Posts Tagged: Transportation

Urban Quick Stop provides a living laboratory to study the challenges of last-mile delivery

A multidisciplinary collaboration between academia, industry and government will explore the potential of new modes of transport, such as zero-emission e-bikes, to reduce emissions, traffic congestion and more

The Purolator Urban Quick Stop is the home of a new multidisciplinary collaboration between industry, academia and government that aims to explore innovative solutions to the challenges of last-mile delivery. (Photo: Tyler Irving, U of T Engineering)

A partnership between U of T Engineering, Purolator and the City of Toronto has resulted in a new installation on campus: the Urban Quick Stop. The pilot project offers researchers such as CivMin’s Professor Matthew Roorda an innovative way to study the challenges of last-mile delivery. 

Prof. Matthew Roorda

“As online shopping has become more common, the pressure on all forms of package delivery has increased,” said Roorda, who serves as Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee for the Smart Freight Centre, a collaborative research hub focused on improving the movement of goods across the Toronto Region that includes members from several universities, as well as from government and industry. 

“At the same time, new modes of transport are becoming available, including some that offer benefits such as lower emissions. This new project is a great opportunity to gather the detailed data we need to quantify their benefits.” 

The Purolator Urban Quick Stop is built inside a standard 40-foot shipping container. It arrived on U of T’s St. George Campus earlier this fall, fitting neatly into a parking space provided by the City of Toronto. It is the second Urban Quick Stop to open in Toronto, following an earlier installation on Spadina Road. 

One of its functions is to act as a convenient hub for customers who live or work near campus to drop off or pick up their deliveries; in fact U of T students are being offered a 50% discount on shipments sent to or from the new hub. 

But the Urban Quick Stop can also facilitate door-to-door deliveries via the use of specialized delivery e-bikes. These three-wheeled vehicles replace larger traditional delivery trucks for the critical last few kilometres of a delivery journey. They offer many potential benefits: for example, they take up less room on the street, are easier to park and produce no harmful emissions. 

Packages arrive at the Urban Quick Stop once per day, where they are either held for the recipient or loaded onto the e-bikes. Deliveries are then completed using the dedicated bike lanes on nearby roads. 

“Our partnerships with universities and municipalities have helped us make tremendous progress against our research and development initiatives,” said Ricardo Costa, Purolator’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. 

“We’ve been able to respond to the increase in challenges of urban delivery and heightened focus on sustainability through more efficient network designs and electric vehicles. Now, working with the University of Toronto and the City of Toronto, we can further reduce traffic congestion, deliver more efficiently and eliminate the need for parking our trucks in Toronto.” 

“This Urban Quick Stop not only offers nimble pick up and drop services, but also gives us the insights we need in developing sustainable last-mile delivery options in dense urban areas,” said Barbara Gray, general manager, Transportation Services for the City of Toronto. 

“Coupled with other work the City is doing to improve shipping and goods movement, this innovative pilot will make deliveries greener, faster and cheaper.” 

Professor Roorda and his team plan to conduct an extensive analysis of the impact of the pilot project using data collected in a variety of ways.

Professor Matthew Roorda (CivMin) speaks with Urban Quick Stop e-bike courier Jaybie Nepomuceno. Data gathered from Urban Quick Stop and its e-bikes will enable Roorda and his team to evaluate its impact on traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and more. (Photo: Tyler Irving, U of T Engineering)

For example, the Urban Quick stop will be outfitted with AI-enabled traffic cameras provided by Bosch, which will assess the impact on traffic congestion. To look at the climate impact, the team will use emissions sensors provided by Geotab, which will be attached to the e-bikes. 

“This really is a living laboratory,” said Roorda. “As we gather the data and observe how the new system operates, I think we’ll gain some really valuable insights that will facilitate further innovation in more sustainable and efficient freight transportation across the region.” 

By Tyler Irving

This story originally posted by Engineering News

Farvolden presents deputation to City of Toronto about On-Street Logistics Mini-hub Pilot on St. George Street

Illustration of mini-hub. (Purolator)


Dr. Judy Farvolden

Mobility Network Executive Director Dr. Judy Farvolden deputed to the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee on item IE30.12 in support of a “pilot project of up to eighteen (18) months to provide on-street curb-side access to a logistics mini-hub to operate in a parking layby on the west side of St. George Street in the vicinity of 60 St. George Street” at their meeting May 25, 2022.


“The St. George Mini-hub Pilot study project is one of 24 projects in CLUE: City Logistics for the Urban Economy, a five-year project funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. CLUE is led by Professor Matt Roorda and involves ten researchers from U of T, McMaster University and York University.

“Transportation Services is participating in several CLUE projects that align with the Freight and Goods Movement Strategy and the City of Toronto’s Vision Zero, emissions reductions, and congestion management goals.

“The item before the committee “On-Street Logistics Mini-hub Pilot on St. George Street” is one of those projects. It supports those goals and represents progress towards two of the seven recommendations in the Freight and Goods Movement Strategy.

Prof. Matt Roorda

“The St. George Mini-hub Pilot study will 1) test the value of allowing motor assisted bicycles to have heavier, throttle operated electric motors and 2) explore business arrangements with courier companies to pilot the use of pick-up and drop-off locations in repurposed parking spaces, in this case, on St. George Street.

“In this pilot study, Purolator Courier will replace delivery trucks in the study area with e-cargo tricycles operating from the ‘microhub’ on St George Street.

“The study area is Bathurst on the west to Bay Street on the east, Bloor Street on the North to College Street on the south.

“U of T is facilitating access to power for the hub and leading the collaborative research project.

“Over the course of the 18-month study, CLUE researchers will collect data on package deliveries, electricity charging, routes used, and parking tickets received, monitor the pilot project for performance, costs, safety and sustainability and interview Purolator truck and e-cargo tricycle drivers, micro-hub staff and other key stakeholders.

“St. George Mini-hub Pilot study is an excellent example of university-industry-government collaborative pilot studies to explore novel practices in a planned and controlled way that results in evidence that can inform future decision making.

“Purolator’s intention is to deliver more efficiently and sustainably, with reduced pedestrian conflicts and truck parking and traffic impacts. The project is expected to demonstrate the potential for e-cargo tricycle deliveries from similar hubs across downtown Toronto, and potentially other locations in Canada. This pilot is therefore an opportunity for the City of Toronto to showcase its leadership in addressing congestion, climate and safety issues.

“And so, the St George Street mini-logistics hub also furthers “adaptability,” the seventh of the seven goals of the Freight and Goods Movement Strategy. “Adaptability” is the ability to identify, anticipate and adapt to emerging trends, innovations and risks affecting the freight and goods movement industry. It is an excellent example of collaborative work being undertaken to identify, anticipate and adapt to emerging trends, innovations and risks affecting the freight and goods movement industry.

“We look forward to this project, to reporting the results in 18 months, and to future opportunities to support the City in achieving its goals for equitable, sustainable and prosperous mobility.” – Dr. Judy Farvolden


By Pat Doherty

This article first published on the UTTRI website

Read: Agenda Item History IE30.12.

Read: Dr. Farvolden’s Deputation on On-Street Logistics Mini-hub Pilot on St. George Street, May 25, 2022.

Watch and listen: Video recording of Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting, May 25, 2022 on YouTube.

Read: “Toronto may be getting a cool new solution to missing your package deliveries,” BlogTO, May 25, 2022.



U of T researchers win TRB Urban Freight Transportation Paper Award

Diagram of the winning proposal.

Congratulations to University of Toronto authors Tufayel Chowdhury, James Vaughan, Marc Saleh, Kianoush Mousavi, Marianne Hatzopoulou, PhD, and Matthew J. Roorda, PhD, who received the Best Applied Research Paper Award for their paper “Modeling Impacts of Off-peak Delivery in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area” from the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Urban Freight Transportation (AT025).

The research was sponsored by The Atmospheric Fund, Region of Peel, City of Toronto and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

The paper award was presented at TRB in Washington, DC on January 10, 2022.

Originally posted by UTTRI

Hossain wins Jim Davey Award in CTRF 2021 student paper competition

Sanjana Hossain was awarded the Jim Davey Award—the top prize in the PhD category—by the Board of Directors of the Canadian Transportation Research Forum (CTRF) for her paper “Exploring the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Bicycle-sharing Demand in Toronto” at the CTRF 2021 Student Paper Competition.

Sanjana Hossain

Sanjana Hossain

Sanjana is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering working under the supervision of Professor Khandker Nurul Habib. She expects to graduate in 2022.

The award comes with a cash prize of $1,000 and a complimentary one-year CTRF membership for Sanjana and her supervisor. Since an extended version of the work is currently under review by a journal, the award-winning paper will not be published in the CTRF Proceedings of the Annual Conference.

About Sanjana Hossain

Sanjana earned her MSc and BSc degrees in civil engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Her research interests include data fusions for travel behaviour analysis in emerging contexts; transport modelling using Big Data sources; and travel survey methods. She is also an expert in econometric modelling and transportation policy analysis.

As part of her PhD research at U of T, Sanjana investigates the feasibility of combining travel data from multiple active and passive sources to generate more detailed representation of passenger travel. She believes that such detailed data is the key to obtaining reliable future estimates of demand and provides better understanding of the complexity of travel choices in the emerging context.

Sanjana’s personal experience using Bike Share Toronto during the pandemic triggered her curiosity, ultimately leading to her award-winning research paper.

I started using Bike Share Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic as it allowed me to maintain social distancing while travelling, and get some exercise at the same time. With the availability of dedicated bicycle facilities like bike lanes and cycle tracks, I found biking throughout the city quite safe and comfortable. This got me interested.

I decided to investigate how the demand for Bike Share Toronto evolved during the pandemic in Toronto, and identify the key socio-economic, land use, built environment, and weather factors that influenced that demand.

Sanjana says that participation in the paper competition pushed her to compile and present her research findings:

Participating in the CTRF student paper competition encouraged me to document my research and share the findings with a wide audience.

She finds that receiving positive feedback on her work is inspirational:

Winning the competition validates my research approach and motivates me to extend my analysis further.

About the paper competition

The Canadian Transportation Research Forum (CTRF) Student Paper Competition is an annual event to award prizes for student papers. The primary focus of the paper must be directly related to a specific transportation practice or policy. Papers must be original work written by the student applicant only, not co-authored with a faculty supervisor. More than one student may write a single paper, and if a group paper is awarded the prize, the award will be divided among all student authors. Prizes are awarded for the best papers at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. The CTRF retains the right not to make an award in any category in any year.

About CTRF

The Canadian Transportation Research Forum (CTRF), established in 1965, is an organization of professionals in transportation drawn from a variety of disciplines and occupations including representatives from transportation companies, shippers, federal and provincial governments, consulting firms and universities. The membership shares a common belief in the importance of transportation research and education for both the private and public sector.

Recent work by Sanjana Hossain

By Pat Doherty

Story originally published by UTTRI

Elmorshedy wins 1st prize in ITS Canada 2021 student essay competition

Lina Elmorshedy took first prize at the fourth annual ITS Canada Essay Competition with her essay “Evaluating the Impacts of Adaptive Cruise Control Systems on Congested Urban Freeways and Emphasizing the Need for New Traffic Control Strategies.”

Lina Elmorshedy

Lina is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto.

Lina is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto working under the supervision of Professor Baher Abdulhai. She expects to graduate in 2022.

She received the award on November 29, 2021 at a virtual presentation event at the ITS Canada 2021 Winter Conference. The event, hosted by Ryerson University’s Professor Bilal Farooq, Chair of the 2021 ITSC Student Essay Contest, was livestreamed and recorded. Lina presented live, talked about her essay, and answered questions. As first prize winner, Lina received $2,000 cash. The competition was sponsored by International Road Dynamics Inc.

Lina’s essay pertains to the theme “Challenges and Innovation in a Changing World” and discusses the impacts of ADAS in conjunction with Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication capabilities representing Connected and Automated Vehicular Systems (CAVS) which would undertake vehicle functions and ease the driving task further. She posits that the introduction of CAVS will transform the future of transportation, and there is a need to quantify the effect of such technologies on congested urban transportation systems and potentially steer their effect in a positive direction by implementing appropriate traffic control strategies.

About Lina Elmorshedy

Lina Elmorshedy received a BSc in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of Alexandria, Egypt in 2008. From 2009 to 2013, she worked as a network engineer in Egypt, before going on to earn an MASc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2016.

About her research, Lina says:

My research focuses on modelling vehicular automation technologies, first to quantify their impact on the transportation network and second to develop traffic control strategies to overcome the challenges introduced by the advent of such systems in addition to exploiting their opportunities to reduce freeway congestion using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques.

She says that participating in the essay competition was a valuable experience.

The ITS Student Essay Competition was an opportunity to write up and present my research in a story format suitable for a general audience, and explain things simply—which promoted my understanding as well.

I am truly honoured by the recognition and beyond grateful for the support offered by ITS Canada. – Lina Elmorshedy

About the essay competition

The competition promotes the ITS expertise, experience and interests of young researchers from Canadian universities. The essays are intended to connect academic research to real-world transportation issues.

Submitted essays were reviewed and scored by an ITS Canada expert panel of judges. Winning essays are judged to be of high quality and relevant to the ITS industry.

About ITS Canada

In addition to hosting this student essay competition, ITS Canada further supports young researchers by hosting an Education Roundtable and a Young Professionals panel session during their annual conference.

ITS Canada defines Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) as the application of advanced and emerging technologies (computers, sensors, control, communications, and electronic devices) in transportation to save lives, time, money, energy and the environment.

By Pat Doherty

Originally posted by UTTRI


Toronto’s COVID-19 bike lane expansion boosted access to jobs, retail: U of T study

A study by U of T Engineering researchers found Toronto’s temporary cycling infrastructure increased low-stress road access to jobs and food stores by between 10 and 20 per cent, and access to parks by 6.3 per cent (photo by Dylan Passmore)

With COVID-19 making it vital for people to keep their distance from one another, the city of Toronto undertook the largest one-year expansion of its cycling network in 2020, adding about 25 kilometres of temporary bikeways.

Yet, the benefits of helping people get around on two wheels go far beyond facilitating physical distancing, according to a recent study by three University of Toronto researchers that was published in the journal Transport Findings.

Bo Lin, Shoshanna Saxe, and Timothy Chan.

PhD candidate Bo Lin (MIE) with Professors Shoshanna Saxe (CivMin), and Timothy Chan (MIE), all of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, used census, city and survey data to map Toronto’s entire cycling network – including the new routes – and found that additional bike infrastructure increased low-stress road access to jobs and food stores by between 10 and 20 per cent, while boosting access to parks by an average of 6.3 per cent.

“What surprised me the most was how big an impact we found from what was just built last summer,” says Saxe, an assistant professor in the department of civil and mineral engineering.

“We found sometimes increases in access to 100,000 jobs or a 20 per cent increase. That’s massive.”

The impact of bikeways added during COVID-19 were greatest in areas of the city where the new lanes were grafted onto an existing cycling network near a large concentration of stores and jobs, such as the downtown core. Although there were new routes installed to the north and east of the city, “these areas remain early on the S-Curve of accessibility given the limited links with pre-existing cycling infrastructure,” the study says.

In these areas, the new infrastructure can be the beginning of a future network as each new lane multiplies the impact of ones already built, Saxe says.

As for the study’s findings about increasing access to jobs, Saxe says they are not only a measure of access to employment but also a proxy for places you would want to travel to: restaurants, movie theatres, music venues and so on.

A map of Toronto’s bikeway network with colours representing the route’s level of stress (image courtesy of Bo Lin)

The researchers used information from Open Data Toronto and the Transportation Tomorrow 2016 survey, among other sources. Where there were discrepancies, Lin, a PhD student and the study’s lead author, gathered the data himself by navigating the city’s streets (as a bonus, it helped him get to know Toronto after moving here from Waterloo, Ont.).

“There were some days I did nothing but go around the city using Google Maps,” he says.

For Lin, the research has opened up new avenues of investigation into cycling networks, including how bottlenecks can have a ripple effect through the system.

The study, like some of Saxe’s past work on cycling routes, makes a distinction between low- and high-stress bikeways to get a more accurate reading of how they affect access to opportunities. At the lowest end of the scale are roads where a child could cycle safely; on the other end are busy thoroughfares for “strong and fearless cyclists” – Avenue Road north of Bloor Street, for example.

“It’s legal to cycle on most roads, but too many roads feel very uncomfortable to bike on,” Saxe says.

For Saxe, the impact of the new cycling routes shows how a little bike infrastructure can go a long way.

“Think about how long it would have taken us to build 20 kilometres of a metro project – and we need to do these big, long projects – but we also have to do short-term, fast, effective things.”

Chan, a professor of industrial engineering in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, says the tools they used to measure the impact of the new bikeways in Toronto will be useful in evaluating future expansions of the network, as well as those found in other cities.

“You hear lots of debates about bike lanes that are based on anecdotal evidence,” he says. “But here we have a quantitative framework that we can use to rigorously evaluate and compare different cycling infrastructure projects.

“What gets me excited is that, using these tools, we can generate insights that can influence decision-making.”

The U of T team’s research, which was supported by funding from the City of Toronto, may come in handy sooner rather than later. Toronto’s city council is slated to review the COVID-19 cycling infrastructure this year.

ByGeoffrey Vendeville


This story originally published by U of T News

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