Transit’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic may take a little more than filling subway seats. As cities grapple with the post-pandemic commute, the provincial government is offering additional relief funding, but with a catch: Toronto must consider swapping resource-heavy routes out for microtransit solutions. An on-demand alternative to costly transit routes, microtransit may be a more accessible and affordable option, linking transit with operating partners from the rideshare space.
Smaller municipalities such as Innisfil have had success with a subsidized rideshare-transit option, but it’s unclear how this will work in a large city like Toronto. Safety concerns have proven to be an obstacle for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, and COVID-19 has stalled the city’s vehicle-for-hire driver training accreditation application process. It seems like the province’s desire to level up microtransit comes when the city is struggling to implement its rideshare safety protocols.
For those sticking to private vehicles, there may be a new highway to cruise. Ontario has presented the GTA West Highway – to be known as the 413 — which will cut across York, Peel, and Halton regions. While still in a consultative phase, the four-to-six-lane highway is already drawing a lot of criticism with Environmental Defence lobbying to cancel the project. While much may change in the coming years, the Ontario government projects that the 413 will see more than 300,000 vehicle trips per day by 2031, servicing users with intelligent transportation features, trucking, parking, and transit infrastructure. Vroom vroom.
Some good news from the streets: this has been the safest year for Toronto’s cyclists and pedestrians in over a decade. With the lowest number of fatalities since 2007, the city is hitting its midyear marker in stride. Experts caution the results are limited given the pandemic-related changes to commuting. There’s been a surge of new bikes, scooters, and pedestrians on the road, demonstrating a preference for active transportation over public transit. However, consider this a PSA: as cities head back to school and work this fall, expect roads to get a lot busier. Newer cyclists still getting a feel for the road, out of practice drivers, and stressful commutes may create a perfect storm of road-related risks. Hitting the road? Do it with focus, patience, and compassion.
Tech may be helping keep streets safer as well, but not all features are created equal, survey says. Vehicle owners recently weighed in on their 2020 vehicles, spilling the beans on what tech features they love and hate. The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study saw Volvo snag a top spot for the innovation category — a great nod for the safety-centric brand.
While vehicle owners love on-board cameras for the different viewpoints, there is a growing distrust of “active drive technologies” — think autonomous-like control actions such as accelerating, braking, and steering. Designed to make driving easier, respondents cite frustrations with learning and deploying the technology, especially as it differs vastly between vehicle models and brands. Perhaps the autonomous future isn’t as rose-coloured as we’d like to think?