It's snowing in Toronto. Lots. City snow removers are overwhelmed. Again. Traffic is sliding to a halt. Highways close. Call in the military?
This is one thing that bugs me about my city. It's the largest city in the country, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world...we must have some smarts to think of new and better ways to do things and solve problems.
Toronto's portion of Canada's GDP - roughly 11% - makes it comparable to the entire state of California, which produces 12% of U.S. GDP. Toronto is an economic giant in this country. Traffic is an issue in the GTA, we're losing over $3 billion a year in lost productivity due to congestion. But snowfall adds another component to the traffic problem, and slowing down Toronto has impact on productivity. It is a problem that needs solutions. Let me throw something out there.
Put salt dispensers on TTC vehicles, and free up the dedicated snow removal equipment to get to more of the city in a timely manner. Think about it.
TTC buses, streetcars and WheelTrans run regular routes along main arteries as well as into side streets. Why can't they have dispensers that are reloaded at each station turnaround? I recall downtown streetcars being outfitted with bike racks on the front. Surely no one will argue that it's impossible to physically create a form of salt dispenser on trasit vehicles?
It does not mean that dedicated city snow removal equipment would not work on the TTC routes, it simply means that the strategic deployment of snow removal equipment could cover more of the city because of the help received from transit salt dispensers.
So, the weather report says it's going to snow in two days. All salt dispensing vehicles - dedicated city equipment AND public trasit vehicles - load up their salt dispensers at some point before, say several hours, to get some salt down before new snow starts to fall. The dedicated city salt dispensing units can now cover areas that do not have TTC surface routes on them because the TTC vehicles are chipping in and covering a lot of the city (across all major east/west routes, all major north/south routes, throughout the downtown core, and all routes within the neighbourhoods, residential and commercial areas).
As it snows, and after it snows, TTC vehicles continue to dispense salt along their routes, helping snow melt away or accumulate less.
Does this "solve the problem"? Not in one fell swoop, no. But it would definitely help and would allow us to extract more value and contribution from the TTC, giving the TTC another way to help keep Toronto moving.
What's wrong with this idea?
Oh, one more thing. Is there nothing better than salt for melting snow? Can't the TTC partner with a school and some corporate angel and initate a science fair to get some bright minds to come up with a better yet safe substance for melting snow? If using salt is the best we can do, fine. But if not, what does it take to say "hey, figure this out!"