Top issues in Canadian transportation 2020 – 2021+

A collection of views from CILTNA’s National Board and its Education and Membership Committees

1. Bringing optimization theory into national supply chains (e.g., lean production end-to-end)  

(This is one way to increase mobility and throughput capacity)

a. Reducing variation in the system
b. Removing or reducing bottlenecks wherever they are in the supply chain, end-to-end (see also 1.3)
c.  Developing strategies to keep bottlenecked operations running at full capacity at all times
d.  Providing buffers (assets left partly idle) in optimal places in the system
e. Effective measurement

(Many “KPIs” are set without the benefit of theory governing performance that needs to be measured)  

2. Port and terminal operation

a. Synchronizing activities of interdependent operators, or ensuring 24/7 operation, in order to reduce variation, relieve governing constraint, and increase throughput (see also 3.3)

3. Drayage at ports

a. Complex, recurring problem that needs innovation to resolve issues of labour, port operation, and supply chain design.  Affects throughput.  (see also 1.1.b)

4. Supply chain equipment cycle

a. Understanding relationship between depth, duration, and shape of a major performance disruption, and the rate of recovery as gauged by equipment cycle (see also 3.1 and 4.2)

5. Interprovincial harmonization of truck regulations

(Reducing constraints (bottlenecks) in the transport system)

6. Resolving the policy paradigm:  should maximum mobility be the primary goal of transportation?

(The Canada Transportation Act implies there are eight equally-important goals; but only one of them can be primary.)

a.  Differentiating between goals and constraints

(The two are often intermixed, causing dysfunction)

7. Policy results in terms of mobility

a. Network optimization

  • will Canada Modernization Act lead to improvements in the system as a whole?

b. Budget 2017 Trade and Transportation Information System:

  •  what is being measured, what does it tell us, and do we have the right information to assess how the system is performing?

8. Bringing optimization theory into urban mobility

a. Supporting goods-movement in urban areas

b. Overcoming constraints to urban mobility

c. Measures to reduce congestion (congestion is not a problem, it is a symptom)

d. Managing access to transportation infrastructure to increase throughput capacity, e.g., with road tolls and ramp meters

9. Bringing proxy thinking into innovation

(KPIs, often poorly thought-out, are proxies for the desired end-state that should be the goal of innovation:  maximum mobility)

10. Managing provincial and regional barriers to trade

(Restricting free movement of goods reduces traffic volume, which reduces scale of transportation, which raises costs in form of pure overhead)

1. Digital data exchange

a. effects of large increases in speed, accuracy, and accountability of transmitting, approving, and recording information about imports, handoffs, and deliveries

b. Impact on supply chains of faster, more accurate customs clearance with CBSA’s new CARM functionality

2. Cybersecurity and transportation

a. Corporate and government responsibilities for security of:

  • driverless vehicles
  • UAVs (drones)
  • traffic control systems, e.g., for aviation, railways

3. Drone navigation

a. Providing navigation systems compatible with civil aviation and with interests and constraints of cities and supply chains (see also 3.4, 3.5, and 7.5)

4. Electric vehicles

a. Sorting out chicken-and-egg problem:  do increased sales “pull” the installation of more charging infrastructure, or vice versa?

5. Preparing for driverless (autonomous) vehicles

a. How fast are driverless vehicles actually coming?

b. Many or most current regulatory practices are based on a car-and-driver paradigm that does not cross over (e.g., responsibility for a vehicle’s maintenance over its lifetime)

6. Increasing regulatory flexibility and adaptability

a. Next-generation trucking:  take maximum advantage of its potential (see also 3.6, 3.7, and 3.9)

1. Supply chain recovery priorities

a. Decision rules used by Canadian Transportation Agency when adjudicating complaints about levels of service, air travellers’ bill of rights, etc. during period of recovery from a major disruption (see also 1.4 and 4.2)

2. Border facilitation

a. Balancing border security on one hand vs. low resistance to movement of goods on the other (see also A4)

3. Port and terminal operation

a. Using government influence, if and when appropriate, to encourage and ensure synchronized activities, or 24/7 operation, of terminals on federal land (see also 1.2.)

4. Drone deliveries in cities (see also 1.8, 2.3, and 7.7)

a. Setting and enforcing rules of the marketplace:

  • ensuring fair competition
  • avoiding or dealing with concentration of market power

b. Ensuring access to airspace by smaller carriers

5. Cross-border transport of goods by drones

a. New practices for customs clearance, documentation, cabotage, foreign operation in Cdn airspace, licensing (see also 2.3 and A4)

6. Bringing aviation model of safety governance into other modes (e.g., with numerical limits on accident probability)

7. Incorporating social-sciences research into safety and security governance

a. Setting limits for risk that reflect public perception of outrage  (Outrage is the primary driver of public perception of risk, not factual data.)

b. Dealing with the public’s desire to be protected from all risks (where is right place to draw the line on risk-reduction efforts?)

c. Establishing rules for responsibility in safety failures  (Current safety models attribute most failures to operator error, rather than to weaknesses in system design—a flawed assumption, now forced into the open by AVs.)

d. Establishing rules for ethical decisions in AV software

8. Updating governance regimes at the pace of technology-based change 

(Regulations are slowing the rate of Canadian innovation and retarding the relevance of education)

a. Finding non-regulatory alternatives for governance of marketplace activities

  • industry standards
  • codes of practice
  • economic incentives synched to society’s expectations

9. Increasing regulatory flexibility and adaptability

  1. Adopt proxy thinking in governance
  • Accelerate process of switching from low-level proxies (“prescriptive” regulations) to higher-level ones

10. Establishing a regulatory regime for driverless vehicles

11. Establishing a regulatory regime for cannabis

(Effects of THC on human impairment are highly unpredictable — half-life is 1.6 to 59 hrs!)

1. International trading patterns.

a. Effect of emerging trend of manufacturing shift from China to south-east Asia, e.g., India (hence increasing seaborne traffic to North America via Suez Canal and Atlantic Ocean) on:

– traffic at Canada’s west-coast ports, with possible loss of scale
– opportunities for traffic at Canada’s east-coast port(s) and Montréal (see also 5.1)

b. effect of changes in Canada/Europe trade from CETA, Brexit, and cooling of EU-USA relations (see also 5.1)

c. significance of proposed Laurentia container terminal at Québec City 

2. Supply chain recovery priorities

a. Decision-rules about sequence in which carriers, terminal operators, and warehousing and distribution firms serve shippers during recovery from a disruption (see also 1.4 and 3.1)

3. Managing demand, to maximize performance of freight transportation system

a. 24/7 operation throughout supply chains (see also 1.2)

b. Minimizing peak loadings

c. Scheduling access to finite capacity, à la air traffic control

d. Maximizing upstream visibility on end-customer demand in supply chains, to minimize the Forrester Effect (wild variations up and down “forecast-driven” supply chains)

4. Trade disputes, protectionism, and risks and threats to trade and transportation.

a. Disruptions in the economics of the marketplace; and in the volume of goods to be moved, patterns of movement, and structure of supply chains: 

(Lower demand for transport services?)

b. Do we allow market failure of transportation services users if carriers change their business models to adapt to shifting demand patterns?

(If so, will more regulatory flexibility be needed to deal with it?)

5. Reducing the demand for transportation

a. Urban design to minimize need for commuting

b. Road tolls to disincent over-use of finite capacity

c. Ramp metering to prevent over-use of finite capacity

6. Solving ride-hailing problem

(Studies are showing they cause increased traffic and congestion)

1. International trading patterns.

a. Effect of emerging trend towards increased Atlantic traffic cf. Pacific on infrastructure investment at Halifax and Montréal, and possible need for “Canada Inc.” approach to attracting international traffic (see also 4.1)

2. Political influence on investment decisions.  (Political considerations often are the de facto primary goal, which trades away the mobility improvements that the infrastructure could provide.)

a. Canada Infrastructure Bank  (Degree of political independence to introduce unpopular measures like road tolls for raising mobility?)

3. Role of the state

a. Economic development:  When should public investment be made for development of resources or communities, or prevent disappearance?

b. How to address competing priorities in context of limited resources

1. New relationship models among supply chain partners to deal with disruptions (see also 6.4, 6.5, 7.1,  and A1.e)

a. basis of doing business (low- price vs. long-term relations vs. fungibility / recoverability) 
b. optionality 
c. resilience
d. component substitute-ability
e. backward compatitility

2. Creating a climate of trust within suppply chains

a. Increasing the number of competing supply chains, and reducing the amount of competition within each one

3. Shift of retail business models coming out of the pandemic (see also 6.4)

a. acceleration of trend to on-line ordering
b. redesign of stores
c. earlier visibility on customer buying intentions (due to pre-ordering)
d. effect on supply chain data and inventory

4. “Amazon delivery model” (see also 6.3)

a. Effects on supply chain architecture
b. Effects on density of road-use by trucks, and on urban congestion
c. Effects on fuel consumption and GHG emissions

5. Preparing businesses for black swans

a. Principles and methods that firms can program into their business models and corportate structures to withstand unpredicatable shocks (see also 6.1, 7.1e, and A1)

1. Relations with Indigenous groups

a. Understanding costs and benefits of transportation projects from Ingidenous viewpoint
b. Who speaks for Indigenous commumities
c. Foreseeing and managing non-Indigenous groups piggybacking on Indigenous issues
d. Weighing reconciliation-oriented approach to disagreements vs. transportation reliability and Canada’s brand (see also A1)
e. Dealing with supply chain disruption (see also 2.2 and 6.1)

2. Using new technology to reduce the environmental footprint of transportation.  (This provides a benefit to the environment, not to mobility.) (see also A2)

3. Environment and transportation in general:  finding ways to ensure that trade and movement of people expand in a sustainable manner.

(This seeks a balance among competing priorities, or if possible a net gain for both.)

4. Urban design to reduce the need for transportation, making cities more liveable than our current models do.

(This is an alternative way of improving mobility, by reducing the tendency to over-access infrastructure and trigger congestion.)

5. Social acceptability of drones

a. Dealing with social resistance to last-mile-deliveries caused by noise, intrusiveness, safety concerns (see also 2.3 and 3.4)

6. Intra-city freight movements

(Are there solutions to high truck density, by better urban planning?) (see also 1.9, 3.4, and 7.5)

A1 Indigenous land and major infrastructure projects

a. Reconciling historical assumption that consultation about new infrastructure projects is merely a formality vs. new assumption that it tends to be a show-stopper (see also 6.2, 7.1.a,  7.1.d, and A2) 

A2 Infrastructure approval time-lines

a. Revisit assumptions in government infrastructure stimulus programs about time-lag for permits, consultations, and approvals before shovels can go in the ground and have much stimulus effect.

A3 Federal, provincial, and municipal governments review planning assumptions around need for:

  • downtown office space
  • travel volume and patterns
  • streets
  • highways
  • parking
  • mass transit infrastructure
  • coming out of the pandemic; and 
  • in light of disruptive innovations like:
  • vehicle sharingride hailing
  • AVs
  • UAVs
  • telecommuting

A4. Border facilitation

a. Adequacy of as-built throughput capacity at border screening points to handle significant increases without becoming a constraint in supply chains (see also 3.2 and 3.5)

A5. One-company optimization vs. supply-chain optimization

a. Mapping and strategizing relationships among supply-chain members

B1 Training and education for transportation systems of the future

B2 Making transportation an attractive career direction

B3 Impact of technology on skills requirements

B4 Overcoming crew shortages 

a. Rate of retirement and turnover problems of truck drivers, airline pilots, locomotive engineers, and marine crews, not being matched with rate of education and training
b. Recruiting even more difficult with prospect for many jobs to be gone in 10 years from automation (e.g., AVs)

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