Vancouver update, and travel options

Laurier Avenue Bridge, Ottawa

The last few days of Vancouver downtime have been really enjoyable. It is impossible to disentangle the extent to which the enjoyment is the product of broader and deeper networks of friends here, and the extent to which it arises from characteristics essential to the city.

Tristan is on his way back to Ontario via train. While it seems to be a significantly more carbon-intensive way to travel, it is undeniably infinitely more interesting looking than the bus. He has already provided good photographic evidence of that. In my experience, the bus trip offers virtually nothing worth photographing during short winter days. Perhaps one day we will have low-carbon trains, and thus a way of going cross-country that is both environmentally responsible and tolerably pleasant and interesting.

I have been reading an excellent book and play: Tom Stoppard’s wonderful Arcadia (combining amusing talk of sex and science) and Bill Streever’s Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places. The latter offers an astonishing contrast between stories of success and failure in extreme cold: caterpillars that freeze every winter and take ten years to achieve metamorphosis, versus the final journal entries of doomed expeditions, documenting how the men died one at a time.

Less than four more days, and I will be back on the bus.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

11 thoughts on “Vancouver update, and travel options”

  1. Arcadia is my favourite Stoppard – helped me finally get over the annoyance of doing Travesties + The Importance of Being Earnest as the (non-Shakespeare) play element on the syllabus during English A-level.

  2. Yes. Arcadia is wonderful.

    The UBC Theatre Department put an incredible production for this wonderful play. I was hooked from beginning to end.

    I also specifically remember the chemistry between Thomasina and Septimus, to be incredibly engaging. and the final sequence was jaw dropping.

    I wonder if the talented Anastasia Filipczuk is still acting.

  3. I loved the UBC production of Arcadia. I went four times, bringing different people each time.

  4. “Perhaps one day we will have low-carbon trains, and thus a way of going cross-country that is both environmentally responsible and tolerably pleasant and interesting.”

    The way I see it, trains can be made sustainable, but busses can not be made tolerable.

  5. It worries me a bit that everyone (myself included) sees the bus journey as such a hardship.

    Both climate change and peak oil are potentially reason enough for slow travel to become a mandatory norm again, in our lifetimes. Much depends on how the energy return on investment (EROI) of future biofuels develops, as well as how energy storage technologies like batteries develop.

  6. But it is a hardship, don’t you think? (I guess you do, given the “myself included”).

    It’s hard to change the fact it’s not easily practical. Especially because you’re spending 6 days of your vacation just travelling. As someone who only gets 15 days of vacation per year, I personally would never be able to do it.

  7. If we keep ignoring climate change, peak oil won’t keep us from flying. It will just become more costly.

    Having no oil didn’t keep the Germans and Japanese from flying planes during WWII. Coal to liquids…

  8. “As someone who only gets 15 days of vacation per year”

    Maybe this is something the Germans get right?

  9. As someone who only gets 15 days of vacation per year, I personally would never be able to do it.

    Note that I haven’t gone farther afield than Vermont or Toronto in two years…

  10. Chris Selley: Let’s kill The Canadian, surely the First World’s most dysfunctional train | National Post

    What, you may ask, is the most ridiculous thing about The Canadian? Some might point to the astonishing level of subsidy: In 2018, the average corridor passenger enjoyed a subsidy of $32, or 17 cents per mile. The average passenger on The Canadian: $596, or 48 cents a mile, for a total of $49 million.

    But never mind the price for a second; look what it’s buying. Fifty years ago, CN’s Super Continental was scheduled to take 67 hours. Today The Canadian, plying the same route and giving way to every freight train, is budgeted a mind-boggling 85 hours eastbound and 97 westbound.

    VIA padded out the timetable in 2018 hoping to make the trip more “predictable,” after impudent passengers started complaining about being taken hostage for hours or days, thus ruining their onward travel plans. In 2017’s peak summer season, more than half of eastbound arrivals were at least eight hours late. The average westbound delay between November 2017 and March 2018 was 19 hours; the maximum was 43 hours!

    VIA won’t say how subsidies are distributed over the various classes of service, implausibly labelling the information “commercially sensitive.” But there is no class aboard that provides practical, subsidy-worthy travel. The cheapest berth — a seat that converts into a bunk — is a minimum of $1,111 for the whole trip (meals included), or if you feel like sitting up for four days, $444 (meals excluded).

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