News

Local, national or global stories that are fairly interesting, screwed up, or guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Helping those in need

In response to the earthquake that devastated the island nation of Haiti, nephrus.net is providing links to reputable organizations committed to helping those affected.

For the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.ca/ (Canadian Red Cross) or http://www.redcross.org/ (American Red Cross) to donate.
For Doctors Without Borders, visit http://www.msf.ca/ (Doctors Without Borders – Canada)  or http://doctorswithoutborders.org/ (Doctors Without Borders – United States) to donate.

Stricter security measures for U.S. bound flights

If you’re flying to the United States anytime soon, be prepared for new security measures in light of Friday’s attempted destruction of a Northwest Airlines plane.

Passengers will undergo an additional search, which include a pat-down and inspection of carry-on luggage. The restrictions also include limiting carry-ons to one item only. Extra bags will be put on the plane as checked luggage.

Consider leaving earlier as there will be delays since the new processes will definitely slow everything down.

Source: News1130

More taxes on parking and driving

Vancouver-area residents are expected to be hit with additional taxes starting January 1st, 2010. Commuters will be paying extra for parking as well as filling up at the pump as TransLink tries to raise $150 million towards its operating budget.

The parking tax will remain until the new HST comes into effect on July 1st, 2010. After that, the tax will be merged into the HST and then given back to TransLink. The gas tax will add three cents to the current price at the pump.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Cell phone ban coming up

In one month, it will be illegal to use a cell phone or any other portable device while driving in British Columbia. The only exceptions are if the phones are set up to use hands-free adapters, such as headsets, one touch or voice activated devices.

Starting January 1st, 2010 drivers will face $167 fines and three demerits towards their license if caught using a cell phone, mobile device, or media player. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program will be prohibited from using any mobile device at all.

British Columbia will join Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador where similar laws are already in place.

CTA fare hike averted

Your wallet won't feel as light when taking transit.

Your wallet won't feel as light when taking transit.

A sigh of relief is being heard throughout the Chicago region as state and transit officials reached an agreement that would see CTA fares stay at their current prices.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn worked with officials to use capital funds, which are meant for new projects, expansion, and equipment upgrades, towards paying employees and for day-to-day operations. This deal would mean that the $3 fare to ride the ‘L’ would be held off.

The CTA is facing a $300 million deficit for 2010 which would increase over the next few years.

Sources: MSNBC, Chicago Sun-Times

SkyTrain service change in downtown Vancouver

Beginning on October 14th 2009, TransLink will be performing repair work in the Dunsmuir Tunnel on the route used by Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains, to address water seeping into the 77 year old tunnel.  This work is scheduled to be completed by December 11th, 2009

Starting at 9:45 PM PDT until the end of service, trains headed to Waterfront will stop at the Stadium-Chinatown Station. A shuttle train has been setup to run on the outbound track and will stop at Granville, Burrard and Waterfront Stations running on 12 minute intervals.

TransLink recommends taking an extra 15 or 20 minutes during travel during this time. SkyTrain Attendants will be available to assist during the service changes.

SkyTrain service will be running at normal levels on October 28th, November 5th, and November 11th, 2009. Canucks fans may experience some minor delays as the work also falls on a number of home games at GM Place.

Full details are available on the TransLink web site.

CTA Fare Hikes and Service Reductions

Passengers could be paying $3.00 for one of these.

Passengers could be paying $3.00 for one of these.

Chicago commuters are facing fare hikes and service reductions on the CTA. Due to declining sources of public funding and the current economy, CTA President, Richard L. Rodriguez, detailed changes for bus and rail service for the 2010 budget.

The good news is that no bus or rail routes will be removed. However, service will be at lower frequencies and either start later or end earlier – Night Owl and rush hour service will not be impacted.

Bus fares are expected to rise 25 cents to $2.50 and rail fares will increase by 75 cents to $3.00. Passes will also increase – $8 for the 1-Day pass, $18 for the 3-Day pass, $30 for the 7-Day pass and $110 for the 30-Day pass. Reduced and Transfer fares will remain unchanged.

All service changes and fare increases are set to take place starting February 7th, 2010.

This budget will be presented during a meeting in November 2009 to the RTA and Cook County Board. The transit authority must submit a balanced budget to the RTA before November 15th, 2009 and must be approved by the RTA before the end of the year.

See the full proposed budget on the CTA web site.

Google Maps Streetview comes to Canada

After a lengthy wait, Google Maps streetview is now available in select Canadian cities. Vancouver, Banff, Calgary, Kitchener, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax are now viewable online including most major and side streets. Canada finally joins the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and other European nations who use the streetview service.

Google Maps streetview is  great tool when trying to confirm a restaurant location or want to see if there’s bank or other point of interest near your destination.

Chicago loses the 2016 Olympics

Chicago

Chicago

The International Olympic Committee announced today who would be hosting the Olympic Games in 2016. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago, which was believed to make it to the final round of voting against Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; and Madrid, Spain, had been dropped after the first vote. Not even presentations from the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and various other celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, were able to woo the sporting organization.

Rio de Janeiro has been chosen to host 2016 Olympics, making it the first time the event has ever been held in South America.

SkyTrain ticket vending machines upgrade

TransLink is advising commuters using the ticket vending machines on the Expo and Millennium Lines that they may experience problems when paying with debit or credit cards. For the next six weeks, the ticket vending machines are being upgraded, and during this time debit or credit service may be impacted. However, those who are paying with cash shouldn’t expect any problems.

TransLink recommends bringing cash along just in case or to pick up FareSavers or FareCards from authorized vendors. Should you encounter any problems, try using another machine or inform a SkyTrain attendant for assistance.

TransLink will try and limit the interruptions during of peak hours of operation.

Source: TransLink

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