Thursday, April 17, 2008

YVR, YYJ, SEA & PDX (Vacation & Microsoft MVP Summit)

So I've been away from Toronto since last Friday.

I've finally taken some time off work to head down to the Microsoft MVP Summit [see MVP Summit 2008 press release] down in Seattle. However, since I was going to be on the west coast, I decided to visit three other cities in the immediate area, that being Vancouver, Victoria and Portland.

Vancouver and Victoria are two cities in British Columbia. I got to see a couple of friends, Andy Devlin, a former schoolmate (and even a student of mine), and Karen Penate, an elementary schoolmate whom I actually haven't seen for almost 18 years. It was great to see both of them, as well as having a chance to quickly tour around both cities. Thanks to the two of them for their hospitality.

This is the third time I've been to Seattle, but the first time that I've actually taken the time to tour around the city. The MVP Summit has been great. We got to see a lot about the future direction of Media Center, the product in which I have been awarded as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP). When the time is right, I will blog about those items in further depth. Thank you, Microsoft, for bringing everyone together. It was great to meet the product team on the Microsoft side, and it was also great to see the other Media Center MVPs that could make it (Corey Gouker, Jesse Lin, Mike Garcen, Peter Stagman, Andrew Cherry, Richard Miller, Dana Cline and Barb Bowman [I don't count my brother, only because I see him everyday lol]). It was too bad some of the other Media Center MVPs could not make it (Chris Lanier, Ian Dixon, Brian Socha, Nigel Barker, Peter Near, Doug Knox, Anthony Park, Niall Ginsbourg, and Michael Hancock). Perhaps next time!

Tomorrow, I head out to Portland before returning home to Toronto on Saturday night. I'm looking forward to seeing the effects of land use planning and transportation planning in this city (the planning geek in me comes out, after the computing geek in me had its fun).

It has been an amazing trip been an amazing trip (aside from my laptop deciding to break down 2 days into the trip), and I wish I had more time to really experience each of these cities to its fullest. That will be for the future!

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Rob MacIsaac in Toronto Life article 'Toronto's Traffic Time Bomb'

Here's an interesting article in this month's Toronto Life.

The article, titled Toronto's Traffic Time Bomb, features an interview with Rob MacIsaac, the chair of Metrolinx, the regional transportation authority created in 2006 by Queen’s Park.

The article paints a picture of the dire straits of Toronto's current traffic situation and presents a some suggestions for potential improvements. The most extreme idea is to road-price everything, including implementing a parking tax, while a more moderate suggestion would be allow single-occupancy vechiles to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for a fee. The vehicle to implementing this pricing system would be via a wireless satellite monitoring system.

This wireless satellite monitor system has been developed by a Toronto company called Skymeter Corporation. This system makes it possible to record a vehicle’s every move, including its parking times and locations, making both toll booths and parking meters obsolete. Every car would have to be fitted with a transponder.

If this system is implemented, it has the potential to be infinitely tweakable for every conceivable detail. In terms of road pricing, different roads can be charged at different rates, and rates can vary by time of day. Fuel-efficient cars could be charged a lower rate than gas guzzlers. From a parking standpoint, with the constant monitoring of the location of cars, a parking tax could be implemented. Rather than pricing a trip, the tax would be implemented on the parking location, as people will be less inclined to drive somewhere they can not afford to park. A parking tax is easier to administer, and Skymeter claims it has the potential to generate more revenue than road pricing ever will.

David Miller, the mayor of the City of Toronto, is also mentioned in this article, and brings forward the idea of putting a road charge on the express lanes of the 401, something I had discussed last year in the blog posting ''More HOV lanes planned' Response'.

Either way, no matter what happens, it willl be interesting to see what ideas are brought forward and ultimately, what solutions are implemented to solve these traffic issues, both within the City of Toronto, and on a broader Greater Toronto Area scale.

Rob MacIsaac will be speaking about his work with Metrolinx and the broader topic of Transportation in the GTA at a couple of events coming up this week. They include:

It is not too late to sign up for these events if you are interested. For more information, please visit the above links.