technology

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles in Toronto

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles will soon be a reality on Toronto’s streets.

Earlier this spring, I requested Transportation Services draw up specific recommendations on how the City of Toronto and its various divisions can prepare for the arrival and expansion of autonomous vehicle technology.

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I want to make our city a leader in transportation planning and innovation.

Driverless cars could be available in North America in significant numbers as early as 2020. By 2030, up to 15 percent of new cars could be fully autonomous. As of January 1, 2016, Ontario became the first province in the country to allow companies to road test autonomous vehicles.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles into our society is going to bring new opportunities and new challenges – that’s why it’s imperative that Toronto make strategic decisions now to shape the changing technological future of our city.

You can read my motion by clicking here.

Staff will be reporting back to the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee by the end of this year, so stay tuned!

New Online Tools: MyWaterToronto and PlowTO

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’m pleased to share that the city has recently launched two exciting new online tools: MyWaterToronto and PlowTO.

Technology has become a constant in our daily routines and the city is jumping on board – we’re mobilizing start-of-the-art technology to improve customer service and save Torontonians time, money and resources.

With MyWaterToronto, residents can view their water use information anytime, anywhere via computer or mobile phone. The city’s new automated water meters send water consumption data directly to the city several times a day and effectively eliminate the need for property owners or city staff to take manual readings.  Right now MyWaterToronto is loaded with more than one billion water readings!

Because residents can track how much water they’re using, they can better understand their water use, identify potential leaks and consider ways to save both water and money.

On PlowTO’s webpage, thanks to GPS data, residents can see the real-time location of plows, sidewalk plows and salt trucks. This tool gives Torontonians a better sense of when and where the city’s fleet of service vehicles have traveled during and after a winter storm.

During my two terms in office, I’ve fielded a number of inquiries from residents about winter operations and high water bills. So far the feedback I’ve received on these new web-based tools has been overwhelmingly positive.

Harnessing technology to provide better and more transparent city services is clearly a big step in the right direction for Toronto.

Phase 2 of Toronto’s Congestion Management Plan

As Chair of Public Works, I was pleased to announce Phase 2 of the city’s Congestion Management Plan with Mayor Tory.

As Chair of Public Works, I was pleased to announce Phase 2 of the city’s Congestion Management Plan with Mayor Tory.

There’s no doubt that traffic is top of mind for Toronto residents. Congestion costs our city almost $11 billion-a-year in lost productivity.

Getting Torontonians moving was one of my top priorities in the first year of Council’s new term and it remains so going forward.

For that reason, I was pleased to help announce the next phase of the city’s congestion management strategy earlier this month.

In 2015, we launched a number of initiatives to combat gridlock, including:

  • A zero tolerance policy on illegal parking during rush hour on key corridors
  • Improved traffic signal coordination
  • Enhanced road closure reporting
  • Increased fees for road closures related to private development

On this last initiative, I led the charge last spring to clamp down on private construction by increasing fees for street occupation. Those fees have now increased from $5.77 per square metre per month to between $26.35 and $105.41 per square metre per month.

This year the city is building on 2015’s successes and mobilizing state-of-the-art technology and innovation to combat gridlock. This second phase involves:

  • Developing a comprehensive curbside management strategy to better manage competing demands on our curb space
  • Upgrading the city’s “smart” traffic signal system so that it can better adapt to real-time traffic volumes
  • Developing and implementing action plans for 10 congestion ‘hot-spots’ across Toronto
  • Expanding the existing Smart Commute program, which helps employers encourage different commuting options for their staff

An essential component of the 2016 plan involves the use of Big Data, or vehicular probe data, which I helped bring forward last winter.

You can read my motion here.

Big Data has enabled staff to identify the city’s most congested intersections and corridors and will aid in the development – and implementation – of context-specific, evidence-based action plans to improve traffic flow.

You can read more about 2016’s congestion management initiatives here.

For an update on the city’s long-term Congestion Management Plan, click here.

Relief Line Study

The Relief Line Study is moving full-speed ahead!

The terms of reference and public consultation plan were approved at City Council last week.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this joint city and TTC effort is studying possible station locations and routes for the first phase of the Relief Line. The first phase would take pressure off of the overcrowded Yonge line by providing a subway connection between the Bloor-Danforth line and downtown.

Earlier this year, the city and TTC held a number of public consultations to introduce the study and get feedback on how it should proceed.

As part of the next phase, staff will look at the right transit technology for the line and invite the public to participate in a naming contest for the Relief Line. In early 2015, staff will release a long list of station locations and route alignment options for consideration.

For more information, please see http://www.regionalrelief.ca/city-of-toronto/.