Workshop reviews new technologies, trends, and the transport-land use system

Toronto aerial view
Aerial view of Toronto (Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel, Pexels)

On November 12, 2021, a second interactive workshop was hosted by UTTRI associated faculty Professor Chris Higgins in support of “An Integrated Approach to Transit System Evolution,” a research project funded by a Knowledge Synthesis Grant on mobility and public transit.

The workshop, entitled “Reviewing New Technologies, Trends and the Transport-Land Use System,” explored new transportation technologies and their role in reducing transportation costs (potentially), as well as how COVID-19-related trends have changed travel patterns and our understanding of public transit’s role in the urban system.

In our previous workshop, we focused on reviewing that core evidence about how transportation and public transit can play that role in shaping the transportation-land use connection, shaping how cities form and then function over time.

That leads us to our second workshop here, where we’re interested in now taking a look at the present and future in terms of new transportation technologies and ongoing trends like COVID and how they might be reshaping that transportation-land use connection and the way we should think about it into the future.

And then our final, third module is a wrap-up where we’re going to try to integrate our thinking on those two aspects, the modules one and two, and arrive at some sort of integrated way of thinking about public transit in the post-COVID Canadian cities, the recovery and decades on into the future of reinterpreting this transportation-land use connection for what we hope would be integrated systems planning. – Professor Chris Higgins, Principal Investigator, “An Integrated Approach to Transit System Evolution.”

The final workshop will take place in December.


Four questions were discussed in moderated small groups. The diverse viewpoints of over 40 participants representing 21 organizations were collected and will be incorporated into the final research report.

  1. Are we close to realizing an integrated MaaS platform? How will MaaS change the way we utilize different mobility services, including traditional (e.g. transit, taxi) and self-supplied (walk, own bike, or car)?
  2. Which new mobility technologies will be the most impactful on the transportation-land use connection? Will they lead to more, or less suburbanization?
  3. How much of the COVID-19 related changes in workplace practices, locational preferences, and travel behaviour will be permanent?
  4. Do we need to rethink planning for sustainability (e.g. through transit and TOD) in the post-COVID and new mobility context? What should the role of government and planning be?


About “An Integrated Approach to Transit System Evolution”

Understanding the role of public transit in the wider transport-land use system of great importance for guiding effective policy and planning at all levels of government. While it is widely recognized that transit performs best when closely integrated with land use planning, recent transformational trends including new mobility technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic are fundamentally altering the way we think about transportation and land use interaction in cities. In response, this project seeks to conduct a targeted literature review and synthesis that revisits core theories, reviews recent research, and reinterprets the transportation-land use relationship in light of the challenges and opportunities that have occurred and are likely to occur over the next decade in Canadian communities.

“An Integrated Approach to Transit System Evolution” is supported by Co-PIs Professors Eric MillerSteven FarberAmer Shalaby, and Khandker Nurul Habib; collaborators Professors Shauna Brail, Sara Diamond (OCAD U), Michael Widener, and Antonio Páez (McMaster); and research assistants Billy Zhang and Yixue Zhang.

About Knowledge Synthesis Grants

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) collaborated with Infrastructure Canada to launch a Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition on mobility and public transit in 2020 to examine and synthesize existing knowledge on mobility and public transit issues.

Knowledge syntheses are comprehensive analyses of literature and other forms of knowledge on a particular question or issue. Knowledge Synthesis Grants are intended to support the synthesis of existing research knowledge and the identification of knowledge gaps. This call was particularly focused on the state of research knowledge emerging over the past 10 years.

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