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.

Continue reading “A different approach to an Uber problem”

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.

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

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?”

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

Canada’s (somewhat less) vast emptiness

In Canada, a lack of population doesn’t necessarily translate to a lack of roadway…

Canada_2011_RN

… as demonstrated by the Canadian road network map above.

A lot of Canada’s dirt-based wealth can’t be immediately transported via pipeline and/or rail. The remarkable expanse of road infrastructure through the northern Prairies and into the Territories (and, to a lesser extent, northern Ontario and Quebec) – from which a great deal of that wealth is extracted, but where hardly any Canadians reside – speaks to that.

That being said, Canada’s still pretty empty. Few today would choose to live much further north, given Canada’s bitterly cold northern climate. That climate also limits Canada’s dirt-based wealth potential, making it difficult to grow things in and/or dig thing out of all that land up there.

Climate change may ‘fix’ that in the foreseeable future, however. As one of our favourite Econ profs once not-so-jokingly put it (off-the-record): Canada has the most to ‘gain’ from global warming – which goes a long way to explaining its environmental policy, or lack thereof…