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TTC looking to innovate, grow ridership past 2014 levels

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board will meet on Thursday to discuss ridership — how to move customers more reliably, make public transit seamless, and innovate for the future.

It’s a big topic. The TTC doesn’t just want to retain their current ridership. According to the TTC, ridership hasn’t grown since 2014, with about 535 millions trips each year. They want to see it grow along with the changing network.

“Over the past decade, major shifts in demographics, travel behaviour and technology have changed how people travel in cities,” the report reads. “The transportation system has shifted from a traditional model of owning a car or using public transit, to a “mobility as a service” system where one either owns their car or accesses a sharedcar/bike alternative.”

The goal of the TTC will be to focus on reliability, mobility, and innovation in order to increase ridership. To do this, the board will approve three initiatives:

  • Provide more surface routes to relieve overcrowding on busses
  • Implement two-hour transfers
  • Implement a discounted fare for PRESTO customers combining TTC and Go Transit/UP trips.

These three initiatives were discussed months ago by the board, as well as city councillors, so chances are they will pass at the meeting this Thursday. Other ideas mentioned in the report include a U-Pass for students, partnering with car-sharing services, and launching public awareness campaigns.

The board will also discuss a corporate strategy that will create a five-year plan “to be a transit system that makes Toronto proud.” This plan focuses on moving transit quickly, including looking at measures similar to the King St. Pilot to relieve congestion on certain routes under the Surface Transit Priority Plan. “Measures that keep transit moving include dedicated right-of-way like we currently have on the 510 Spadina and 512 St. Clair streetcars: queue jump lanes that let transit bypass other traffic at key intersections and traffic signal priority, which reduces dwell times for TTC vehicles by holding green signals longer or shortening red signals.”

There is also a goal to be 100 per cent emissions free by 2042!

Toronto Mayor John Tory unveils new six-step traffic plan

On Monday morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory unveiled six new steps to unlock gridlock and combat traffic plaguing the city.

The steps of the new traffic plan centre around enforcement and technology — utilizing all of Toronto’s resources to help people move more efficiently. According to the mayor, the plan will build on the progress the city has made and the foundation created by the study of traffic hotspots last year.

Here are the six steps of the new traffic plan:

  1. The mayor wants to establish “quick clear squads” that will help fix temporary lane blockages on major roads like the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. The two rapid-response squads will help clear roads in the event of an accident, for example, to keep traffic moving.
  2. Creating full-time traffic wardens at congestion hotspots throughout Toronto. City staff employed a number of full-time police officers during their traffic warden pilot program earlier this year, with great success. By the first half of 2018, the mayor hopes to be able to maintain the program with city staff rather than police officers.
  3. Requesting utility companies like Toronto Hydro to confine non-emergency work to off-peak hours between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. This will reduce the number of lane closures during commuter hours.
  4. Sharing city traffic data with Waze next month to help both traffic operations and communicate traffic patterns to the public and blockages. Waze is a community-based real-time traffic and navigation app. The mayor announced a partnership with Waze back in June.
  5. Installing smart signals in November to help monitor the flow of traffic and change signal lengths in real-time.
  6. Asking city staff for a report on possible fine increases for traffic blocking offences.

“We owe it to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders to make sure our city moves in the best way possible,” the mayor said in a statement. “While we have made progress improving how you get around, we can always do more. I am determined to deal with the congestion choking our roads. I’m here today to highlight the next steps we’re taking to tackle Toronto’s traffic because you deserve a better commute.”

Metrolinx thinks to the future in new transportation plan

Metrolinx is thinking about the future — at least as far as 2041.

The board released their Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area at their Sept. 14 meeting, with the intention of gathering feedback over a 90-day public consultation period. The information they get will be considered for use in the final draft, which will be available in December.

By 2041, Metrolinx says over 10 million people will live across the Golden Horseshoe Area. The new transportation plan will move beyond The Big Move.

The report reads: “We need to plan for a future characterized not only by continued population and employment growth, but also by changing demographics (including an aging population), the changing nature of work, new transportation technologies and services, and the impacts of climate change. In short, we cannot stop.”

There are five different aspects of this new transportation plan.

  1. Completing delivery of current regional transit projects: Metrolinx is in the midst of increasing their Rapid Express Rail, working on the Hurontario, Eglinton, Hamilton, and Finch Light Rail Transit, as well as the York VIVA. Delivery is expected by 2025.
  2. Connecting more of the region with frequent rapid transit: The goal is to create 15-minute all day service so that people can get around the region without delay.
  3. Optimizing the transportation system to make the best possible use of existing and future transit assets: Metrolinx has determined that fares by distance is the most efficient structure. It also wants to ensure that more people take alternative modes of transportation on their way to use the transit system. Their goal will be to increase the number of people who bike, walk, or carpool from 38 per cent to 62-64 per cent.
  4. Integrating land use and transportation: This strategy will help create mobility hubs and new developments, with the goal of intensifying certain areas so that transit becomes more accessible. The designs wil encourage cycling and walking as primary modes of transportation.
  5. Preparing for an uncertain future: The plan encourages a regional approach to transit planning as opposed to municipal or private enterprises. Metrolinx will also continue to study new technologies to help reduce greenhouse gasses.

The public will be able to provide feedback at six regional roundtables prior to the final draft.

How to survive your final year of university

This is not your classic back to school article. Over the next week, most media outlets will post a guide for froshers or first- year students, but not Women’s Post. Today, I am writing for the seasoned student. Going to university is a big transition in any student’s or parent’s life. It is essential to be prepared when dealing with a completely new environment, but what happens when you’re almost at the end of the four years?  Students often need that extra motivation and a slight push to survive the daunting final year of university. By my third year the stress and assignments were overwhelming, and I was already worrying about if I would survive the final semester. With looming dissertations and logging co-op hours, there are certain things you should be aware of if you want to successfully survive your final year of university.

Plan It Out

Remember those useful school agendas they give you at the beginning of the school year? It’s time to use it and schedule your life properly. If you are trying to manage an internship along wth your final projects or thesis, it is wise to manage your time. You should essentially have a to-do list planned for every day, so you know how to properly divide your time.

Get Help

You know the ropes of the school and you should be familiar with all your professors and deadlines. Don’t become stressed; seek help or advice if you need it. If you need an assignment extension, most professors can be understanding once you put in the work. Their only goal is to mentor you to success.

Get Sleep

It might sound difficult to do, but by fourth year you should be over the ‘all nighters.’ The better your sleep quality, the more mental clarity you will have to execute tasks. If you plan out your schedule you can hopefully avoid having to stay up too late doing work.

Work Hard

This is your final lap. It is your chance to close off the four years the way you want to. If you’re not used to working hard, it’s time to do so now. You should make sure all your credits are in order and maybe even have a chat with your advisor to ensure you are on the right path to be cleared for graduation. There is a fun game my friends and I used to play in university called ‘’what’s the minimum percentage I need in order to pass this class.’’  It’s not a fun game. However, there are moments that you may feel this way. Just push harder and spend those extra hours at the library if you need to. You should also balance this out with friends, have study groups or enjoy your study breaks reflecting on how you made it this far. These are the little moment you will miss.

Play Hard

In addition to working hard, many believe you should play hard as well. Don’t feel guilty about taking a night or two off. Have fun — you are in your prime and you won’t get these university moments back. So if your school is hosting the usual mid-semester gala or pub night, give yourself a break and have a fun night off. If you don’t want to party, indulge in other fun activities of your choosing. Yoga is always a fun break and a way to distress.

The Future

So this is the miserable and daunting part that you want to avoid. Talking about an uncertain future. I know i’m not the only one to bring it up. By fourth year, almost every stranger you meet is going to ask you what you have planned for the future. Is it grad school ? Do you have a job lined up ? The questions are relentless and frustrating. The obvious choice is to block it out,  but you have to face this reality. If you’re thinking about graduate school, you should already be working on your application by the beginning of the final semester. If you need letters of recommendation from your professors, get on it because professors have deadlines too. As for the job hunting,the same applies. Get started as soon as you can but don’t give yourself unrealistic expectations. Many graduates don’t find a job they are happy with almost one year or more after graduation. Nothing can prepare you for the world outside of school.

Get Experience 

It is vital to get as much experience you can through internships and volunteer work while you still have the “student” label. These connections can help you build bridges for future positions and connections. Many companies hire from a pool of school-based interns, so this can be a good way in. The experience will also go toward building your resume.

Don’t Worry

Worry is a waste of time and as the quote goes, “You can’t change yesterday, but you can ruin today by worrying about tomorrow.” These words are more powerful than you know and it would be a shame to spend your final year of university so worried and stressed out that you miss it entirely. In my final year of undergrad there were many sleepless nights filled with worry and tears,  but I always tried to envision myself in my graduation gown , going up on stage to collect my degree. Guess what, it happened. The thing is by fourth year you’re burnt out and over it and you just want to be finished already. Just be patient, it’s going to take some time and it wont be easy. Don’t fill your final year with regret and stress. Instead have fun and enjoy the final moments. Laugh with your friends, explore your campus, network with your professors for future contact. It won’t hit you right away but when next September comes around and there is no back to school, you may be surprised how much you miss it.

Some of the best memories, moments, and friends can be made during your university years so enjoy it and cherish them.

 

How to prepare the perfect elevator pitch

Have an idea, project, or job you want to pitch to your boss? The best way to do that is in an elevator pitch.

Being able to say what you mean confidentially can take you a long way in the business world. Finding a way to do that in a timely fashion is a whole other matter. An elevator pitch is a brief speech that is generally under two minutes. It is meant to spark interest in you, your idea, and project or product. It can be hard, to take your big idea and sizzle it down into a two-minute pitch. You need to make it exciting and interesting enough that your boss takes interest of your idea, but detailed enough that he/she knows you have the information to make it work. Luckily, Women’s Post has you covered. Here are some tips for that perfect elevator pitch:

Write it out

Block off an hour of your time and write out everything you know about your project or idea. Getting things down on paper will help you focus your argument and find the most salient and relevant points about your concept. This will create the blueprint for the elevator pitch and will help to separate the important information from the useless facts that aren’t needed.

Find the Hook

Once the information is laid out on paper, find the hook, which is otherwise known as the most interesting part of the idea. It should be the part of your blueprint that makes your heart beat fast and makes you feel excited about the project at hand. The hook is your leading statement because it will invoke a sense of confidence and excitement when you say it. From there, you can describe the proposal in a concise and timely manner.

Present a problem and solution

Once you have presented your idea, outline the problem and solution that you are looking to solve with your unique idea. This can be done in a few sentences and will demonstrate that your idea is relevant and important. It also induces a sense of urgency to your pitch because it demonstrates that there is a problem that needs to be solved in the immediate future.

Here is example of problem-solution based thinking in action: Say I approached my boss and said I wanted to develop an app that told people where available parking was located in each neighbourhood. I would then follow to say that there are no apps that currently that tell people where available parking is, causing frustration, gridlock and even accidents while people drive around trying to find a place to park.  My solution would be to create an app that showed available parking per neighbourhood on a grid map, and would specify what type and how much the parking cost. This would help people find parking quickly and would be a popular app for drivers, which would then provide revenue to the company at hand.

Be natural

Confidence is key when delivering a pitch in under two minutes. If you lack confidence in your idea, your boss will sense it and may lose interest. The best way to avoid that is to practice, practice, practice! By preparing your pitch in advance and practicing on friend and family or in the mirror, it will make you more confident in what you are saying. Acting natural and happy about your idea will liken other people to it as well.

Be prepared for follow-up

If your elevator pitch is a success, then your boss will want more details. Be sure to prepare for that as well and have answers to any questions on hand. This may include questions such as financing, feasibility, and target audiences. To properly formulate extra information, prepare potential questions that could follow your elevator pitch so that you are ready.

This is something everyone should know what to do. If you don’t use this information to pitch a business idea, use it as a way to practice public speaking or brainstorming. The key, regardless of the circumstance of your pitch, is to be confident in your ideas. It could be the next million dollar win — if you only present it in the right way.

How would you prepare an elevator pitch? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.