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.