Friday, January 18, 2008

Your Weekend in Review Before it Happens

The blogger will be out of commish form the weekend...

so here's what you can take to the bank between now and Monday:

The Patriots and the Packers will win their games, setting up a classic showdown Feb. 3 in the Stupor Bowl between Tom Brady and Brett Favre, two of the games greatest quarterbacks ever.

Your mutual funds will be worth less than they were on Thursday.

More illegal immigrants, criminals and miscreants will be safely hidden amongst us, gathering income supplements of one kind or another and refusing to return to the hell hole from which they came.

More amazing pronouncements will be made by more governments about fabulous programs that will enrich all our lives. And, by the way, we and our grandchildren will pay for these initiatives, but we won't mind because we are Canadians, a genus often difficult to distinguish from sheep.

Kim Capri will move into the luxe new dog pound.

Sam Sullivan will claim ownership of yet another program that he has had absolutely nothing to do with, while simultaneously refusing to admit that he owns other programs for which he has registered private patents. As always, his staff will be blamed.

Gordon will still be wearing those glasses that declare, "I am a thirty-something Yaletown law student."

Province Column - January 18/08

Make public transit pleasant, safe and quick and we will pay for it

David Berner

The Province

Friday, January 18, 2008

BART, where are you now that we need you? Not Bart Simpson. He's on 15 channels, even at four in the morning. I mean San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System.

I was in the Bay area recently, and travelled from the San Francisco airport to the Oakland-Coliseum stop and back on separate days, a trip of about 50 minutes.

I also travelled from the Oakland-Coliseum stop to Powell Street, Market Street and Union Square and back on another day. That's a trip of about 25 minutes.

Has BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) reduced auto traffic on the Bay Bridge or roads in general? I would guess not.

We drove four times from the Oakland stop to and from my friend's house in the suburb of Clayton. Each trip took one hour on a packed freeway system.

Does that mean BART is a waste? Not at all. It's a great system. Millions of people use it every day. And if more lines are built, more people will use them.

On all occasions, I found the BART experience almost pleasurable.

Imagine, a pleasurable transit experience . . . cheap, efficient, reliable, easy to understand and negotiate, just like transit in Washington, D.C., London and Toronto, to name three.

Imagine big, bold readable signage that directs you to board the train you actually want.

Imagine ticket and turnstile systems that actually cut the freeloaders down to nil.

Imagine streetcars and buses that don't feel like the first stop on the road to Purgatory.

Compare that to your daily Metro Vancouver drudge.

If Premier Campbell wants to build more public transit, I say do it, bring it on! What's a billion here, a billion there between buddies?

The monumental premier is working so hard to belong to the W.A.C. Bennett class. He hungers to leave behind him steel-and-concrete memorials -- the Gordon This, the Campbell That, twinned bridges, convention centres, luge tracks.

Fine. Whatever pumps your cylinders. Build the damn things already, only this time, try to do it right.

Give us trains that are bigger than Tonka toys. Compared to subways almost anywhere else in the world, SkyTrain cars feel like a short step above the miniature railway.

Give us buses and more buses and then some more buses. And how about streetcars and light rail?

And give us security. We don't want drivers punched. We don't want to listen to garbage talk. We don't want women robbed and assaulted at station hubs.

More is good, but better is better. We want transit that is a reasonably pleasant experience.

The carbon issues, the global-warming themes are all very nice, but for most of us these are mute points.

We want to get from A to B relatively quickly and in one piece, ready for our workday or our evening at home.

Yes, we want more public transit. And yes, we'll even pay for it.

But, be warned: If it's the same old bummer, look out for my new Hummer.

Tony Bennett - Cold Cold Heart