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The January Dispatch

See what's on the forecast for everything transportation and safety in 2020.

by Alex Kelly

Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia’s monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know! This month, we’re diving into what 2020 holds for transportation – including trends and our predictions – as well as some New Year’s resolutions that shouldn’t be too difficult to keep.

Government: Safety’s still on the agenda

To kick off the new year, the City of Toronto launched their proposed budget in early January, with infrastructure improvements still following us into the new decade. With the final vote to come in February, the transportation budget is heavily skewed towards repairing the ailing artery, the Gardiner Expressway. With 43% ($2.2B) committed to Gardiner rehab, the Transportation budget leaves only 3% for road safety. Transportation experts as well as city councillors are calling on the city to move into the 21st century, and reallocate funding support for road safety.

However, 2020 will see enhanced safety efforts when it comes to Toronto’s ride sharing industry. In step with municipalities around the world, Toronto is updating its vehicle-for-hire bylaws, regulating operations of ride share organizations like Uber and Lyft. As of January 1, 2020, ride share drivers will need at least three years of driving experience, and by June 1st, demonstrate successful completion of city-mandated training. Details are still being ironed out, but this update is expected to pose challenges for current ride sharing models.

With the new year brings new ways to optimize tech for road safety. Through Ontario’s Safer School Zones Act, municipalities are adopting stop arm cameras for school bus safety, designed to catch blow-by traffic offenders. This type of automated enforcement represents a shift to cloud-based storage for evidentiary material, and a step towards digitizing provincial government.

Automakers: Not just cars

As the vehicle market evolves towards ride sharing and alternate transportation options, it moves away from a private ownership model. Automakers are diversifying their product lines with a view towards this, and reimagining their roles for the future.

The race for a flying taxi is in motion, with Morgan Stanley analysts predicting adoption by 2040. While that may feel more Jetson-like than real-life, Uber and Hyundai debuted an aerial ride sharing partnership at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) of their flying car. It may seem a little far out, but it is also a sign that automakers are starting to evolve their thinking and shift from a direct-to-consumer product towards commercial partnerships.

Also at CES, Toyota debuted plans for a Smart City project at the foot of Mt. Fuji, Japan. Developed for Toyota staff, the city would house 2,000 people in a world full of integrated smart technology. Construction on the “Woven City” starts next year, while the Smart City project closer to home, Toronto’s Sidewalk Labs, is still waiting for a final decision, scheduled for Spring 2020.

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Micromobility: Evolving Compliance Models

Lime, the electric scooter company, started 2020 with a bang... of layoffs. Citing regulatory obstacles, amongst other issues, Lime also pulled out of 12 cities and let go of 14% of its workforce. While micro-mobility is seen as a promising trend, companies no longer stand to benefit from the “disruption” model heralded by ride share giant, Uber. Municipal compliance is the name of the game as cities reign in potentially dangerous new entries to the transportation sector. This year, new transportation solutions will work with cities to find mutually beneficial models – a process that may take longer, but will be more sustainable.

Electric Vehicles: Coming soon

While we wait for full vehicle autonomy to arrive (don’t hold your breath), the electric vehicles (EVs) market will continue to grow in 2020. Improved ranges and new applications allow for purpose-built EVs to capitalize on a share of the market. Ontario’s 2018 cancellation of the electric vehicle rebate may have slowed the consumer-driven sales of EVs, but experts predict that corporate use for EVs may take off faster, sooner.

Prime categories available for electrification in 2020? Think those with predetermined routes, such as delivery and transit. An uptick in EV deployment could see a related increase in land acquisition, as companies race to provide convenient charging stations for the expected fleet of EVs on the road, while Canadian automakers are calling for a repurpose of shuttered auto sector plants, shifting to electric and autonomous vehicle production and testing – all with the hope it will stoke the faltering automotive production industry.

New Year’s Resolutions: Learning from others

We want 2020 to be the safest year yet, and what better way to make sure it is, others than to make some safety-centric resolutions?

Hopefully this is one that should be fairly simple to keep: if you are in a collision on a highway, don’t attempt to cross active lanes of traffic. One man’s dash cam caught a pedestrian doing just that; a poor decision that caused a chain reaction collision on a busy provincial highway. Stay safe, and, if you can’t move your vehicle off the road, stay in your car until help arrives.

If you need help getting your vehicle off the road, promise us you won’t tag team with a passing truck; motorists were shocked to see a stone slinger truck push a sedan across two lanes of highway traffic, before seemingly leaving it on the shoulder. The resolution here? Stay aware, and stay clear of other vehicles.

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