A multi-media collaboration with the Institute without Boundaries, Move: The Transportation Expo presents a series of displays exploring infrastructure and urban mobility, looking for inspiration from around the world – like Copenhagen’s cycling culture, Curitiba, Brazil’s light-rail system and Hong Kong’s rechargeable Octopus public transit card. While the exhibit focuses on what traffic-congested Toronto could learn from these solutions, it speaks to urban transportation on a global scale. Half the world’s seven billion people live in cities, after all.
In discussions and charettes staged over the past few months, architects and designers have sought to solve the various issues inherent in the exhibit’s five themes: energy, land use, infrastructure, health and environment. By 2050, transportation will be Toronto’s most energy-consuming sector, so it is clear that for environmental reasons cities need to come up with cleaner, healthier modes of transportation and build infrastructure that helps to limit sprawl. The only question is: What will that transportation look like?
“Move” presented one intriguing possibility: PAT (short for “People And Things”), a charette that foretells of a future when driverless cars link up with each other to form driverless streetcars. Shaped like a department store display case, PAT will likely not have much visual appeal for the average car aficionado, but it could resonate with the average commuter in the Greater Toronto Area, who now spends 80 minutes per trip driving to and from work.
That time, the argument goes, could be much better spent doing work, surfing the Internet or communicating with family and friends. This is all made possible by the theoretical vehicle’s window-slash-touch screen, which is designed to control all manner of functions.
It doesn’t take a transportation engineer to realize that mobility in the GTA is getting worse by the year and—if things continue unchecked—our children will experience a level of stasis we could scarcely imagine. It was heartening for me that my four-year-old daughter, who accompanied my visit, was eager to get back home and go for a bike ride.