One of the best TransitCamp sessions was the wide-ranging Suggestions for Transit discussion. That link has a huge number of great suggestions. Here are my picks for getting the most bang for the buck:
Give Skytrain Stations Character Each station should have a unique character. Murals and artwork should cover all the walls where people wait and pass by. Each station should look different, visually appealing, and represent the style of the area around it. Granville & Burrard stations are indistinguishable currently.
Vancouver has an existing mural program that Translink should take advantage of for this. Skytrain stations right now are boring; there is room for drastic improvement here.
Give Skytrain Stations Activity Skytrain platforms are high traffic areas, but there aren't any services there. Translink needs to build little villages in these areas. Coffee shops, magazines shops, bakeries (ideally with personality - not just corporate feel).
Bakeries would be fabulous; imagine skytrain stations smelling like freshly baked bread! Make this a nice place to be, not merely a boring place to wait. Burrard station mid-level should have this pronto! Kiosks directly on some skytrain platform are also a great idea.
These things could be money makers for Translink, while improving the rider experience at the same time.
Load Buses Better Load buses from the back doors anytime there is a bottleneck at the front door. Faster loading speeds speeds up the system for everyone. Front-door only loading is like bad DRM that inconveniences everyone from a fear of a few. Translink is shooting themselves in the foot by introducing a bottleneck into the system at the front door of every bus, at every stop.
Improve Bus Stops The walls of bus shelters are being wasted right now. Put maps of the city here! And transit maps, and a nice 'You are here' dot. This would be a great boon for tourists and new users.
Open the Data There are lots of people who would love to build services using the route/timing data Translink has. So open up the data and let them! The core competency of Translink is not information technology; open-source it.
Make It Happen Translink That's the end of my list. I hope that Translink moves on these items. They could make a big difference to our transit service here. Props to the all the participants at Vancouver Transit Camp for bringing out these suggestions.
Translink has finally finished their official system to get upcoming bus times via text message. To use it:
- Send a text message to phone number 33333. - The text inside the message you send needs to be the 5 digit unique number for the bus stop you're at. You can find this number in the upper right hand corner of all bus stop signs (or look on the TransLink website). - They will text you back with upcoming bus numbers and times.
I tested this service out today and it worked for me. The reply text came back very fast too. Nice!
The government could enable some form of this here by giving taxis the ability to pick up multiple passengers. Taking it further, ad-hoc carpooling at transit hubs could eventually fill many of the empty seats in cars on the road.
I went to the Shambhala Music Festival last week and it blew my mind. The setting, the vibe, the people, the costumes, the art, the river, the DJs, the music, and the dancing. Oh, the sweet endless dancing. If you like to dance you need to come to Shambhala. I plan to go back next year and every year.
Proponents of hedonics, or happiness economics, have been gaining influence... [They] assert that, contrary to the guiding principle of a century of economists, income is a poor measure of happiness. Economic growth in England and the U.S. in the past half-century hasn't measurably increased life satisfaction.
How do you make people happier?
Recent studies on life satisfaction show that commuting makes people more unhappy than anything else in life. (It is, apparently, the opposite of sex.) Commuting also happens to rob us of time for family and friends.
The facts show that building freeways is not a good way to reduce commute times.
The only major Canadian city where commute times didn't shoot up in the past decade was freeway-free Vancouver, where the city stopped adding road capacity in 1997 and has been aggressively "traffic-calming" ever since.
The mayor of Bogata started dramatic changes in their transportation system and funding.
"A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can't be both," the new mayor announced. He shelved the highway plans and poured the billions saved into parks, schools, libraries, bike routes and the world's longest "pedestrian freeway."
He increased gas taxes and prohibited car owners from driving during rush hour more than three times per week. He also handed over prime space on the city's main arteries to the Transmilenio, a bus rapid-transit system based on that of Curitiba, Brazil.
Bogotans almost impeached their new mayor. Business owners were outraged. Yet by the end of his three-year term, Mr. Peñalosa was immensely popular and his reforms were being lauded for making Bogota remarkably fairer, more tolerable and more efficient.
Moreover, by shifting the budget away from private cars, Mr. Peñalosa was able to boost school enrolment by 30 per cent, build 1,200 parks, revitalize the core of the city and provide running water to hundreds of thousands of poor.
How relevant is this for North America?
When Manhattan held a conference in October asking for a prescription for the gridlocked streets of New York, Mr. Peñalosa cheerily suggested banning cars entirely from Broadway.
"He got a standing ovation," observed an astounded Deputy Borough President Rose Pierre-Louis. New York is now considering charging drivers to enter Manhattan.
Mr. Peñalosa was also given a hero's welcome by hundreds of cheering urbanists, planners and politicians at last summer's World Urban Forum in Vancouver. Stuart Ramsey, a B.C. transportation engineer, suggested it was because the Colombian had gone ahead and done what they had all been talking about for years.
"Bogota has demonstrated that it is possible to make dramatic change to how we move around in our cities in a very short time frame," Mr. Ramsey said afterward. "It's simply a matter of choosing to do so."
It all ties into climate change too.
"We could improve our air quality and dramatically reduce our emissions any time we want. It's easy to do. All it would take is a can of paint and you'd have dedicated bus lanes. It doesn't require huge amounts of money. It simply requires a choice."
My brother came out west and we did some travelling together. Here's a map of trip number 1, from Vancouver into the BC Okanagan Valley. We stayed in Oliver with some relatives, went skiing at Apex, and then flew back to Van from Kelowna.
My cousin who grew up in the valley has a website about Okanagan Wine, which is one of the big things the region is known for. We got to do a little bit of tasting at dinner.
Like every productive morning at the lab, I was going through my yahoo mail/gmail/ sillytech/ StG/ every other blog on the list/ BBC news routine before i started work this morning, and I came across this "in pictures" session for Valentine's day from BBC:
Richard Stursberg (on financing Canadian shows vs. American simulcasts):
The CBC, as Bob pointed out, is the only broadcaster where deep prime time is actually available for Canadian shows. Having said that, the economics of this is brutal. To give you a very straight-up example, if I want to buy an hour of high-end dramatic programming right now, I can buy an American program that would cost $3 million to $4 million an hour to make, for $200,000. At $200,000, I can put it on TV and make $425,000 in revenue. A parallel Canadian program, even if I’m not even in the same ballpark–despite the fact that whether we like it or not, we will be judged by the same production standards as American programming–is going to cost me, say, $1 million to $1.5 million to $2 million an hour. What can I recover by way of revenue? Maybe $120,000 to $150,000, because of the relative performance of the programs. Big problem.
One thing the the current BC Liberal government seems to be good at is asking people for their input. They're currently running a 2007 Budget Consultation. It gives everyone an opportunity to share their views on where the budget should spend more and less. It includes an on-line response form, so if you live in BC go and tell them what you think.
My input (in a nutshell): Spend more money on public transport and to support increased bicycle use. Try and fix healthcare spending before all the baby boomers retire. Ditch the highway expansion spending.
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It was definitely clean and orderly (and expensive) compared to the rest of Asia I saw! I loved Little India. And I think, clean + orderly compared to the rest of the world around there.
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