random thoughts to oil the mind

Category: Transport

[:en]On matters pertaining to public transport policy, at any level.[:de]Einträge über öffentliche Verkehrsmittel in jeglicher Form

Support for Renewables

We’ve had a pellet boiler installed at these premises for a number of years, and whilst generally pretty efficient and reliable, recently there were some problems which couldn’t be solved with the usual panache of just hitting it and telling it to work. The boiler, a 15 kW Künzel PL15, had got stuck in a de-ashing cycle and would only intermittently fire up before returning to this cycle. Unfortunately, the firm which installed the boiler had in the meantime gone out of business, and our only option was to send for an engineer from a neighbouring county, which took several days, before the unit could be looked at. It turned out to be a problem with the microprocessor controller, the piece of kit which maintains the boiler’s high efficiency, though obviously beyond our capabilities to solve without sufficient technical knowledge (even the engineer who appeared on site had to call back to base for instructions that weren’t included in his handbook).

Unfortunately there appears to be precious little information out there on the web. I spent some moments trying to find descriptions of problems similar to ours, or find a support forum for users of equipment such as ours where we could perhaps get some feedback, without success. That could of course come more as a result of my Googling skills than anything else. Do you know of any sites, forums or otherwise which deals with pellet boilers and their ilk? If not, is there enough call for one to be set up?

Finding Space for the Public in Transport

This is one of those posts which makes it to the draught stage and never any further, but as I was tidying up my WordPress install, I decided with a bit of reworking it’s something I still feel strongly about. The original title had referred to British public transport in particular, but in truth there is very little specific to the British experience.

Virgin Trains

Before I start my rant, let me plainly state that I am great supporter of the principles of public transport. That is not to say that I don’t see the use or take advantage of private transport, merely that I feel the balance in society is generally wrong, particularly in the first world, or whatever the preferred term is these days. These societies should be perfectly capable of providing for the vast majority of man’s annual miles, with our regular combinations of buses, trams, trains etc. and private transport being available to fill in the gaps where required. Being able to pack your bags, grab the kids and hit the road for a weekend away seems like a reasonable thing to do, but where is the logic of moving a ton of metal to work and back five days a week?

Airport Security

Airport Security

If there’s one thing that makes travelling by airplane an ordeal, it’s airport security. The fact that this is as oxymoronic as ‘British Intelligence’ is only half of the story, for that part of your journey which entails walking through the little arch that goes “bing” largely accounts for all the rest of the misery surrounding airports.

Now I can of course only pretend that this is a real ‘pet hate’—for starters, it is a pretty universal sentiment—since it serves its purpose pretty well. That of protecting innocent people? Oh no, there is no security at the airport per se! If you want to set off a bomb or open a phial of some contagious disease, in an area as crowded as the city centre, feel free. There are even bins provided for your convenience. But to make everyone feel safer about boarding the big bricks with wings, and of course for the protection of those big bricks with wings, passengers must arrive early, hand up their luggage for inspection, and file through security like cattle. Oh, and these days, of course you should throw away anything over 100ml!

When Is a Student Not a Student? When There’s Money Involved!

Example student card

How do you identify a student? Sounds like the opening to a joke, and in many ways this isn’t far from the truth. A great number of services and products come with discounts to students, and discerning who is eligible therefore requires a little more care and attention than simply looking out for tousled hair, hangovers, piercings and berets. Most higher education institutions produce student identification cards, which might double as library cards, security cards and/or university credit cards, amongst other things. However, the vast range of designs and stamps means that identifying a student card could prove as difficult as trying to identify a student by the first glance rule.

Ireland Avoids the Burdens of Public Transport

This weekend a radio talk show in Ireland was lamenting the state of the Irish road network, in particular focusing on the state of her road signs. Anyone that has driven through the country will understand how this seemingly trivial matter could be focus for an entire discussion. The cause of the problem was perceived to be the decentralised system of transport regulation, the result being a wide disparity between different parts of the country, and a generally poor system compared to European standards. The show received numerous SMS messages and emails highlighting more extreme examples, from road signs incorrectly directing traffic, through long stretches of road with nary a road-sign or indication of turnings, to the example of sections of road with conflicting speed limits, no doubt compounded by some complications in the changeover from miles to kilometres per hour.

Yet what was only mentioned in passing was that government initiatives to improve the transport network in the country can only be spent once, and ultimately further improvements to the road network must necessarily mean public transport receives less funding. One of the interesting statistics cited was that in Dublin, the only large urban centre, around 70% of commuters travel to work by private transport. Although unduly unfair, for the sake of comparison just consider the figures for the centre of London, which show the figure to be as low as 10%. Is Ireland’s public transport system underperforming?

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