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56 transportation Articles | Page: | Show All

International experts will address Toronto's transportation challenges on Nov. 9 panel

Whether it's fights over bike lanes, road tolls, transit plans or the so-called "war on the car," the topic of transportation is never far from the forefront of Toronto's civic debate. Understandably so, considering that Toronto suffers the longest commute times in North America.

"Whether it's business leaders or poverty activists, commuters or seniors, everyone in the GTA wants better transportation options," stated Julia Deans, CEO of the non-profit agency CivicAction, in a recent release. "It's time we find a way to agree on how we can all help to make this desire a reality."

CivicAction has partnered with the University of Toronto's Cities Centre, the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Pembina Institute to organize a two-day symposium on transportation entitled Toronto Talks Mobility. The event will gather some of the most accomplished experts on transit from the GTA and around the world with visiting mayors to discuss our transportation options.

Speakers include Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary, transit expert Bob Stanley and George Hazel, author of the book Making Cities Work. Also on the bill are local planning experts Ken Greenberg and Paul Bedford, as well as transit experts from Calgary and Vancouver.

The event takes place Wed., Nov. 9 at Toronto City Hall and Thu, Nov. 10 at Artscape Wychwood Barns. Registration is open to the public through event pages here.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Rebecca Geller, CivicAction

Expanding R&D into electric car battery system creates 102 new jobs at Dana's Oakville operation

Just two years ago, a heat exchanger essential for the operation of lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles was developed in Oakville, Ontario, at the global battery R&D centre of Dana Holding Corporation. The exchanger is now featured in the Tesla Motors Sport, the Ford Focus EV and the Chevrolet Volt, as well as in new models from Hyundai and Kia.

Recently the company received a $2-million grant from the province of Ontario to fund ongoing development of such battery cooling systems, funding that the government and the company say will add 102 new staff to the company's existing team of 53. For its part, Dana expects to invest $37 million in expanding its Oakville research centre and its Cambridge, Ontario, manufacturing facility. It's also engaged in research projects with three Ontario universities.

"We're pleased to collaborate with the province of Ontario," stated Dwayne Matthews, president of the Power Technologies business at Dana, in a news release after the grant was announced. "Clean energy is a global need, and will require commitments from both public and private sectors to make alternative-energy vehicles more broadly available."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Lauren Tedesco, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Trade; Dana Holding Corporation

Markham's Novo Plastics gets $1 million loan from province for eco-friendly auto parts

Markham-based injection-moulded plastics manufacturer Novo Plastics, whose manufacturing facility employs 70 people in the GTA, has received $1 million in support for an innovative car parts line. The money, provided in the form of a loan facility, is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Innovation through its Innovation Demonstration Fund.

The company was founded in 2006 to design and manufacture parts for heating and air conditioning systems and for automobiles. It's products for cars aim to be more environmentally friendly than alternatives. Novo Plastics President and CEO Baljit Sierra said in a statement that the loan from the government will help fund the continued testing and commercialization of a muffler system that is lightweight and offers lower carbon emissions than traditional metal mufflers. "Novo Plastics in honoured to have this vote of confidence from the government of Ontario," Baljit said, calling it an "investment in advanced, green technology."

In its five years of operation, Novo Plastics has grown to fill an 80,000-square-foot headquarters in Markham that runs three production shifts, as well as establishing sales and manufacturing facilities in the US, Germany, India and South Korea.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Baljit Sierra, President and CEO, Novo Plastics

Ajax's Messier-Dowty draws $1.9 million investment in aerospace innovation, will hire 5

The Ajax, Ontario plant of Messier-Dowty Inc will be adding five new jobs immediately to its existing staff of 500 to work on an innovative new green innovation initiative. The company's Toronto-area plant specializes in the design and manufacture of aircraft landing gear, and is working on developing a more environmentally friendly way to apply and remove chemical coatings on the gear. If it proves successful, the technique could have applications in aircraft manufacturing plants around the world.

The project has drawn a $1.9 million investment from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation's Innovation Demonstration Fund. In announcing the funding, provincial minister Glen Murray said that the company helps "demonstrate how research and innovation help keep Ontario's economy strong while protecting our environment," a claim to global fame his ministry hopes to cement through direct funding. For his part, Bryan Teed, president of Messier-Dowty added to the statement by giving some credit for the company's success to the talent coming out of local universities--name checking Ryerson and University of Toronto--and praising the local industry. "Our location...is the centre of the North American aerospace industry, and that enables us to service our clients quickly and efficiently."

Messier-Dowty's 19,000-square-metre facility in Ajax employs 500 people, and has been in operation for more than half a century. It is now part of the Safran Group Messier-Bugatti-Dowty multinational aerospace empire.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ralph Benmergui, Office of the Minister of Research and Innovation

BIXI bike sharing service launches in Toronto with 1,000 vehicles

Toronto got its first bike-sharing service since the closing of Bikeshare several years ago, and the BIXI network -- established in Montreal, Boston, London, England and elsewere -- is offering a bigger, more financially sustainable service. As it launches, the service offers 1,000 bikes available at 80 stations around the downtown core. Members can use bikes for half an hour free of charge, and rent the bikes by the hour, returning them to a docking station when they are done. Non-member rentals are also available for tourists and residents.

The program signed up 1,000 advance members during a drive last year -- a milestone that meant they got a $4.8 million startup loan from the city of Toronto. The company will also rely on corporate sponsorships for revenue. Initially, it was announced that ING Direct would be the sponsor, but it now appears that Telus and Desjardins will have their branding appear on the bike-share infrastructure.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Marshneill Abraham, for BIXI Toronto

$26.6 million metal coating innovation project will see Integran technologies grow from 47 to 67

Integran Technologies of northern Etobicoke is embarking on a $26.6 million research project that is expected to create 20 new jobs at its Toronto facilities, bringing its workforce to 67.

The company is developing an environmentally friendly metal coating for airplanes, cars and other products that is designed to increase durability and longevity. Lighter than existing coatings, it should also reduce the weight--and therefore the fuel requirements--of vehicles.

Integran was founded 10 years ago as the evolution of a former branch of Ontario Hydro. Now a privately held company, Integran has grown from five to 47 employees over the course of the past six years, and has added 12 new employees in the last year alone, since we last wrote about them.

The project will be supported by a $4 million investment from the provincial government. Minister of Economic Development Sandra Pupatello calls Integran "cutting edge" and says supporting them is part of the province's drive to create a globally competitive business environment. Company president Rich Emrich says the investment from the province will help make it possible for the company to "reduce the impact that aerospace and auto sectors have on the environment," while helping his company create new jobs.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Leigh-Ann Popek, Office of the Minister of Economic Development; Rich Emrich, Integran Technologies

Electric car demo centre--and 8 charging stations--now open in the GTA

The California-based company Better Place, who promote the use of electric vehicles, officially opened their Toronto operations earlier this month.  As of March 4, the company is operating a electric vehicle demonstration centre at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works in the Don Valley just east of Rosedale, where members of the general public can learn more about electric vehicles and see a sample of a charging station.

The project, which received $1 million in funding form the provincial government, also includes eight GTA charging stations that will mostly serve participating corporate partners for now, located in Barrie, Toronto, Bowmanville, Markham, Vaughan and Ajax.

Better Place's North American VP, Jason Wolf, says in a statement that this type of project is part of setting the stage for "mass adoption" as the first-generation of electric vehicles rolls off the assembly lines. "This project highlights some of the key building blocks to get there: government leadership; public education; and a smart network system that scales and delivers benefits to the grid, rather than strains it." In addition to the provincial government, Better Places is working with the City of Toronto and regional utilities in the suburbs.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: John Proctor, Better Place; Leigh-Ann Popek, office of the Minister of Economic Development

Canadian Tire measures green: cuts emissions by 7,800 tonnes, expects to save $6M per year

Canadian Tire -- the Canadian retailing institution based in Toronto -- has embarked on an innovative sustainability strategy that measures both the environmental and business impacts of its green initiatives. The company says in an announcement that it introduced measures in 2010 that it expects will save the company $6 million per year in costs, while also diverting 610 tonnes of waste from landfill and produce 7,800 tonnes fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Tyler Elm, VP of business sustainability with the company, says that going green is key to profitability. "In fact we see it as a business strategy  that has environmental benefits rather than as an environmental initiative," he says. "This is based on innovation, value creation and generating organizational enhancements. We want to integrate it into our business operations."

At the same time, the company has announced the results of its energy production efforts: between 2008 and 2010 Canadian Tire claims to have generated enough energy to reduce greenhouse emissions by 41 tonnes through geothermal and solar installations. The 389 initiatives that the company has undertaken under the program include aspects that touch on transportation, lighting, heating, cooling and waste reduction.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Tyler Elm, VP Business Sustainability, Canadian Tire

York region opens first of 11 stations on its Viva rapid transit bus network

York Region's so-far-successful bus network, Viva, launched the next innovative faze of its development with the opening of Warden Station in downtown Markham on March 6, the first of 11 stops on its planned 35.8 kilometer Bus Rapid Transit Network. Branded VivaNext, the network features buses running on dedicated, separated lanes that could at some future time be converted to light rail if York Region decides it would be advantageous.

The entire network is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and the construction process is expected to create more than 11,000 jobs. Viva's bus service has consistently featured innovation since the launch of its conventional bus service in 2004 -- it was launched as the province's first transportation public-private partnership and from the start featured GPS navigation and real-time scheduling information for riders as well as the province's Presto card fare system, features the larger Toronto Transit Commission is only now implementing.

The entire network is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Dale Albers, York Region Rapid Transit Corporation

3D design innovators Javelin have added 10 staff recently, will add 5 more moving into new office

Oakville's Javelin Technologies has built a sturdy business out of selling and supporting SolidWorks 3D manufacturing software. The software allows manufacturing designers to model their products in three dimensions, run simulations and manage data. For Javelin, it's been a boon supporting the local automotive manufacturing industry. In the words of Managing Director John Carlin, "3D design makes our auto parts industry, especially tool, die and mould makers, more competitive in the global market. The production of digital models and 3D prototypes is the future of manufacturing."

And because of that prognosis, the future of Javelin also looks bright. Founded in 1997, the company has steadily built its reputation -- they are recognized as the number one SolidWorks reseller in Canada -- and has continued to grow steadily. In the past year and a half, they have added 10 new employees to their staff, bringing their total number of employees to 50. In April, the company moves into a new technology centre in Oakville, and will add five more new employees.

Carlan says that the team is "very excited" about the move -- which is perhaps overdue since they've been in the same location since 1998. At 12,000 square feet, the new office will offer roughly double the space of the old one. And Carlan takes the opportunity to use the news as a plug for his product. "As the leading 3D design software company in Canada we needed to have our building design as a usable 3D solid model. Our team has used SolidWorks as well as BuiltWorks to model up the building and the structure."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Carlan, Managing Director, Javelin Technologies

Innovative Composites Int. file three new patents, see 600% growth potential rebuilding Haiti

Toronto's Innovative Composites International was born in 2007 when some former Magna engineers struck out to find applications for a new type of thermoplastic material they had developed. The composite compound they developed, suitable for building things (shipping containers, houses) is lightweight, fireproof, hurricane-proof. As company spokesperson Clive Hobson says, the composite can be used to build "virtually anything" and is "virtually indestructible."

Now up to 22 staff members at the Front Street office and the Michigan manufacturing facility, the company brought its product out to market last year. Since then, it's started to see tremendous growth -- their materials have been used to construct a 125-foot pedestrian bridge in Chicago, and they just signed another contract for storage containers last month. All the while they've continued to innovate with their product line, as evidenced by their late-January announcement of three new patent applications.

But Hobson says the potential for growth an order of magnitude larger is on the horizon: the company is on the list of six finalists for contracts to rebuild the shattered country of Haiti in cooperation with the Clinton Foundation. While Hobson says there are a lot of "ifs and buts" remaining in the tendering process there, but the firm is optimistic that they and their partners may soon be constructing 5,000 or more homes using ICI's materials. "I'm trying not to use hyperbole, but that would be represent a 'home run' in terms of growth in revenue." Hobson says ICI would need to construct a new manufacturing facility to accommodate such an order -- and hire approximately 100 more staff (representing a sixfold increase in employees). A decision on the Haiti rebuilding contract is expected within the next 60-90 days.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Clive Hobson, Innovative Composites  International Inc.

Mississauga's Hydrogenics leads alternative fuelling world, gets Turkish fuel station contract

Recently Jon Dogterom, the resident cleantech expert at MaRS, wrote a blog post about the consistent superiority of hydrogen fuel cells as a sustainable energy source, and noted that "Canada has long been regarded as the worldwide leader in hydrogen technology -- a position we will need to maintain as the rest of the world starts to recognize hydrogen as a superior energy carrier." Dogterom singled out Mississauga's Hydrogenics as a likely key company in helping us maintain that position.

The GTA company is a world leader in the hydrogen fuel industry -- they've been at it for over 50 years -- with offices in five countries. In mid-January Hydrogenics announced that they had landed the contract for a hydrogen fuelling station in Instanbul, Turkey, the first in that country. Hydrogenics has landed five such contracts in the past year, and Hydrogenics President and CEO Daryl Wilson says that the number -- such stations are competitive in price with traditional gas stations at $500,000 to $2 million each, plus architecture and construction -- will likely continue to grow. "There's a hype cycle for new technologies," he says, when they become trendy in the press. Wilson notes that when that cycle arrived for hydrogen fuel in the 1990s, the industry was not yet developed enough to deliver on its promise. "Now we've reached the point where the cost side and the performance add up to commercial application that are viable. That's taken the past 10 years." Unlike conventional stations, of course, hydrogen stations, once built, manufacture the hydrogen on the premises from water and electricity.

Wilson points to a European transportation study announced in November 2010 that concluded hydrogen fuel cell technology was a key part of the continent's car production future -- and significantly, predicted that the cost of hydrogen fuel would be equivalent to gasoline and electricity by 2025. Wilson says the industry has already seen the infrastructure being set up for a hydrogen fuelling network in some locations -- Germany plans to construct 1,000 such stations across the country, of which Hydrogenics have built both of the two so far completed, while Hydrogenics has built eight refuelling stations in the Los Angeles area. Of the 220 hydrogen fuel stations in the world, Hydrogenics has build or is building 40 of them.

"This highlights the strength of Hydrogenics," Wilson says, "and the respect we have when it comes to hydrogen generation technology and hydrogen fuelling stations."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Jon Dogterom, MaRS; Daryl Wilson, Hydrogenics

New independently-produced iPhone app from Adam Schwabe show riders when next streetcar arrives

A new iPhone application called Rocket Radar shows TTC riders when the next streetcar will arrive at their stop. The application was developed and designed independently by Toronto interactive designer Adam Schwabe and is on sale at the iPhone App Store for $1.99.

Schwabe says that he'd been wanting for some time to create an application that would answer the question "Where's my streetcar?" (He notes wryly that sometimes the phrase would contain crude expletives.) But he says, "It wasn't until the City of Toronto and TTC released the Next Vehicle Arrival feed late last year at http://www.toronto.ca/open that the app became feasible." The feed provides real-time GPS data from streetcars in a format that allows independent developers to then use it in various other formats.

Schwabe works days as a designer for Teehan+Lax and developed the app in his spare time. For this project assembled a team including Jason São Bento, who executed the visual design, and Mohammad Kurabi and Jeremy Koch at nFuse Inc. to develop the application. Schwabe says the total time from rough sketches to finished product was about two months.

Schwabe says the data made available from the city was "absolutely critical" to delivering a project like this. "This is one of the best things the City of Toronto and TTC have done in years." He says he hopes this will be one of many apps that capitalize on the data initiative. "City officials need to recognize that Toronto is full of extremely talented designers and developers who are eager to build really cool applications, and just need the data to do so."

Schwabe says sales in the first week since the project launched have been "outstanding," topping the Navigation category in Canada on iTunes. He says that in many ways the project was a test for him to see how viable creating such an app with no up-front capital would be. Up next? "There's been a surprising amount of demand for an Android application, but for now, my plan is continue improving Rocket Radar, then I'll have some time to breathe and think about other platforms and future app ideas."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Adam Schwabe, Rocket Radar

Mississauga's Holcim, U of T and the province team up to test new enviro-friendly concrete

Portland-limestone cement (PLC) has been used in Europe for over 25 years, according Paul Ostrander, president of Mississauga-based cement manufacturer Holcim Canada, but it has never before been tested in Canada. This despite some strong sustainability points to recommend it: it generates lower greenhouse gas emissions in its manufacture than regular Portland Cement, and up to 10 per cent fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

So Holcim Canada has recently teamed up with researchers at the University of Toronto and the provincial Ministry of Transportation to run two trials on PLC in actual road projects. Video of the test is available to watch here.

According to U of T professor Doug Hooton, the testing has already shown a 33 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and there is no expected reduction in durability or effectiveness. The University of Toronto will be monitoring the trial sections over the next three years to evaluate its performance.

Holcim Canada currently employs 3,500 people in manufacturing products for the construction industry. In addition to it's Mississauga plant, it also owns a manufacturing facility in Joliette Quebec.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Junaina Saulat, Holcim Canada

Toronto traffic-fighting innovators Skymeter on the road to 4G

In June, we wrote about how Toronto-based tech start-up Skymeter is poised to revolutionize the traffic industry with its innovative, GPS-based system that allows for efficient parking and congestion charging. The company, based at MaRS in the Discovery District, has a device that can track and bill drivers based on actual use of their cars.

Now Skymeter has announced that they have joined the ng Connect Program to help develop services for next-generation, high-bandwidth technologies, including 4G networks and what is called Long Term Evolution technology.

Steve West, a founding member of the ng Connect Program, said that Skymeter has much to contribute to the multi-industry initiative.
"For example, we are very interested in collaborating on services that will improve the driving experience with easy and more accurate tolls and parking payments or improve air quality through better congestion management leveraging next generation 4G/LTE networks," he said.

JD Hassan, chief commercial officer with Skymeter, said in the announcement that his company will help the company lead innovation in the transportation sector. "We look forward to helping lead this change through the ng Connect Program, where we can join forces with other industry innovators to create services that will change the way we use our vehicles," he said. "We're excited to work with other ng Connect members to support that transformation with the creation of new business models and services, delivering benefits to consumers and enterprises while addressing key business and governmental issues such as parking, congestion and infrastructure funding."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: JD Hassan, Chief Commercial Officer, Skymeter Corporation
56 transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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