Toronto Council Candidate hears that parking is like prostitution

This video is hilarious. A pair of local voters tells Ward 30 candidate Liz West that cars are like hookers.*  If you push them off one street they show up on the next. Does that makes GM and Ford pimps? And you and I johns? 

* surely this was taped a few days before the prostitution laws were struck down.  Maybe they'll strike some parking laws down next.


Would Rossi's tunnel become a funnel to hell?

Yesterday, mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi set out an idea for a tunnel to funnel more cars more quickly into downtown Toronto. The online comments looked to be over 90% negative. Similar to the comments in response to tolling (and this tunnel would be tolled!). ZoooooomScreeeeeetchCraaaaaashBurrrrrrn.

Likely this idea was suicidal out of the gate, but I am glad he brought it up. It highlights once more the corner we have painted ourselves into with transit negligence, free-parking, and unfettered entitlement to tax-payer subsidized roads.

A toll on the Rossi Funnel could help pay for the new roadway – and keep it free flowing. But that would keep free roads 427 and DVP congested. Just as the 407 leaves the 401 congested. This tunnel would be a victim to triple-convergence within 18 months of opening:
  • spatial convergence: drivers who formerly used alternative routes during peak hours switch to the improved expressway;
  • time convergence: drivers who formerly traveled just before or after the peak hours start traveling during those hours; and
  • modal convergence: some commuters who used to take public transportation during peak hours now switch to driving, since it has become faster.
You can’t fix congestion with a new piece of roadway.

Even on opening day, it would do nothing to relieve downtown congestion without attention to parking.  In fact it will make it much worse.  If we fixed the parking problem by pricing it right, we could get the city out of debt and then build funnels.  Actually, if we priced parking right, you wouldn’t need the tunnel.  We could bail the city out of debt instead of burying it further.  People drive their cars for three reasons: they are cheap, transit is terrible, and the personal vehicle is, well, personal.  If we addressed the first two, congestion would evaporate and our municipal debt could be addressed.


The Wheel: From Mobility to Connectivity

The automotive experience is undergoing rapid change. Having essentially evolved into a local area network of computers on wheels, the automobile is now poised to become an Internet node. One kind of intelligent transportation system (ITS) – known as the Connected Vehicle – based on 4G networks will provide new levels of traveler services, convenient payment services, real-time safety features, low-cost infotainment, and new types of social computing applications. In aggregate these will serve to optimize mobility, reduce congestion, make driving safer, healthier and more enjoyable, and make payment for road use, parking and insurance fairer and more convenient.

Skymeter's contribution to the Connected Vehicle consists of private and anonymous payment services based on Financial-grade GPS (FGPS) applications. These services will permit drivers to pay only for the insurance they need by paying per mile or kilometer traveled, only for the parking they occupy by paying by the minute, and only for the roads they use by replacing fuel, registration and property taxes with time-distance-and-place fees, allowing lower rates for off-peak driving.

Paying only for what we use is not only fairer to the consumer of roads, parking and insurance, but has the powerful effect of putting more control over the cost of mobility into the hands of the driver. How often have you sat in congestion on a roadway burning more in fuel and fuel tax than you would have if the road were uncongested? How often have you returned to your parked car with money still on the meter – or worse, how often have you returned a few minutes late to be greeted by a $25 or $40 parking fine? How often have you taken transit, a shared ride, a sick day, or a week’s vacation but paid your automotive insurance anyway? Have you ever parked your Smart Car beside a Cadillac Escalade only to pay exactly the same parking fee?

Road authorities say they need more money while motorists say they pay too much in fuel taxes. Insurers want to raise rates but motorists say insurance costs too much. Parking fees continues to climb while drivers cruise to find cheap spots.  We say it is expensive to drive, but the problem is we pay the wrong way.  We pay for roads by the tank full, insurance by the year, and if you can rationalize all the ways you pay (and don’t pay) for parking you deserve the Nobel in micro-economics.

Connectivity will help alleviate this mobility problem in three ways. Strong connectivity is important for fixing how we pay for mobility, enabling fairer and more transparent ways to pay only for what we use. Connectivity enables the information we need to choose less congested routes and times, to find parking spots and without circling and hunting. Most importantly, connectivity enables the network effect of dozens of other applications related to safety, traveler services, and infotainment that provide motivation for the innovation and markets that will drive the costs of delivering payment services down to 2% or 3%  – a rate that closer to the collection of fuel taxes (1%) than to the current collection costs of insurance, tolls and parking fees (10%-70%).

What we are about to see is that the Connected Vehicle will provide a critical platform for correcting the key economic problem of wrong-payment for mobility – a problem that gives rise to increasing funding unsustainability and congestion.


Dialogue Mapping and Congestion

I have mentioned, earlier, “Wicked Problems” as a thought paradigm useful in thinking about congestion, road-pricing and the use of road-use metering for allocating road use fees, in this blog over the past months.  Here, here and here.

We are often called to address these kinds of problems in debates, studies or academic conferences.

This talks about the failure of conferences for advancing solutions for really entrenched problems. This says conferences about congestion and road funding, however necessary, may not produce sustainable results soon enough.

This talks about a powerful way to reach a rational consensus about a problem before attempting to derive solutions. This says that we may not be able to reach a shared understanding of the problem if we continue business as usual.