Transit Unfareness

August 1, 2013

The Vancouver Observer has an excellent piece today on transit and the homeless.  It seems that Vancouver’s transit operators are remarkably compassionate compared to those in other cities.  I travel on the bus almost every day and I see them let indigent folks travel without paying all the time.  Good thing.

In an urban culture like ours, public transportation is an essential service.  I’m pretty sure I’ve written here before that I believe strongly in a no-fare transit system for that very reason; if I haven’t I should have.  It’s a regional service and the current fare revenue could be easily paid for with a miniscule regional sales tax. I bet that a quarter of 1% would be more than enough.

Of course, with the new Compass card we are going in the opposite direction, making public transportation ever more difficult for those who need it the most.  As the Observer article says about faregates on SkyTrain, someone with no money “cannot negotiate or argue with a robot.”

This is just wrong and we need to figure it out fast.

Changes On The Drive #24

August 1, 2013

A whole month without any rain at all — who would believe we are in Vancouver!  There were a few sprinkles last night, I understand, and it was really muggy for my walk this morning. The fan outside the door of the Portuguese Club is a real joy at this time of year.

We’ll start this month with the vacancies:  2120, 1949, 1840, 1268, and 1181 Commercial are still vacant with no sign of immediate improvement.   Unfortunately, the always exuberant Riot Clothing at 1344 is newly closed.


The old Action Framing at 2055 is also vacant but there is a notice that this will soon be a UPS store.  The only newly opened business that I noticed this month was Puff at 1204 Commercial.


The interior of SuperValu at First & Commercial has new signage, a great improvement.  Nearby, the mystery of the interior vacancies at Il Mercarto Mall has been solved: VanCity Savings is expanded into the space that used to be Metropolitan Insurance and the Greek Express. The work will go on, apparently, until November.  The small storefront right on Commercial is still vacant.

On the corner of Commercial & Graveley, I notice that the Merchant’s Oyster Bar has a patio. Is that new or did I just miss it before?


Also, I haven’t previously noted a series of concrete planters outside the liquor store that have been there for a few months.

Liquor store

At Commercial & Charles, what some people are calling the Harry Grunsky reign of terror continues to develop.  The Little Nest restaurant is still open and will be until Labour Day, I hear. But they will then close, chased out by Harry’s demand for an exorbitant rent.  Next door, the Flower Box florist is also closing, I’m told, for the same reason.

charles street

If Harry, who I last saw exhibiting his millinery skills at Famous Empty Sky’s fabulous Clockwork Universe event back in April, wants to contact me and give me his side of the story, I’ll be happy to pass it on.  However he has been the classic no comment guy with the media which is rarely a sign of good karma.

Another rumour has the Dollar Store in the 1300-block closing at the end of August.  It underwent a lot of changes in the last few months — featuring flowers rather than cheap trinkets — but I guess that wasn’t enough to save it,

Palki Restaurant at 1130 has undergone a renovation of its storefront AND a change of name to Sula Indian Restaurant  but I’m sure the well-regarded quality of the food hasn’t changed though.


The Florida Market at 1102 Commercial has now closed, having been open in that location since 1945. The owners of the new building want to increase the rent (where have we heard that story before) and closed the store’s lease. The Kim’s were very popular owners and the neighbours gave them a going-away card, and many of us popped in to say our sad farewells. They have now moved to Burnaby.  There was a rumour that a Greek restaurant would move into the space (which now commands a $6,000/month rent I am advised), but we’ll have to wait and see.

Quite a few stores and restaurants have Now Hiring signs, I notice; a symbol of hope perhaps.

Well, I’ve been doing these monthly walks and write ups for a full two years now.  I hope they continue to be useful.

Previous Changes On The Drive.