: 2510 Upon posting these official figures, I was subjected to replies ranging from disbelief, denial and ultimately verbal abuse. I eventually went down to King and Spadina to record the morning peak hour passenger counts. My raw data is as follows (time, count)

7:50 - 80
7:51 - 25
7:51 - 52
7:52 - 20
7:53 - 50 (ALRV)
7:54 - 15
7:55 - 28
7:58 - 85 (ALRV)
8:01 - 45
8:03 - 65
8:05 - 40
8:05 - 10
8:10 - 75
8:12 - 75
8:13 - 75
8:14 - 10

Which gives in total:

750 passengers in 16 vehicles over 25 minutes

Average = 47 passengers per vehicle
pphpd = ( 750 * 60 / 25) = 1800 ++

easily attainable y fewer regular buses than actually the number of streetcars I counted!

(++ In the earlier discussion - in my haste - I had added the figures up incorrectly to be 785.)

After I published these 1st hand counts, all hell broke lose. Mr. Junkin basically called me a liar - upon which I launched heavy barrages of well-deserved invenctive against the boy. The really good stuff was purged from the board.

The point of the mater is that:

1. The argument that we need streetcars for capacity is an out and out lie
2. The streetcar pushers are intent on hiding and denying this.

Steve Munro - chief streetcar pusher - did contact the TTC for a clarication of the published figure. To this day, they have not refuted this - and figures published by the TTC about the Queen Streetcar refute Junkin's assertions.

But these are the willfully blind. Facts, figures and logic don't seem to sway.

Recent TSO concerts

I have been lucky enough to attend two recent TSO performances.

The first was a Wednesday Masterworks with guest Midori. I saw Midori with the TSO about five years ago - and really enjoyed her playing. In the previous concert, she treated the audience to a good eight to ten minutes of Bach's Partitas as an encore.

Well - no encore in this year performance. This was quite understandable - as the Shostakovich Violin Concerto she rendered likely left little in reserve. This was a work I had never heard - live or on recording. The first movement was very slow. One of the reviewers thought it was played TOO softly. For me, that's hair splitting - long orchestral works should have different tempos in different movements. I enjoy the contrast.

The second and fourth movements were especially rousing. Midori plays masterfully. It was disappointing that there were so many empty seats (about 15% seats were not filled) - perhaps the Wednesday performances are like that.

On Saturday, it was Charles Duttoit conducting Berlioz' Damnation of Faust. This was a huge piece - with a full orchestra, multiple choirs and four solo singers. Despite it's length - and lack of a break - I enjoyed this immensely.

The only criticism is that Roy Thomson isn't set up to allow the subtitles to be projected. The audience were provided copies of the libretto. This resulted in a lot of distracting page turning. In addition, it's hard to read the page and focus on the orchestra, conductor and singers - you have to choose.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

On the buses - in Sydney

Why is there is picture of the sign at the entrance to Bondi Beach on a post about buses? Simple - because, the best way to get to Bondi Beach from the center of Sydney is by bus.

One of our mandatory outings during the stay is Sydney was to get to the famous Bondi Beach. On our first day in Sydney, we had taken the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly - and Manly Beach. Now it was time to try Bondi.

We inquired from the Sheraton-on-the-Park concierge as to how to get to Bondi. He indicated that the 381 bus - available with good frequency from the far side of Elizabeth St - would take us all the way to Bondi.

We also inquired as to the fare. To my astonishment, the concierge indicated that the bus driver would make change up to an A$20 note.

As usual, our concierge proved 100% correct. The bus came to the Elizabeth St stop along Hyde Park at the scheduled time. I passed the driver a $20 and got proof of purchase and change in return. About 40 people boarded at this and the next stop. Most were tourists headed for Bondi. The change issuance did slow the process down somewhat - but with a city full of tourists, the feature is a big plus.

The bus was clean. As with all Sydney buses that I saw, it was LNG-powered. Here in Toronto - for whatever reason - gas-powered buses proved problematic. (The TTC can make a problem out of anything.) In Sydney - obviously the transit system is happy with them.

The bus took a left to turn East. It stopped at a major bus terminal (Bondi Junction) and then headed north towards the beach. In Toronto, the TTC would insist on forcing customers to transfer three times - or worse yet, to include a streetcar ride along the way. It seems that Sydney get's it - provide a reasonable service that takes into account where people wish to travel. In Toronto, the high gods of transit insist that buses must follow the grid, and that routes (especially streetcar carrying ones) are sacrosanct.

On the way back, we boarded the 330 - and express bus. Sydney Transit had someone selling the tickets (pay before boarding) and encouraging people to get on the express.

Oh - yes. Bondi is a great beach. However, if you want a quiet day in the sun, go to Manly.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Darling Harbour - a park under an expressway

Sydney Harbour is famous for the bridge and the opera house. Nowadays, tourists can also enjoy Darling Harbour - which has been transformed from being a disused port area to being host to shops, restaurants, museums and other recreation spots.

Sydney managed all this without worryng about the elevated expressway that runs around the harbour. In fact, the redevelopment has flanged right in. The world's largest IMAX theatre sits happily amongst the expressway piers - as does a river-like fountain (pictured), chinese gardens, palm trees and more.

Instead of (as is the case here in Toronto) misusing the concept of waterfront renewal as a battle in the 'war against the auto', Sydney built something practical and inviting for its citizens and the millions of tourists who find their way to Sydney Harbour every year.

Back from Australia and New Zealand

I've just returned from a wonderful break in Australia and New Zealand. I've returned to winter, Czar-wannabe Ignatieff torpedoing the grand coalition, and not much in the way of change in Toronto. (Does Toronto have an allergy to change?)

There's still no word on the replacement streetcars. Councillors will still be getting there raises. David Miller is still flying all over the world instead of running the city properly.

I'm going to post (yeah promises) some material on Sydney - yes in Australia, not Nova Scotia - you just might be interested in knowing that one of the world's most tourist-friendly harbours has an elevated expressway directly in it's midst. (I guess David Miller hasn't go to visit Sydney yet.)

Anyway - I'm going share a wonderful image of the New Zealand coast - for no other purpose than to entertain you.