When is the next bus route?

“Although people think building more highways will alleviate congestion, it actually increases it,” says Nicholas Savelli, a Brock University undergraduate student and urban geographer. He was speaking at Congress 2014 at a symposium on urban development.

Savelli and several colleagues have been studying the relationship between urban growth and public transit.

“Currently, 50 percent of world’s population lives in urban dwellings. By 2030, that will be 60 percent,” he said. “How do we make our cities smarter and more efficient? This is a global issue, and we are four undergraduate students. We wanted to localize things close to home. We monitored the change of land use and land cover in the cities of St. Catharines and Thorold. We wanted to determine if the St. Catharines public transit system meets the need of its future users.”

He’s interested in making better decisions about new public transit lines that reflect and serve an ever changing city.

His current data suggest that bus routes lag behind changes to the city – areas get denser or spread wider, and these changes are not reflected in local bus routes. The trick, he says, is to understand not just how things have changed, but how they will change.

“One of the big things is planning,” he says. “If we can draw people into the core, and provide a system that works for them, then we can develop more effective transit routes that alleviate congestion.”

He’s working not only on better data collection and analysis to inform decisions on public transit routes, but also is looking at ways to objectively measure the effectiveness of existing transit systems around the world.

“For the past half a century, we’ve had all this faith in the automobile,” he says. “I think that’s an opportunity for us to change, and correct our transportation networks.”

Like most university researcher, he is interested both in knowledge creation, and also in seeing to it that his insights and ideas have an impact. As his research continues, he and his colleagues are already in talks to develop a working relationship with the St. Catharines Transit Commission.

“I would love to see walkable cities, and cities where all forms of transportation have equal value – where public transportation isn’t perceived as something for second-class citizens,” he says. “In the information age, big data and smart cities are the way of the future. If we continue to lag behind, we’re not going to be able to realize this vision.”

 

Tagged: Community, Economy, Technology, Stories

Share: Print

Leave Comments

Blog Posts

A matter of will ...

Cherri Greeno | January 14, 2015

New research from the University of Waterloo explains why our brains often fail to turn intention into action, and why this gap can be overcome. read more »

Adjusting goals is not ...

Deborah Durbin | January 12, 2015

On January 1st many people set bold exercise goals for themselves as part of their New Year resolutions. Come Valentine’s Day, though, most of those goals have fallen by the wayside, tossed aside along with empty heart-shaped candy boxes. read more »

How to set realistic ...

Araina Bond (with files from Patchen Barss) | January 9, 2015

Making New Year’s Resolutions and sticking to them are two very different things. Two Ontario researchers have each discovered different ways to make reaching goals more likely. read more »

Let shopping be your ...

Noreen Fagan | December 18, 2014

Here’s a fun fact – Canadians eat more sushi than the Japanese. At least that’s what Mark Cleveland says, and he should know. Cleveland is a professor of marketing at Western University. His research focuses on the integration of cultures on a global scale and the effects of cosmopolitanism, which according to Cleveland is, “the cultural openness and the ability to successfully navigate between different cultural groups.” In other words, people who want to understand and experience other cultures do so by fully immersing themselves in that culture. “You want to live the life of cultural authenticity, by trying to understand the culture through that culture’s eyes,” he says. Cleveland’s interest in cultural openness started when he was a Master’s and then a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal. He started researching how new immigrants, primarily ethic minorities, adapted to Canadian culture by finding ways to combine their traditional identities, culture and values into mainstream society. “I have always believed that just because you learn another culture does not mean you give up the original culture. You can be bicultural or multicultural and the two can reinforce each other,” says Cleveland. “Not only are minorities affected by cultural exchange but the majority are as well.” Canada’s multiculturalism prompted Cleveland to extend his research into globalization, with a focus on how global cultures affect majority populations around the world. In the last decade Cleveland has conducted research in 15 to 20 countries exploring cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism. He says a person no longer has to travel abroad – although it helps – to become cosmopolitan. A person can experience different cultures in the comfort of their own home or neighbourhood, simply by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing videos on You Tube or buying and consuming different products. “When we buy products, and types of brands and the reasons for buying them, they are like extensions of ourselves,” he says. So how do the sushi–eating Canadians fit into all of this? Cleveland believes if a person wants to experience cultural authenticity they will gear their shopping towards achieving that aim. In other words, a person is not going to go for the North American version of sushi (think Californian Roll), when they can get the real thing – think Unagi. He says there is probably a general global trend towards cultural openness as people become more educated and have more exposure to other cultures but he warns, there is another side. “A lot of people are really opposed to what is happening with Globalization and they see their culture as under threat,” says Cleveland adding that the threat is heightened when people feel insecure. If people are feeling secure in their surroundings (financially, emotionally and physically), the more open they are to cultural exchange and the more cosmopolitan they become. Being cosmopolitan however, does not mean buying local is a thing of the past; in fact what makes cosmopolitans stand out is that they strive for cultural authenticity. “The more cosmopolitan you are means you are not only interested in preserving differences but also interested in the environment, like getting the best locally,” says Cleveland. In terms of cosmopolitanism Cleveland thinks Canadians are more accepting of other cultures. “We are a new country, most of us go back two or three generations and have one or two grandparents born somewhere else. We have a more fluid identity,” he says, adding that as large cities go, Toronto is well integrated. “We are not just living in these areas dominated by our own ethic group, there are more opportunities to mix, and I think that allows us to become more open-minded.”
More Blogs »