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Two Sides to the Transportation Equation

Posted by Daniel Hoornweg on July 02, 2015

Highway 404 (southbound) with HOV lanes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Toronto Pan Am Games missed a unique opportunity to provide the GTA with innovative transportation options

By now most people are aware of the new HOV lane restrictions on local highways. Many of us fume as we sit in traffic, maybe watch a car with one person zip past us as they flout the rules, or wonder why lane restrictions are still in place at 10 pm, or had to be brought in 11 days before the Pan Am Games begin.

Traffic controls like HOV lanes (high occupancy vehicles with either 2 or 3+ passengers), by design, limit supply. Governments are generally good at limiting supply as this tends to be an easy option. Much frustration often ensues.

Governments are rarely as good at meeting demand and providing an enabling environment for more proactive solutions. Meeting demand through innovative supply solutions is the other side of the transportation equation.

For example, when limiting road capacity through HOV lanes a region-wide app for easier carpooling could have been introduced (see UOIT researcher). As cities around the world grapple with Uber, a pilot could have been introduced during the Pan Am Games to help people get around – perhaps with an additional bus system travelling between density nodes where commuters could grab an electric mini-bus at a point near their residence to take them to a point near their workplace. A woman living in Ajax may not know people who work at Yonge and Eglinton to carpool with but nodal transit can make that connection for her.

This could have been a great time to try new initiatives – on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

By focusing exclusively on the demand side of the equation a unique opportunity was missed to improve GTA traffic. This was an opportunity for an innovative legacy of the Pan Am Games – an opportunity left out of the equation for now.


Filed under: Sustainability 101


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