Purolator Urban Quick Stop at U of T wins the 2023 ITE Toronto Project of the Year Award

The Purolator Urban Quick Stop on St. George Street at U of T with e-cargo tricycles (left) and a full-size delivery truck (right) transferring packages to the Quick Stop. (Photo by Phill Snel, CivMin)

The Purolator Urban Quick Stop pilot project at U of T has received the 2023 ITE Toronto Project of the Year Award for an academic-industry-government partnership. The project involves swapping out large, gas-powered courier trucks for e-cargo tricycles in downtown Toronto hubs, as part of a "final mile" solution plan to reduce pollution for deliveries.

The award from the Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE) Toronto Section saw Usman Ahmed, PhD (CivE PhD 2T2) and CivMin Professor Matthew Roorda accept the award on behalf of the Smart Freight Centre at the ITE Toronto Holiday Luncheon, held at York University on Thursday, December 14, 2023.

The 2023 ITE Toronto Project of the Year Award was presented at a luncheon on Thursday, December 14. A group photo shows (L to R) Eric Nevland (President, ITE Toronto Chapter), Dr. Usman Ahmed (CivE PhD 2T2, CivMin postdoctoral research fellow who is the U of T project manager of the project), CivMin Professor Matt Roorda and Mehemed Delibasic (Assistant Vice President Transportation Planning & Traffic Engineering, Egis Group - formerly McInstosh Perry).

Dr. Ahmed, managing the research project from the U of T side, is a postdoctoral fellow. Prof. Roorda serves as Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee for the Smart Freight Centre (SFC), a collaborative research hub focused on improving the movement of goods across the Toronto Region. Launched in 2019 with support from the Dean’s Strategic Fund, the Smart Freight Centre includes members from several universities, as well as from government and industry. Within the SFC, the City Logistics for the Urban Economy (CLUE) group is a large funded project with 12 research sponsors and three universities; it has 24 subprojects with the e-cargo project as one of the projects.

Purolator replaced delivery trucks on the U of T St. George campus, and in neighbouring communities, with e-cargo tricycles operating from a microhub launched August 22, 2022,. This pilot project demonstrates the potential for e-cargo tricycle deliveries with potential expansion to other locations across Canada. It is built inside a standard 40-foot shipping container, fitting neatly into a parking space provided by the City of Toronto on St. George Street. It is the second Urban Quick Stop to open in Toronto, following an earlier installation on Spadina Road.

A Purolator e-cargo tricycle in use along St. George Street July 2023. (Photo by Phill Snel, CivMin)

The endeavour has already demonstrated several benefits to society during its operation. First, researchers at U of T estimated a yearly reduction of about 2.7 to 3.4 tonnes of GHG and 7.8 to 9.8 kgs of NOx by replacing only one gasoline-powered truck. Second, it was found truck drivers were exposed to poorer air quality than the ambient air quality, which negatively affects driver’s health and is improved by using e-cargo tricycles. Third, using e-cargo tricycles eliminated truck conflicts and reduced the parking demand. Fourth, e-cargo tricycles have the potential to replace trucks without compromising operational efficiency. Fifth, the microhub, which also acts as a retail facility, is convenient for residents to drop off packages.

This award is given as a recognition for a significant achievement or contribution in the field of transportation engineering from the Toronto Section Area in the past year.  The winning project adds to the state of the practice by demonstrating excellence and innovation in the field of Transportation. The ITE Toronto Section 2023 Project of the Year jury comprised six selected (volunteers) judges considered specialists in the field of Transportation that reviewed the nominated projects (submissions) and provided scores based on the evaluation criteria established by the ITE Toronto Section.

Find out more about this award on the CLUE (City Logistics for the Urban Economy) website.