Friday, April 28, 2006

Subway to Scarborough??

Earlier this week- and it's been a very long week - I attended a presentation and Q&A session about the options being considered for replacing etc. the Scarborough RT system. The rolling stock used on the line will have worn out by 2015. Given how long it can take to make transit decisions involving any type of track-based RT, this might give us enough time to have a solution in place.

The crux of the issue is that no-one ever bought into the Ontario-sponsored car design. Replacement cars are not available on the market - and it's deemed too costly to have them custom-built.

Prof. Richard Soberman is spearheading the study. At this stage of the studt, three high-level options are being considered:

1. Replace the existing RT with upgraded technology

- 'Mark II' RT rolling stock - as used in Vancouver on the Sky Train - would be purchased
- the track would be modified to handle the new cars
- the line would be out of service for about 18 months

This option was the lowest cost with the least amount of service disruption.

2. Replace the RT technology with LRT type trains that use overhead wires

- this envisages using the same vehicle design as the TTC might use to replace its existing streetcar

This option has higher costs than #1 because:
- a number of stations must undergo major reconstruction to handle the low floor loading envisaged on the new cars
- because the TTC wishes to use the same design as for the streetcar replacements, there is a bump of about $1,000,000 per car - as the TTC projects this is what it will take to modify off-the-shelf LRT equipment for the downtown street track network

My take is that this option should be shelved because of the requirement for non-standard cars. This puts us back in the same long term predicament - expensive and eventually unreliable and unservicable cars. Unless the TTC bites the bullet and goes with off-the-shelf technology for LRT in general - scratch option #2.

3. A subway line from Kennedy to Scarborough Town Center

This would run on a different route than the existing RT. In addition, the number of stations would be reduced.

Price tag is $1.2 billion + some land and utilities costs.

The meeting was interesting. There were many politicians in attendance. Scarborough coucillors - and the majority of deputants - prefer the subway option. I'm leaning that way as well - for the following reasons:

- it will use standard technology - i.e. subway cars
- it eliminates the transfer between the line and the existing subway
- in the long term, a transit system based on investment in subway + supporting buses - such as in Montreal - is delivering better cost and ridership performance than any other North American system.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Globe and Mail: Ottawa chided on approach to Kyoto

Well, the cat is already out of the bag on two counts for Kyoto. hmm - perhaps it was already, but now even the middle of the road Canadian who has accepted this bunk with glazed-over eyes might even begin to notice.

The Globe and Mail: Ottawa chided on approach to Kyoto

The first feline escape is that there is no way for Canada to meet its goal - without shutting down large parts of the economy that is. It's been obvious all along to those who gave it any thought. Canada:

1. Is a growing economy - with a growing population. (Unlike those European countries so seemingly intent on zero-growth, and high unemployment.)
2. Is a cold country - meaning we use energy to stay alive in winter.
3. Has efficient, world-scale, world-competitive process industries.

The Yanks and Aussies are also countries with growing popultations. Their governments were smart enough to figure this one out. Canada has signed up for something for PR purposes - and now we will be stuck with a huge bill. I say pull out now!

Feline escape number two is obvious from the comments of the cretins in the environmental industry. They are bemoaning that industry is to be 'let off the hook'.

It is clear that the objective of the environmental industry has never been to reduce global green house on a global basis, but rather to hamstring Canadian, US etc industries to the extent that it shuts down entirely.

Either that, or it escapes their very limited cognitive capabilities that in the event that costs here are raised to the extent that production is no longer competitive, a host of other countries are more than willing to take our raw materials (gas, coal, unfractionated NGLs) etc., and produce the energy, hydrocarbons, plastics, paper that final consumers will still need. In such an event, GHG gas emissions will rise as additional energy would be required to transport the commodties.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Worth a read: State of Fear, by Michael Crichton

I must admit that 99% of by reading time is allocated to non-fiction. I'll read about one novel a year. However, when my dad gave me a copy of Michael Crichton's State of Fear, I decided to put down Robert Massie's masterful Castles of Steel for an evening or so - and give Crichton's work a go.

State of Fear is an techo-thriller wrapped by an indictment of group-think "science" that is being foisted upon. "Being foisted upon us by whom?" you may ask. Well - I'm not going to get into the details in the book - but I'll relate to you a true life example of the type of truth-bending and even complete fabrications that elements of the academic elites employ to help achieve political aims.

In early 2004, in an attempt to influence the US elections, a group called the Union of Concerned Scientists (or UCS) published a letter indicting the Bush science policy. As reported in the Globe and Mail, UCS front man Dr. Neal Lane stated:

One of the most egregious cases mentioned in the report was the issue of the panel on appropriate levels of mercury and lead in paint, and in the environment in general," said Neal Lane, a former director of the National Science Foundation and a former presidential science adviser.

The letter stated that a the Bush adminstration had "dismissed" a Dr. Weitzman from an NIH scientific advisory panel dealing with lead issues - and replaced him with another academic - a Dr. Banner - who they portrayed as in industry lackey for having testified for the defense in a product liability lawsuit.

This is a clear example of the type of fearmongering described in Crichton's book. The implication is that those evil industry types are taking over and that children will soon be poisoned by lead. UCS types believe reflexively that anyone associated with 'industry' is bad.

The trouble is that this most egregious case of supposed malfeasance is fabricated. In fact, Dr. Weitzman's term on the panel was expiring. The administration was simply filling the position- and attempting to bring more balance to the panel. Dr. Banner has not subsequently attempted to poison children by raising the allowable lead exposure levels. The minutes of the advisory panel meetings are published in the web - and they certainly show Dr. Banner as an informed and active participant, rather than the ignorant stooge that the UCS would have us believe him.

I exchanged a few emails with Dr. Kurt Gottfried on this matter. Gottfried did not refute the inaccuracy. He claimed that Weitzman had been told informally that he would remain on the panel - despite having been on for the normal maximum. Gottfriend indicated that the 'real issue' was the fact that the HHS Secretary had igored CDC staff recommendations.

Of course, none of this detail was in the smeer job that UCS foisted upon the unsuspecting public. They simply said that Weitzman was 'dismissed'.

I'm still waiting for Gottfried to get back to me.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Naomi Klein's dreams

I haven't been here in a while - but I thought I'd post a letter I wrote to the Globe & Mail in response to the far-left hysteric Naomi Klein. In her column:

The Globe and Mail: Let's put teeth in our protest

Klein writes dreamily about her hope that Canada's accepting of a refugee claimant from the US could somehow force the US and Britain to abandon Iraq. Klein doesn't go into what might happen in Iraq should that occur. It doesn't seem to matter to her that the return of the Baathists would mean an unparalled campaign of brutality against the Kurd and Shia. The only thing that seems to matter to Klein is to prevent the Bush policy from suceeding. The Bush policy must fail in order to give the Dems an edge in th enext election.

My view is that Naomi Klein should adopt a variation of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream". Her variation would be "I had two dreams".

In Klein's first dream, Iraqis take advantage of the opportunity to form a democracy. The Iraqi police and civil defence forces gain strength and experience - and are able to confront the mafia-like insurgents with increasing self-reliance. Eventually, the country becomes a pillar of a more peaceful Middle East. Klein becomes increasingly restive during this dream. Finally, In a cold sweat, she awakes screaming "If the Bush policy works, we'll never take the White House back!"

Ms. Klein's eventually stops hyperventillating and manages to fall asleep. This time she dreams that the US and Britain are forced out of Iraq. The Baathist mafia sweep back into power, release Sadaam from his cell, and unleash an unmatched campaign of bloodletting and torture against the the Kurds and Shiites. Ms. Klein does not awake - but her lips curl into a broad smile in anticipation of the Democrats retaking the White House in 2008.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Enviroloon spotted

Enviroloon spotters need not resort to field glasses to spot a particularly 'fine' example - as today's Toronto Star contains a column by a Mr. David Israelson:

U.S. policy and the environment

Those versed in spotting these birds know to look for the following characteristics:

1. Ignorance
2. Hypocrisy

Israelson's column has unmistakeable examples of these markings.

He whines: "Most audacious, of course, was the Bush administration's decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming". If ignorance were a green-house gas, Israelson would be a top global source. In the US system of government, it is the Senate that must ratify international treaties. The Clinton Administration did submit the Kyoto agreement to the Senate for ratification in 1997 - whereupon that legislative body rejected it by a vote of 95-0.

Kyoto was always dead on arrival in the Senate - even before today's heightened concern in the United States about cheap imports from countries (such as India and China) that would not be bound by emissions restrictions. In today's political environment, Kyoto would not simply be DOA in the Senate chamber - it would be FBA (Fossilized Before Arrival.)

Now onto hypocrisy. In typical Canadian leftist fashion, Israelson lavishes scorn on the US in general and the Bush adminstration is particular - yet somehow fails to mention that that Canada has no plan in place to achieve its agreed reductions under Kyoto.

On the Bush adminstration's proposal to allow drilling in northern Alaska, he writes that "Canada and other contend that that this would do irreparable harm to the northern ecosystem". He conveniently forgets to mention the hydrocarbon exploration that has been going on for many years in Canada's Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea.

Isrealson concludes with a remarkable moment of relative lucidity. He suggest that 'we' stop preaching to the 'US'. I would suggest instead that it should be 'he' who stops preaching to 'us'.