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.

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