UTTRI associated faculty Professor Shauna Brail comments in “Mobility tech offers cities enormous opportunities for helping residents get around – if they can avoid the quagmire,” The Toronto Star (Online), January 11, 2021.
The article examines many aspects of smart mobility which are in use or under development, such as Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas), autonomous vehicles (AVs), and curbside management.
. . . the pandemic has fundamentally altered the presumed uses for fleets of AVs operated by companies such as Uber or Lyft. “There are huge challenges right now with sharing anything,” says U of T geographer Shauna Brail, who studies the ride-hailing sector. Some of the big players, she notes, have slowed or closed their AV R&D operations.
The City of Toronto’s Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan, approved by City Council on October 29, 2019, is discussed. The plan to get Toronto AV-ready was created to try to maximize positive outcomes from AV adoption.
“We’re very proactive in thinking about [AV policy],” says Shauna Brail, the U of T geographer. “But it’s unclear how to regulate something that’s changing so rapidly.”
For policy makers, the takeaway is that it will be extremely important to keep close tabs on how transportation markets unfold in order to assess whether AVs are likely to increase congestion or exacerbate sprawl in urban regions. As Shauna Brail adds, all three orders of government need to be engaged in order to prevent or at least mitigate unintended consequences. “I think that’s really huge.”
The article by John Lorinc is part of the Toronto Star’s 2019-2020 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series on the politics and governance of smart city technology.