Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Public transport - a paradigm shift is needed

Transport Minister Lyn Kosky has just quit politics, but the public transport debacle is not just her fault - it lies with the Labor government (and preceeding Liberal governments) that have spent far too little on new trains, tracks and better services.

The perennial low budget allocation for public transport compared to roads is the major reason that public transport infrastructure is now groaning to keep up with demand.

Over three million more people now live in Melbourne than when the train network was built - and the last new train line constructed in 1930 - the Glen Waverley line.

Far too little is allocated to serious improvements in sustainable transport infrastructure such as:
  • New train tracks to suburbs not currently serviced by trains - such as the planned (but never delivered) Rowville (servicing Monash Uni) and Doncaster lines.
  • Turning Melbourne's slow and inefficient tram network into a faster more efficient light rail network that is not impeded by traffic
  • Safe and direct bike paths to provide commute and recreational riding within suburbs and to central Melbourne - with proper signposting
  • A metro for inner Melbourne to take the load off congested CBD streets - linking Richmond, Fitzroy, Carlton, Melbourne University, North Melbourne, South Melbourne
  • Undergrounding several CBD trams to free up streets for pedestrians and street life.
  • Return public transport to public ownership and operation. The current blame game and lack of accountability for service delivery and quality - between Government and private operators - must stop.
Martin Pakula, a unionist before he entered politics, is now the Minister for Public Transport. Don't hold your breath for any rapid improvements to public transport - or shift in the Brumby government's priority focus on roads and freeways.

With climate change upon us, it is to be hoped that this situation will turn around so Melbourne's residents have convenient and effective climate friendly transport options available.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is an Android phone better than an iPhone?

I have been using an HTC Magic phone for two months. It is powered by the open source Android mobile operating system that Google was involved in creating.

My experience is that the platform provides excellent access to Internet services such as browsing, searching, accessing email and contacts (via Gmail or other web account), and it also performs well as a phone.

I think the killer features are:
  • Unified contacts list via Gmail - no more scattered contacts between phones, PDAs, laptops and email clients
  • Tethering is available without hacking the phone so you can use it as a modem
  • Integration with Google maps and GPS. You can hyperlink to maps directly from contact and calendar addresses, and use Google Maps to navigate there.
This Greenlivingpedia article provides more details.

In summary, I thin that Android has many features that make it superior to an iPhone, and many of the handsets are cheaper. You also now have a wider choice of handsets, including Samsung, HTC, Motorola (the Droid) and now even Google with its Nexus One (currently only available in the United States, and is manufactured by HTC).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Japanese whaling must stop now

The Japanese are still insisting on whaling in the southern ocean adjacent to Australia's Antarctic Territory. Their excuses for this appalling slaughter of whales are nonsense.

They claim they kills whales for scientific purposes, yet there are no scientific publications of any consequence resulting. One whale maybe, but certainly not a thousand.

They claim it is a traditional activity and that they like to eat whale meat. This is a direct contradiction to the first excuse, and it is also false. The Japanese have no traditions of eating whale meat, and have only recently engaged in large marketing campaigns in Japan to get people to eat more.

The Japanese do not need to kill or eat whales. This barbaric activity must stop.

A Japanese escort ship has just rammed and sunk the Andy Gill, one of Sea Shepherd's boats attempting to prevent them whaling. This is a deliberate and hostile action that could easily have resulted in a loss of life.

The Australian Government (Peter Garrett and Kevin Rudd) must take immediate action to enforce international law regarding the protection of whales, and they must send a ship to the Southern Ocean to ensure that peace is kept and no deaths result.

As individuals we can also boycott all Japanese goods and products until they stop the whaling