Monday, January 8, 2007

The Robman on CBC's The Hour

CBC Television's The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos has posted the clip of me -- Robert J. Sawyer -- talking about the future of transportation which first aired Monday, January 2, 2007.

It's a funny clip in a way. They recorded me in front of a green screen, and then simply keyed in a plain white background (rather than shooting me in front of a white background to begin with). And although it's a canned piece, they played it to The Hour's live studio audience, so it ends up with a silly (but appreciative) laugh track. Anyway, here it is. (3 minutes, 45 seconds)

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At January 09, 2007 3:11 AM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Hi Rob, clip isn't working. Others are saying the same thing.

At January 09, 2007 4:07 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

It's certainly finicky, Jim. I find that just waiting for it to auto-start, rather than clicking the Play button, seems to work; after a few seconds, you'll see a "Buffering" message. But Carolyn has sent a note to the CBC to let them know it's wonky. Sorry about this!

At January 09, 2007 8:35 AM , Anonymous don said...

Worked fine for me right off.

I think the mass transit thing is very dependent on too many factors to be viable for a lot of people, especially in a city as spread out as Calgary. Our transit system is horrible, solely due to the land area covered and design of the city.

And the laugh track IS kind of goofy . . .

At January 09, 2007 10:12 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Well, having taken mass transit a lot in Calgary and Toronto, I'd have to disagree that Calgary's system sucks SOLELY because of the land area covered.

First, of course, Calgary in population and land area is much smaller than the GTA (Greater Toronto Arear), and the GTA has pretty good integrated transit systems: I often take the GO Train (intercity transit) to the Toronto Subway at Union Station, and find it quite pleasant. Of course, I avoid rush hour. :)

But the Calgary system also suffers from being underserved (not enough buses), not punctual (buses not being on time), the surliness of the bus drivers, the general lack of comfort of the buses (including chair benches that aren't really wide enough for two people), and those God-damned rear bus doors that require you to push on them, even if your hands are full, to get them to open, and then frequently whack you on the shoulders as you exit.

At January 09, 2007 4:26 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Hi Rob, I get no buffer but at the same time I'm in Firefox running broadband Internet for well over 6 years now. Clip won't display. Oh well.

Having lived in Calgary for a bit in the early 1980's before C train I found their transit system to be on par with ours here in Edmonton. To be fair to Don, Calgary has grown a lot faster then
Edmonton even though we've had the LRT here before their version of it and our LRT system is constantly expanding.We hope to be in Leduc by 2020:-) j/k. I've also noticed a lotof changes to our system over the years. For instance there are a lot more LRT Gestapo running around trying to shake down little Johnny because his ticket expired. These ETS police carry hand cuffs and I think there's even a move which allow them to carry fire amrs as well.

Since the early 1970's the City has had it's dream ring road system on the books but only recently it's been making some headway and the dream after 30 years is being realized. All in all, our LRT system here is pretty good even though it costs $60 bucks a month for an adult transit pass. But this year the Harper Govt. is putting forth their environmental tax which means now we'll be able to claim bus passes and such on our T4's. Every bit helps. This was unheard of in 1979 when I paid $18 bucks for a monthly transit pass.

A bus driver yesterday was telling me how ETS spent I think about $2 million on diesel fuel last year and that's a big chunk of change.

Since I'm unable to watch the clip, which is probably my end not yours,
and the gist of this is on transportation of the Future, I think the LRT for mid size cities like Edmonton and Calgary are the way to go. In Vancouver their Sky train is fully automated. They have no conductors at all. I've never been on it but from the customers I call in the lower mainland during my call center job tell me it's a good system.I'm originaly from Coquitlam and grew up there in the 60's and 70's and for many years folks there were without transit of any kind. It wasn't until Lougheed mall was built in 1970. Transit planners at the time said "nobody would ever take a bus to a shopping mall." Sales at the Lougheed mall rose by 30%.

But if your interested I found a nifty historical site about city transportation for Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto going back to the 80's and 70's. It's a very elaborate study for the City of Berlye California no less. But there are some interesting photos.

I don't know if Winnipeg has an LRT system.

Apologize for the lengthy rambling and typos. I go in for laser eye surgery tomorrow. :-)

At January 10, 2007 2:52 AM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Rob HAS taken Calgary Transit! We now have proof. :)

Okay, Jim, active current Calgarian and North American transitphile weighing in here:

Calgary's public transportation system might have been fine twenty-five years ago, but in the new millennium, not so much.

Calgary has grown so much partly due to out-of-control urban sprawl and developers who are not willing to play ball with city planners who largely know what they're doing and have the city's best interests at heart. I've never seen a city annex as much land as Calgary has in the last few years.

It's too bad both the Calgary and Edmonton transit systems don't get off open fare systems and switch to turnstiles. They're annoying in many ways, but revenues would increase. It's worked for other cities. And we wouldn't have to have as many useless LRT security guards around, which would free up much-needed labour. ;)

Since 1978 Calgary has had a west C-Train line plan. One proposal was to run it down 17th avenue, but the other proposals were exactly the same as it is going to eventually be built, the only difference being the Bow Trail/Spruce Drive/Ernest Manning field underpass/overpass/station. At least with the ring road they have the excuse of having no right-of-way for the 37th Street south extension. And of not wanting to promote sprawl even more by building a ring road.

Here in Calgary it's $75/month for a pass. And you still can't get a seat.

The SkyTrain rocked, BTW. I didn't take it during rush hour, but the service was fast, convenient, and completely integrated--and integration is difficult as Boston, for example, discovered. The price to take Greater Vancouver's transit for three zones was way too expensive, but one or two zones were reasonable.

And even if the Rob man doesn't want to see the transit link, I'd love to. :)

(Oh, and the clip played fine for me. But I have Shaw Xtreme High Speed and I have my buffer set to maximum. The buffer setting makes a huge difference. Just try it; you'll like it.)

Take care! Post the link. :)

At January 10, 2007 3:06 AM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Clip plays fine for me on my DSL connection.

At January 10, 2007 8:25 AM , Blogger Mark Leslie said...

Love the clip, Rob -- still laughing about the "George Jetson on a bender" and "sex tourism" comments.

I took GO Transit for 7 years between Hamilton and Toronto and for the most part it was completely pleasant and pain-free. (But I still fondly miss the wonderful transit system in Ottawa, with the dedicated transitway for buses, making getting across the city as quick as a subway)

At January 10, 2007 8:44 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Well, here's the link then:

Sorry for messing up the bandwidth.

Let me know if it works.

At January 11, 2007 11:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chiming in about Greater Vancouver's Skytrain's fine IF you live close enough to get to it easily. That's a big "if" for many people.

My main issue with Skytrain is that it's SO expensive to build--I wish that those funds went towards purchasing more buses and having those buses run more frequently and/or to more areas.

Old bus routes direct from the burbs to downtown seem to be disappearing, replaced by "take a bus to Skytrain, take Skytrain to [x] station, take another bus to your destination" itineraries--taking longer and being way more stressful than just sitting on one bus and knowing you'll get there without missing connections or getting on the wrong bus.

Sigh. Public transit is a good thing--I took it every day to school and work for years, and still do whenever possible--but it's just become too inconvenient and time-consuming, unfortunately.

-Bonnie Jean


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