entries filed under 'downtown' tag:
posted by Odin on Apr 30, 2009
'bixi' by ApollineR, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
Just when I thought the city of Montreal couldn't make any more mistakes, I am proven wrong! Just when our public transit options couldn't get any worse, they actually do!
The Bixi public bicycle rental system is due for launch next month. The idea is simple; you pay an annual fee in order to access a network of public bicycles, parked at given stations. Various European cities, such as Paris, Munich and Barcelona, have had similar systems for a few years now.
The concept is great. Lord knows that during the year I've spent in Paris, I have used the Vélib system quite often and am now a devoted fan. What's not to like? Lots of bikes, lots of stations, incredible city coverage, cheap membership (30€ for the year)…
The Montreal system, on the other hand, seems riddled with problems from the onset. To start off, the annual membership fee goes for $78. This is no astronomical amount, but to keep things in perspective, you can buy a used bike for around $100. Also, how can the system cost way less in Paris, a much more expensive city?
Second, the distribution of the Bixi stations leaves much to be desired. A quick look at the map on the official website shows a massive network of stations scattered around downtown and the Plateau area. This raises two issues. First, do you really need THIS many stations next to each other? Seriously, some stations are actually only one block apart! Second, what about the rest of the city? I would have decreased the density a bit to provide some stations in surrounding areas such as Westmount, CDN, NDG, which seem to have been completely neglected.
Finally, we live in a cold city, where you can really only bike for a few months a year. I'm just not too sure it's wise to invest time, effort and money for an activity that will only benefit certain people during a short time window. There are supposedly 300 Bixi stations to start off. What exactly did we lose to provide for all of this space? Is it parking spaces? I sure hope not!
I am not a fan of cars, and would love to see fewer cars on our island. But, unfortunately, cars are everywhere and are here to stay for now. With all of the parking lots transformed into condo projects and the hike in parking meter rates, it has become very hard to find parking anywhere in our busy districts. Does it really make sense to take up even more spaces for Bixi stations? It just seems like we're benefiting the minority bikers at the expense of the majority car drivers, which by the way, need those parking spots ALL year long!
Once again, it seems our officials want to do well and head in the right direction. It just seems they fall short on almost every occasion.
posted by Odin on Apr 24, 2009
'VIA Train 60 entraining' by Bobolink, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
So I read an article a few weeks ago by Andy Riga from the Gazette about the proposed train shuttle between Trudeau airport and downtown, and I thought to myself "what a waste!"
I have always thought that Montreal lacked a lot when it came to public transportation, whether it was to the airport or elsewhere in general. And it definitely sounds like a good idea to add a fast way go get to the airport from downtown (something that most large cities of importance, especially in Europe, have always had).
BUT, at what cost? And to serve whose interests? Expected to cost $800 million, one wonders whether it's worth spending that much of our money on something that's only meant to serve commercial interests rather than your average Montrealer.
For let us not kid ourselves; the winners here are not the citizens of Montreal, who will undoubtedly pay this costly bill, but rather the conglomeration of corporations, hotels and businesses scattered around our commercial hub located around Central Station.
Businessmen and some tourists may find the shuttle a cheaper and faster alternative to getting to their office or hotel downtown. However, as a Montrealer, this new shuttle doesn't really help me out that much, unless I lived close to downtown or a metro station that is within reach from Central Station.
The question is; how am I supposed to take advantage of this new line when the rest of the island has such little metro/train coverage? Suppose I just got back from a trip, and I took the new line downtown; am I supposed to take an interminable metro/bus connection with my luggage to get home?
If you really think about it, it is only a small area lying in the middle of the island that can really benefit from this shuttle. Everybody else will still have to take a taxi or have someone drive them, since from Central Station you can only go so far by metro.
In Paris, for example, I can understand the need and benefit from a direct train ride from the airport to the middle of the city (which exists, by the way). From Châtelet-Les Halles, where the shuttle drops you, you can pretty much get anywhere by metro and/or RER (a crossover train-metro system that covers both the city and its suburbs).
We live in a relatively small city of only 2 million people. We really do not need to go all out and spend like crazy just to join the ranks of cities with 10+ million citizens. I say, increase our on-island coverage first and fix most of its current problems, then maybe we'll talk about this project.
To summarize, I am not against such a shuttle service; I'm just not sure if taxpayers should pay for it, since it will be mostly serve corporate and commercial interests. Why don’t THEY get slammed with the bill?
posted by Odin on Apr 19, 2009
'bens' by viewfromthemoon, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License
By now every real Montrealer knows that the Bens deli has been closed for a while. This restaurant, established in 1908, has been a true landmark for Montreal for nearly a century. After a long standing employee strike, the owners sadly decided to close the institution for good.
The Ville-Marie borough recently issued a construction permit to a developer to demolish the building and erect a sixteen-storey hotel in its place. This took place despite calls from heritage groups to preserve the structure.
Personally, I have only been to Bens once, around fifteen years ago. I am not a big fan of its type of food and/or ambience, but, in my opinion, its 1940s art-deco style is a relic of a lost era. Asides from Beautys in the Plateau, I cannot think of any other remaining diner that captures this period and keeps it alive in our collective minds.
Bens has been frequented by celebrities from all over North-America. Their autographed pictures used to adorn its walls in an attestation for its fame and once-found glory. It is sad to think that the hotel that will replace it will not bear a single resemblance to its predecessor (maybe it could have carried its name? Or it could have been built in a neo-art-deco style?).
For those interested, the McCord museum will be exhibiting the photos of celebrities along with other collected memorabilia.
What Montreal has truly lost is not just a restaurant, but a representative and reminder of a bygone era.
posted by Odin on Apr 08, 2009
'Maximum 40' by Brad-514, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License
A few weeks ago, I read about the approval of an Island-wide slowdown law. Apparently, the Quebec government has given its blessing to lower the speed limit to 40 km/h across the island, including the demerged suburbs.
Is it just me or do laws like this make you feel like your government takes you for an imbecile? Or for an irresponsible baby that needs diapering and pampering way into its adult years!
So first, we’re not allowed to turn right on red lights. Next, we’re not allowed to use our cell phones while driving (mixed feelings about this one). Now, we have to drive at an impossibly slow speed of 40 km/h. What’s next? Maybe we shouldn’t be allowed to turn our head to talk to our side passenger! Or, how about banning scratching oneself while driving? Better yet, they should just forbid us altogether from removing either hand from the steering wheel, even if for one second!
The one that really kills me is the prohibition from turning left from a two-way street into another two-way street. What in the world is this? For an immigrant that has driven elsewhere, this comes off as completely insane and pointless! The worst is when you’re going south on Peel, and want to turn left on Sherbrooke. Nope, no can do! Instead, I have to go down all the way to traffic-ridden Sainte-Catherine, turn left there, and go back up Mansfield, thus wasting six blocks!
I’m all for safety for everyone, but how come we as Montrealers need stricter rules than everyone else? Are we dumber than Europeans, where speed limits are higher, red light turns are allowed and accidents are less frequent?
I mean, seriously, I don’t think I can possibly drive at 40 km/h on a two-lane street if traffic is light. I actually need to think about it and exert some effort to keep my foot off the pedal. In fact, I might become more dangerous and accident-prone driving at 40 km/h, because of how focused on my speed I would have to be. Wouldn’t the frequent glances at my dashboard distract me from the cars and traffic around me?
Good thing I sold my car. I’m sticking to biking and public transport. Not only is it greener, but it’s better for my sanity. I might just lose it next time they come up with one of these gems. Not to mention how hard and expensive it is to park downtown nowadays.
posted by Odin on Mar 04, 2009
Today I am starting a series on my blog. I will call it the “What's the deal with" series (yes, I am a huge Seinfeld fan). In this series, I am just going to rant and vent off about one service category at a time. These rants will not necessarily be based on recent episodes in my life (which is how a blog normally functions), but rather they will summarize my lifetime experience in dealing with professionals in each service category concerned.
To start off the series, today I will tackle auto mechanics! I hate these guys with a passion! Along with dentists, they form my most hated professionals out there. What do the two have in common, you may ask? They both pretty much ‘force you' to take action and pay for something that you don't always really need. They both have this ability to guilt-trip you if you don't follow their recommendations. And the worst part is that you have NO IDEA what they're talking about (if you're not a tool-head, which I am certainly and regrettably not). They can tell me I need a new “Johnson rod" for all I care, that it would cost me a couple thousand bucks, and I wouldn't be able to argue with that! (Seinfeld reference again).
I always thought that having a friend that's a mechanic is a friendship worth more than GOLD! The problem is that most mechanics out there are just plain dishonest, ESPECIALLY the ones working for dealerships! They suggest repairs that are not necessary, they over-charge for parts and supplies, and they more than overbill you for labor!
I used to take my car to the dealer for oil changes, regular checks and repairs. I always knew they were ripping me off, but I liked their location downtown near my work, plus their shuttle service was pretty useful. I mean come on, they used to bill me an hour for an oil change! Everyone knows that can be done in fifteen minutes, 20 if you're slow!
I also once took my car in for a water leak on my rooftop. They fixed it for their usual outrageous price, and the next day when I picked it up, while I was still in their parking lot, the “Check Engine" light was flashing. I go back inside to complain and report this, and now they want to start a new “work order" and pretend like it's a “second" problem that I did not report the previous day when I brought my car in. I told they guy at the counter “listen, buddy, that light wasn't there yesterday!". So now it was my word against his, so I decided to take my business elsewhere.
As if that wasn't enough to teach me a lesson, I actually brought my car back in a year later for something completely unrelated. My car was producing a faint, grinding noise from around the rear axle area. After their diagnostic, they slam me with a work order containing 4 items (3 of which had nothing to do with my original problem) for a total of around two thousand bucks! That was enough for me. I took my car to this independent mechanic that a friend referred me to, and he told me that it was all a bunch of crap I could do without. He suggested I get one of the items repaired, and took a couple hundred bucks.
Now I'm not saying that this new guy is all honest and perfect, but so far I haven't had any major issues with him. The point is, I hate mechanics, and I would consider never buying a car again just so I can avoid them for life!
about the blog
MTLRants© is Seek Odin's brand new blog, bringing you entries from our staff and other contributors. The blog will cover topics and issues related to SeekOdin's central themes. Mostly, it will deal with the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with service-related businesses in Montreal.
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