Toronto Traffic Ranks 6th in North America | Traffic Congestion Index

Everyone that lives in Toronto knows that Toronto’s traffic is among the worst in North America. Thanks to the Tom Tom Congestion Index, we now know that Toronto is the 6th worst when it comes to gridlock.

The Tom Tom Congestion Index neatly summarizes traffic information into one, easy-to-read percentage. Basically, they look at regular travel times and then compare those with the increase in time during congested periods. The increase in travel time during peak times is expressed as a percentage and voilà, they arrive at their primary point of comparison.

As you can see in the chart below, North America has a congestion level of 18%, which compares favourably with other parts of the world. However, Toronto, and especially Vancouver, are quite a bit above the North American average when it comes to traffic congestion.
Traffic Congestion in North America

According to a recent article in Canadian Business (The End of Gridlock), traffic is costing cities like Toronto billions of dollars. The economic and social price of traffic is undeniable and according to the CD Howe Institute, it costs the Toronto region between $7.5 to $11 billion a year. With new studies coming out with numbers like that, it is easy to see why politicians like Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Premier, are getting very serious about combating the problem.

The province is so serious about solving gridlock (and making some money in the process), that they are going to ram-through new means of taxing motorists in order to make it happen. The idea is that taxes that make driving more expensive will reduce the number of people willing to drive.

Although I do not necessarily agree with the effectiveness of a broad-stroke approach, I am a big fan of some suggestions, such as implementing fees for driving in key areas during peak times. That way you do not affect all drivers (not all of us are directly contributing to the problem — I, for one, commute against traffic, 15 mins door to door), with a focus on those that insist on being at the center of the problem.

What do you think about traffic in Toronto and other major cities? Should we begin taking drastic measures to put a stop to it? Leave a comment below.

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Rant: When will the television thievery end? Enter: OpenMedia.ca

Most people don’t speak kindly of telecoms and few people are more angry than Canadians. Our telecom oligopoly has created few options and left our wallets lighter for the privilege. Unlike years past, however, Canadians now have a place for their collective outcry.

The internet is the primary game changer — simultaneously offering additional media avenues while allowing Canadians to come together to voice their concerns with an industry that has been broken for far too long. OpenMedia.ca, an organization that leverages the internet and social media to rally Canadians, is a key component in the new movement against unfairness in the Canadian communications market.

OpenMedia “operates as a network of organizations and people who have come together to advance fundamental democratic principles that we feel should guide media, telecommunications, and cultural policy-making in Canada”. OpenMedia has successfully brought Canadians together across the country to fight for our rights and together we are winning.

Open Media - TV thievery
Soon this will be the only place you will find traditional television.

As a consumer of a wide variety of content (magazines, blogs, streamed content, traditional TV) I have long been displeased with the lack of adaptation and competitiveness of traditional TV services. My story goes likes this:

My apartment recently went under construction for a balcony upgrade. As a result, I was forced to cancel my satellite service or pay for something I could not use (all dishes had to be removed off the balconies). At first I went through a bit of TV withdrawal but adjusted surprisingly quickly. I went without satellite for nearly 6 months and  found myself getting by just fine with online services like Netflix and online streams.

There was one thing that I did not have easy access to: high-quality live sporting events. So I said to myself: “okay, I’ll get satellite again so I can watch my sports” (thinking it is that simple is such a cute thought in hindsight). The technician came by to set up my service and I soon found myself flipping through channels happily like I had almost half a year prior. However, I quickly realized/remembered something that will very well be a deal-breaker for me: you can’t watch some of the most important sports games unless you pay for the most expensive package as well as specialty offerings.

So here I am shelling out almost $70 a month for something that I have been able to do without for the last 6 months and I am not even getting the sole piece of value that I still exists with TV. Despite paying for a mid-tier package that comes with a variety of sports channels, many local games such as Leaf’s and Senator’s games are blacked out. The situation is laughable because TV is already largely replaceable so you would think they would make their one key offering more accessible to avoid an outflux of subscribers. Not so.

This is of course just one of many issues with TV as it is today but is enough of a reason to force me to abandon satellite once again.

It will only be a matter of time before the industry is shaken up enough to force serious changes to their model and I am hoping each of you can work with me to support OpenMedia.ca to help expedite these changes (along with the MANY other changes desperately needed in the telecom space).

Needless to say, I will be cancelling my service.

 

Update: there are solutions to getting NHL and MLB without cable.

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What Are Canada’s Biggest Challenges? Canada’s Top 5 Challenges

If I have said it once, I have said it a million times: Canada is the best country.

Of course we aren’t perfect; even the best struggle sometimes. So what exactly are Canada’s challenges?

Canadian Business recently wrote a great summary of the 26 things holding Canada back, and I could not agree more with most of the items that made the list. Let’s have a look at the top 5 challenges Canada faces moving forward.

1. Not having enough children.

I believe this issue to be two-fold. Firstly, people are having few children which is creating a large difference between working age citizens and those looking to retire which is going to put enormous financial strain on our system. Even immigration is not helping bridge this gap. Considering our entire health care system basically runs on the idea of having the young support the old (through taxes) this could mean a serious system collapse.

Secondly, the wrong people are having children. Anecdotally speaking, it seems that it is the most intelligent and educated families that have the fewest children. If the most intelligent and educated continue to have fewer children on average, we could end up with a brain drain situation – much like the extreme scenario portrayed in Idiocracy.

2. We are getting fat.

According to Canadian Business 60% of Canadians are overweight and 26% are obese. The U.S. still takes the cake – so to speak – as the fattest developed nation in the word, however, we are steadily finding ourselves pushed towards the top of the list. Putting on the pounds will further our healthcare problems and suppress our quality of life.

3. We are focusing on the wrong education.canadas-biggest-challenges-top-5

There is a shortage of tradespeople throughout the country and those with technical backgrounds are more in demand everyday. Unfortunately, a high proportion of people seeking higher education enrol in liberal arts our similar programs with a history of poor job market performance.

4. We are doing the wrong things online.

Despite spending more time online than any other country, we do surprisingly little business online. Consumers spend little online, but the bigger problem is that many Canadian companies are falling behind with their online strategies while other international companies are beginning to establish themselves.

5. We hate the rich.

Many Canadians are content being average – or somewhat above average. Collectively, Canadians dislike the idea of the very wealthy. There is just something un-Canadian about it. It would be better for all of us if we began to celebrate the (non-ridiculously) rich because many of them have done a lot for the country to get to where they are, like creating business, jobs and bringing money in from overseas.

Honourable mention: The Toronto Maple Leafs

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