Updates from February, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:04 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    Journalists are facing an assault on freedom of the press as the inquiry into how the Ian Davidson story was leaked to reporters has escalated to the point where Jean Charest is saying there are no guarantees journalists won’t be put under surveillance – even while saying they’re not the main target of the investigation. Davidson, a retired SPVM investigator, committed suicide last month two days after news that Montreal police were investigating him for trying to sell a list of informants to the Mafia.

  • Kate 22:56 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    The auctioneer who was going to sell off some pieces of supposed Nazi Holocaust remains has cancelled the auction and given the items to a Jewish congregation for burial.

    • William 16:13 on 2012/02/11 Permalink

      I guess he can consider his visibility campaign for his auction website to be a success. How vile.

    • Kate 11:40 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      It worked for the Botines guy, and I’m sure he knew that.

  • Kate 10:33 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    SNC-Lavalin is going to be doing a study on bringing trolleybuses back to town.

    • Ian 10:46 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I sincerely hope they don’t go for it – one of the things I like best about Montreal is the lack of eyeline visual pollution that comes with streetcar or trolleybus lines.

    • ant6n 10:52 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      Trolleybuses combine the disadvantages of streetcars with the disadvantages of buses.

    • Mathieu 10:54 on 2012/02/10 Permalink


      I would prefer a few discrete overhead wires than noise and fumes from buses. Besides, new trolleybuses can go out of their way and run on batteries for a while. This means they don’t have to put wires everwhere and buses can take a detour if necessary.

    • ant6n 10:56 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      If you want electric buses, then buy electric buses.
      If you want fixed infrastructure transit, then build streetcars with their own right of way.

    • Ian 10:59 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      @Mathieu – I am from Hamilton, Ontario, which has trolleybuses – or at least did when I lived there – and they are actually just as loud as regular buses. They were also equipped with diesel motors for off-route destinations. I’m going to have to agree with ant6n – if you want electric buses, then buy electric buses. They may not have to put up wires everywhere, but the streetcars in Toronto don’t run everywhere and, well, http://www.boldts.net/TorQa.shtml

    • SN86 11:31 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I’m surprised that more transit agencies haven’t bought hybrid buses since they’re cheaper than electric buses and there’s no need for additional infrastructure. STM engineers have made the current hybrids (8 of them) more efficient than factory-spec so it would make sense to just buy more of these. Diesel technology these days is better than it was in 2008 with improved efficiency and better cleaning of exhaust gases. The e-motors would do the stopping and starting, removing the largest chunk of engine inefficiencies.

      This solution doesn’t solve issues of emissions but it is cheap and gets good return than building all new infrastructure and back-end requirements.

    • Mathieu 11:48 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      The point of trolleys is not necessary to have fixed infrastructure, but to work on electricity. Electric buses at the moment need to be charged far too often and “biberonage” (feeding at stations) is not developped enough according to the STM.

      I’ve taken trolleys in Lyon and they definitely weren’t as loud as diesel buses. And I’ve experienced the “biberonnage” technology in China and I tink it’s the best option at the moment. However, the STM doesn’t think so (for a cost concern, maybe) and I am confident that they are well informed. Trolleys then seem to be a good way to electrify at lower cost.

    • Kevin 12:06 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I lived in Vancouver for many years, where they have trolleybuses and diesel.

      Trolleys are not capable of going faster than 5 kmh when off their wires. (which are anything but discrete)

      They are also prone to coming unattached from the wires, which means the bus driver has to stop (immediately! In the middle of the street!) then exit the bus and try to reattach the connection. The fastest I ever saw anyone do this was in 2 minutes. On a windy day I was once stuck for ten minutes while the driver attempted again and again to make the connection.

      I can easily see this being an absolute nightmare during any sort of inclement weather, let alone a blizzard.

    • ant6n 12:42 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      Well, if the stm thinks that pure electric buses are not good enough, then they should wait. By the time they’ll actually get trolleys (2017?) the electric buses, possibly with overhead charging stations like in china, are going to be fairly mature.

      Also consider that installing the overhead for trolleys, plus the trolleys themselves should be an investment that will have to last 40 or 50 years. So after a few years this technology is probably going to be way outdated.

    • Mathieu 13:08 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I agree with you, Ant6n, that trolleys is not the best technology and might be soon outdated. However, if it goes like in Laval, Hydro-Québec will probably finance the wires and installation. It doesn’t make it better from a macro perspective, but for Montrealers it’s a net gain!

    • ant6n 13:45 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I’m sort of afraid that trolleys are seens as a somewhat ‘lrt/streetcar on the cheap’ option, which also doesn’t require taking away precious street-space from cars. But the capacity is less, and most notably the ride quality is much less.

    • qatzelok 12:05 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      After the MTQ specified “diesel” for its train de l’est, it’s kind of funny to see a firm studying electrifying bus routes. I mean, the train de l’est follows a fixed route and its electric catheters wouldn’t have uglified any streets. If anyone thinks are authorities have any integrity, please explain how they do.

    • ant6n 12:38 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Different authorities?
      One thing to consider is that the train de l’est runs on an active freight track. Since there was no new track added to accomodate the train de l’est, overhead would have to be build over the freight line. The freight companies don’t like live wire above their tracks, so that might be difficult to push through.

    • qatzelok 14:08 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Electric catheters are high enough that they don’t interfere with freight trains. I can’t find a single article regarding a conflict between freight trains and catheters. And wouldn’t freight be better off being electrified (when practical) as well?

    • ant6n 22:28 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Well, for example the (level) junction between the Deux Montagnes line and the freight line the train de l’est is going to run on has something in place so that the life wire can be turned off. CN also won’t allow more trains, until the overpass at that junction is built. Generally, freight rail lines don’t like any sort of interference on their tracks.

    • qatzelok 15:00 on 2012/02/13 Permalink

      As I said, I haven’t found a single article about freight trains ‘not liking’ electric catheters. Since you see these catheters all over Europe, I would say that your ‘fear’ is just PR put out by Diesel merchants, or other people receiving brown envelopes.

    • mare 18:47 on 2012/02/13 Permalink

      Freight trains here sometimes have stacked container loads. Way higher than they can be in Europe.

  • Kate 10:17 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    Journalists are creating a common front against the public security minister’s mustering of the SQ to find out how the Ian Davidson story leaked to the media.

  • Kate 10:12 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    Andy Riga reports on concrete paralumes in his blog: they still hang over several spots on the city’s autoroutes.

    • JaneyB 14:04 on 2012/02/11 Permalink

      The phrase “They are safe” is fast becoming ironic and Transport Quebec inspections seem basically ridiculous. So sad. I, like many I suspect, yearn for out-of-province engineering audits….

    • Chris 16:21 on 2012/02/11 Permalink

      Safety is always relative. Nothing is 100% safe. Statistically, over decades, few of these have fallen, and even fewer people have been hurt. Air pollution kills more people than paralumes; they are being over-scrutinized really.

    • Kate 11:42 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Possibly, but it does seem kind of amazing that they suspended all this concrete overhead for no other reason than to reduce glare. There’s got to be a less hazardous way to achieve that.

    • Kate 17:48 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      John B, surely someone can devise a sunshade that weighs less than concrete?

    • John B 17:34 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Isn’t it good that they’re still there? Paralumes are a safety feature, to remove them is asking for accidents when the really bright summer days return.

    • John B 20:34 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      @Kate: True, probably steel or aluminum would work. However, it shouldn’t matter how heavy the sunshade is, just that it’s well attached. Since most tunnels involve a lot of concrete it may be cheaper & faster, and is probably just as safe if done right, to just use concrete for the paralumes than another whole system.

      The only other tunnel I remember seeing paralumes on is the Massey tunnel near Vancouver, and they’re at least partly concrete there too, (see Google maps: http://g.co/maps/sfjfg – I couldn’t find a description of what they’re made of).

    • Chris 23:13 on 2012/02/12 Permalink

      Kate, sure they could make better paralumes, but would the additional expenditure reap more reward elsewhere? Money spent on A is money not spent on B.

  • Kate 01:22 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    McGill turned out the lights on its sit-in protesters Thursday afternoon but I have it from Facebook that supporters have managed to send up groceries on a rope.

    Protesters have posted a sort of manifesto; story from the Coop média de Montréal.

    • Marko 09:05 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      This is what it’s all about. The students who have shut down the James Admin building don’t want to have to redo the referendum where CKUT and QPIRG tried to sneak in two mandates into one question.
      Here is the text of the November referendum question for CKUT; the QPIRG question used similar language (from MRO):

      “Do you support CKUT continuing as a recognized student activity supported by a fee of $4.00 per semester for full-time undergraduate students, which is not opt-outable on the Minerva online opt-out system but is directly refundable through CKUT, with the understanding that a majority “no” vote will result in the termination of all undergraduate funding to CKUT?”

      I support CKUT continuing as a recognized student activity but I would like to retain the right to opt out of this “optional fee” when I register. This is why you can’t ask two questions with one answer in a referendum.
      Continuing to shut down the McGill administration building over this issue is the height of stupidity.

    • James 10:28 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      I agree with what you’re saying. But why was this approved by Elections McGill beforehand? Why is it only after we get results of an election do we disallow a question? I also think this is the tip of the iceberg of problems between the three parties, regardless of how you feel about the question. Sorry I do agree with what you’re saying, the question was poorly written (it should have just been about getting rid of the online opt-out system IHMO).

    • Tux 15:04 on 2012/02/10 Permalink

      The occupiers are protesting unilateral actions against the wishes of students in general too, it’s not just about CKUT. One of the examples on their website is McGill’s shut-down of the student-run Architecture Cafe in order to comply with an exclusivity deal the university made with a food-service company.

    • Michael Black 01:24 on 2012/02/11 Permalink

      If something is actually valuable, then the truth should be strong enough. There are a few layers of misdirection here.


  • Kate 01:11 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    I’ve lost track of how many times health ministers have announced they’re going to fix wait times at Montreal emergency rooms and then they don’t.

  • Kate 01:09 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    An auctioneer in Montreal claims he’s selling human remains from the Holocaust even though such trade is illegal. It’s likely to be a ploy for publicity, as a similar claim was made a couple of years ago by a junk shop on the Main, which was later debunked.

  • Kate 01:04 on 2012/02/10 Permalink | Reply  

    Fascinating piece in Le Devoir about how Statistics Canada has been forced to abandon tracking dozens of categories of dataNous sommes entrés dans une logique politique fondée sur une conception du monde plus idéologique que scientifique, says one researcher.

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