Alcohol Delivery, Solar Vehicles, and a Highway Full of Wine

Alcohol Delivery, Solar Vehicles, and a Highway Full of Wine

We get into all this, and more, in this month's Dispatch.

Alex Kelly
by Alex Kelly
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Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia's monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know about safety. Hosted by Alex Kelly, Onlia's road safety expert, we're taking a look at a government snafu, updates to electric vehicles, and a tipsy wine truck on the 401.

Government: Decoded

While the Ontario government has been encouraging everyone to stay home, it is clear that the benefits of social distancing are creating huge headaches for transportation agencies, some of which experienced ridership drops by 90% during the heat of the pandemic. The province has committed $150M, a booster to the $2B already committed as transit life support. 

This funding announcement comes on the heels of a recent headline about Toronto’s transit agency, the TTC, reporting that they are losing more revenue to ridesharing services. Riders are thought to be opting for Ubers and Lyfts because they’re less crowded than subways and streetcars. This shift in transportation patterns may persist well beyond COVID-19, and something the city is actively trying to address in order to keep the transit agency online.

Toronto’s decision makers are clearly busy – while trying to navigate transit resuscitation and shifting pandemic lockdowns, they also have errands to run. Politicians, they’re just like us. However, there is a time and place for everything; something that Ward 14 Councillor Paula Fletcher didn’t realize. 

A recent Zoom council meeting, at which voting was on the agenda, saw Fletcher cast her vote while driving her car. Adamant that her aide was holding the phone, the rest of council was mixed in their reaction, with some calling for her to pull over, while Mayor Tory reasoning that Fletcher wasn’t technically in violation of any traffic regulations. Running one of the biggest countries in North America and driving a car are big responsibilities on their own.  For the record, we don't recommend multitasking behind the wheel.


Newsworthy

COVID has made a compelling case for the delivery of nearly everything. While many companies are cutting costs by focusing on core services, Uber is betting on delivery with its plans to buy alcohol delivery startup, Drizly. The $1.1B USD deal will be a big one, and will face plenty of regulation as it rolls out in jurisdictions. No word on Canadian delivery, yet.

Electric vehicles have been in the forecast for a while, but haven’t had the private consumer pick up yet. Some cite high prices as the problem, because of the most expensive part of the electric car – the battery. Disrupters and innovators have taken this challenge on, with plans of developing cheaper batteries. It’s forecasted that 18% of the world’s vehicle fleet will be electric by 2030, so investors are taking notice and putting money on the linchpin of the electric vehicle industry. 

Of course, if you wanted to cut the (charging) cord entirely, Aptera – a new entry in the electric vehicle market – recently launched preorders for a solar charging vehicle. While smaller than a normal car, and billed as a “never charge vehicle,” the San Diego company solves the problem of a lack of readily available charging stations. While this is one entry in the solar category, expect to see more big thinking to increase range, decrease prices, and deliver electric vehicles sooner than expected. 

Finally, if you’re still not convinced by the electric vehicle movement, hop in NYC’s Tesla Taxi. The yellow cab has gone electric, with the standard wrap and meter of a regular cab. With only one currently on city streets, the experiment has highlighted how unfamiliar but fascinated people still are with Telsa vehicles. While the pandemic may have you grounded, NYC residents are hailing rides to the future.

Self driving cars have long been a pipe dream for Canadians because, spoiler alert, the winter snow makes it difficult for autonomous vehicles to “see” the lane markings they use to navigate. Recently, commercial delivery company, Gatik, announced a partnership with the Ontario government to develop winterized technology that will allow self driving vehicles to make deliveries despite inclement weather conditions. 


Transportation Fails

Driving in inclement conditions should be something that comes standard with Canadian driver training, but slippery roads are still a struggle. A winter storm put a garbage truck on blast, with videos showing the truck careening down an icy road, smashing into hydro poles. Unfortunately, this truck made more of a mess than it cleaned up. 

Impaired driving is a terrible (and illegal) idea –  especially when it results in tipsy trucks. Recently, a  tanker truck full of wine tipped over on the 401 highway, a collision that was caused by an intoxicated driver of another vehicle. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries. Cheers to that. 


Down the Road

We can almost see a glimmer of spring, friends, and with that, a hearty goodbye to winter. But don’t abandon your winter best practices just yet – cold snaps and surprise winter storms may still be in the forecast. Experts recommend keeping those snow tires on until sustained, regular temperatures are over 7°C. Err on the side of safety and stow your snowbrush and winter safety kit in your car until you swap tires for the spring. 

 
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