A different approach to an Uber problem

It seems there’s no end to the Uber drama in Canada. Major urban centres across the country continue to debate how best to deal with the supposed ride-‘sharing’ service. Vancouver is leaning toward regulating the service, in a similar manner to taxis; Calgary’s already proceeded to do so. Montréal has banned the service until it can decide how to deal with it. Edmonton, Ottawa and now Toronto have passed bylaws to legalise the service, with conditions.

One possible approach that has received little consideration to date is co-optation. Given what appear to be the company’s future designs, that could prove a critical oversight.

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Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part two

Map 1 Usually take public transit to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_transit_Montreal
Map 2 Usually vehicle passenger to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_passenger_Montreal
Map 3 Usually drive vehicle to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_driver_Montreal

Source(s): 2006 Census (20% sample) topic-based tabulations

As previously discussed, variable-rate tolling as a means of moderating traffic congestion in Canada makes little sense. Unable to cite relevant research to support its “toll everything everywhere” proposal, the recent paper from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC) instead turned to reviewing anecdotal evidence from the USA, Canada and Sweden.

Notably, the Canadian examples referenced were Toronto and Calgary. As previously mentioned, the CEC conceded Toronto’s 407 ETR did not work as intended. The Calgary example, along with one from San Francisco, of a variable-rate parking scheme, has neither proven effective nor popular. Another example, of a distance-traveled toll scheme in Oregon, likewise neither proven effective nor popular (and highlights an important privacy issue). 4 of the 6 anecdotes CEC could come up with were ineffective and unpopular.

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Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part one

MTO_401_Keele_1970_2005

It’s déjà vu all over again. By extolling the virtue of variable-rate tolls on all highways and bridges leading into major Canadian central business districts, the recent paper by Montréal’s latest conservative think tank, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC), mimics the 2008 proposal by the even more conservative Montréal Economic Institute.

The latest proposal was dead on arrival. The recently elected Prime Minister of Canada had campaigned on a promise to scrap his predecessor’s toll plan for the new Champlain Bridge in Montréal. Québec’s Transport Minister, also the Minister responsible for the Montréal region, immediately scuttled the CEC proposal. In doing so, he succinctly made a point that all such proposals glance over: “What are we offering as an alternative?”

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Earth Day 2015: On 45th anniversary, little cause for celebration

If American television is anything to go by in the lead up to the 45th Earth Day anniversary (on April 22, 2015), there should be some concern about how many more remain to be celebrated. Given the increasingly unnecessary to downright unhealthy reasons for the continued exploitation of our limited natural resources, there seems little sense to the ever-expanding environmental destruction.

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Environment: 400 ppm CO2 and the ‘disconnect between what we know and what we do’

C02_400ppm-April_2014.
S
ource: The Keeling Curve, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

While observed CO2 concentration barely glanced it for the first time ever last Spring, the 400 parts per million (ppm) level was clearly breached last month (April 2014). The figure is a significant milestone. A plurality of environmental scientists have noted that exceeding the 400 ppm CO2 concentration levels will ” make it progressively more and more difficult to avoid further substantial climate change.”

Some critics simply dismiss science and scientists out of hand, to rather humorous effect (Doomsaying math whizzes just don’t understand capitalism Brian Lee Crowley, The Globe and Mail, March 21, 2014). Others proffer more thoughtful, nuanced equivocations. For example, some suggest if humans indeed had any impact on the rapid rise in CO2 concentration over the past half century, the human population explosion is the more likely culprit.

While there certainly is a historical correlation between population growth (PDF) and CO2 concentration, as the old adage goes, correlation is not causation. What that increasing population has been doing and, more importantly, how it’s been doing it has been the primary focus of most contemporary research on the topic.

So where does Canada fit into this picture? Facing increased scrutiny over its environmental record, it doesn’t help that Canada’s per capita fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are among the highest in the world, and, despite the country’s relatively tiny population, that Canada’s total fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are also among the highest in the world.

If there’s one thing Canadian policy-makers can hang their hats on, it’s that Canada’s overall share of industrial CO2 emissions hasn’t risen as much as some developing market economies’.