Book reviewer, cat photographer, fanzine editor, map blogger, snake whisperer.

Category: Transportation

Cab Ride Train Videos

The Washington Post looks at the genre of cab ride train videos: long, uninterrupted videos of complete train journeys as seen from the locomotive’s cab. (See Jalopnik’s post if you can’t get past the Post’s registration wall.) There are more than 8,000 such videos listed at Rail Cab Rides, and they’re all over YouTube: they range from scenic mountain railways to the fastest of high-speed trains. (For example, this channel, which I follow, focuses on French trains; it’s hard to call this subgenre “slow TV” when you’re watching TGVs at full speed.) I find them oddly addictive: some people use them as background, but I can’t stop paying attention.

Our Region’s New, Improved Bus Service

For the first time since before we moved out here, the Pontiac’s weekday bus service is seeing some major changes. Based on what I can figure out from what’s been announced, for most people they should be improvements.

What we’ve had until now is a standalone commuter bus service that started on Isle-aux-Allumettes and ran the length of Route 148 before terminating at Ottawa’s downtown bus station. It was run by Transport Thom for many years before being taken over by Transcollines, the rural bus service of the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, a few years back. Transcollines didn’t change anything about the service—same route, same schedule, same price—and kept it essentially separate from the rest of the network, but did promise that the route would be upgraded and integrated at some point in the future.

It’s years later than originally promised, but those changes have now been announced. New as of next week is Transcollines’s Route 910, which from what I can gather has a number of notable changes over the old service.

Could Sleeper Trains Replace International Air Travel?

The case for sleeper trains replacing air travel is very much a European thing.1 Flight shame (flygskam) is reducing demand for air travel, and European distances are such that overnight trains are feasible. At one point it looked like the combination of high-speed rail and budget airlines would doom European night trains, but that trend seems to be reversing itself: ÖBB’s Nightjet service is expanding in the face of soaring demand, and other operators are planning to reintroduce sleeper trains.

Bus Service in the Pontiac

The Pontiac’s commuter bus service—a single line running the 148 from Isle-aux-Allumettes to downtown Ottawa—was for many years run by Transport Thom. But finding out about the service took some doing: there was never a web page listing fares and schedules. (I had to go to the service station that serves as Shawville’s bus stop.) Now that the service has been taken over by Transcollines, we have that web page.

We like having friends visit, but many of them are urbanites without cars. The current schedule doesn’t necessarily solve that problem: the morning bus passes through Shawville at 6:00 and the afternoon bus leaves Ottawa’s bus terminal at 3:30 (unchanged since the Thom days). A single one-way ticket is $17. (Weekly and monthly passes are much cheaper per trip: it’s a commuter bus, after all.) There’s a reason we usually just drive in and pick people up. But Transcollines will be revamping the service next year; it’ll be interesting to see what changes.

Accidents on Autoroute 50

aut-50Last weekend there was a major accident on Autoroute 50 near Buckingham: a head-on collision left one woman dead; a man is being charged with impaired driving.

Most of Autoroute 50 is a two-lane expressway, which might need some explaining. It’s an undivided, two-lane highway built to freeway standards. Cars travel at freeway speeds (100 km/h in this case) but there’s only one lane of traffic in each direction (except for occasional passing lanes), separated by a double yellow line. It’s also literally half of a freeway: the overpasses are built to accommodate a full freeway, but only one of the two roadways is built; there’s space for the other roadway to be built later.

Seven people have been killed in accidents along the undivided stretch of Autoroute 50 since 2013, which is leading to calls to build that other half of the freeway. Having taken that stretch of highway more than once myself, I understand the problem: drivers go fast and tailgate you until the next passing lane. Freeway-style driving on a two-lane highway does not make for a relaxing drive.

But the old highway that Autoroute 50 bypasses, Route 148, isn’t completely safe either. In 2007 a 14-vehicle crash east of Masson-Angers killed one and injured six. Route 148 is twisty and scenic and passes through every town; Autoroute 50 is straight and has great sight lines. It’s not an inherently dangerous road — that is, until you put speeding and drunk drivers on it. If the traffic levels warrant twinning some of Autoroute 50, so be it, but I’m skeptical of solving behavioural problems with engineering. Twinning a highway might address head-on collisions, but it doesn’t make speeding or impaired driving go away.

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