McMaster University

McMaster University


MITL Current Research Projects

Value Planning for New Highway Infrastructure in Ontario:  Evidence and Extensions for Policy
MITL seeks to estimate the net land value impacts of highway infrastructure by isolating positive benefits of accessibility from negative effects of noise and pollution. Positive net benefits provide a rationale for land value capture to fund highway projects as part of a ‘value planning’ approach.This research is being carried out for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Children’s Exposure to Criteria Air Pollution Due to Drop-off Programs at School
MITL is working with the Ministry of Environment, Clean Air Hamilton and Corr Research to quantify students’ air pollution exposure and identify reduction strategies.  This research will evaluate children’s exposure to air pollutants and will assess the pollution levels in two “get to school” situations which include vehicle drop-off and active concentrations.

The Development of a Transportation Demand Management Plan for McMaster University
MITL is working with McMaster University Security and Parking Services to assess the current state of the University’s collective transportation strategy/situation including its parking capacity and will then develop a sustainable, adaptive and inclusive Transportation Demand Management Plan. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is a general term for various strategies that increase transportation system efficiency. It gives priority to more active and/or sustainable modes such as walking, cycling, ridesharing and teleworking; particularly so under congested conditions.

Social Costs and Benefits of Electric Mobility in Canada
Please visit the following website for detailed information and updates

Metropolitan Traffic Congestion in Canada
This work is being carried out through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant.  In the past, academic researchers have tended to focus on metropolitan traffic congestion issues relating to urban sprawl and urban form, the jobs-housing balance and commuting efficiency.  These efforts have been weighted primarily to economic impacts and secondarily to environmental impacts with minimal attention paid to the underlying causes of the Canadian congestion phenomenon.  Over a five year period, this research will produce one of the most comprehensive examinations of congestion in Canada ever taken.  Congestion in Canada will be studied in terms of how it can be measured, what causes it, what implications it has and what policies ought to be prescribed to deal with it.


MITL Completed Research Projects

Benchmarking, Planning, and Promoting Transit Oriented Intensification in Rapid Transit Station Areas: Project Key Indicators (May 2016)
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is high-density, mixed-use, and pedestrian-friendly development oriented to rapid transit stations. Promoting TOD is a great way to maximize the return on investment for new rapid transit infrastructure can help to ensure the Greater Golden Horseshoe region grows and intensifies in a way that is environmentally sustainable, equitable, and economically prosperous. This project captures the built environment context around existing and future rapid transit infrastructure across the region and shows that not all stations are the same in terms of TOD inputs and outcomes. A latent class TOD typology reveals 10 distinct station types, and contrasting this information with the goals of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe reveals stations that can benefit from more targeted policy and planning to meet their intensification goals. Finally, a brief case study of the A-Line and B-Line LRTs in Hamilton highlights qualitative factors affecting TOD challenges and opportunities. Summary Report Full Report

Computer Modelling of Traffic and Emission Impacts of a Large, Mixed Use Development:  the Case of the Prospective Burlington Innovation District (June 2015)
This research is being carried out in conjuction with Colliers International and the Franhoefer Institute to look at analytical approaches that will assist in the optimization of a transportation plan of the yet to be developed Burlington Innovation District (BID) in Burlington, ON.  The objectives of the research include:  identifying the firms that are suitable for the BID and design and develop a traffic computer simulation model to examine the traffic and environmental impacts of the BID under different scenarios.

Toronto Road System Performance - Stretching the State of Knowledge (September 2015)
While traffic congestion is a regular dinner-table conversation, media topic, and features centrally into discussions of transportation policy formation, newer data sources are only beginning to be integrated into policymaking circles as means to explore, track, and shape transportation system performance. This report represents one element of a larger study on using “Big Data” – in this case from Inrix, Inc. – to study road transportation system performance in the City of Toronto, focusing on the metric of travel speed. This study integrates data and model results from several sources to identify the slowest and fastest single days in 2014(January 1 through December 31)and portions of 2011(August 8 through December 31)and 2013 (July 1 through December 31). Only the freeways are analyzed for 2011 and 2013 while the freeway and arterial networks are each assessed independently for 2014 to focus the analysis on those system components which are best tracked by the available data for each year.

Results suggest four major findings when focusing on mean daily travel speeds of “typical days.” First, weekend speeds are higher than weekday speeds. Freeway speeds are on average 7 to 10 kilometers per hour faster during weekdays than during the week. Second, most of the very slowest days of the year can be explicitly matched to snow and rain events. Third, those weekdays with atypically fast mean travel speeds are on holidays. Finally, daily travel conditions are much less stable during winter months than during summer months. This appears to be due to the joint impacts of the previous two factors: holidays (on which speeds are higher) and extreme weather events (during which speeds are lower). In sum, although severe incidents which trigger broader gridlock may severely impact the experiences of many downstream system users, the most pronounced patterns in daily freeway travel conditions stem from factors which are largely outside of the purview of policymaking: holidays, weekends, and weather. Linked Report

The overall study was conducted in three parts:
Congested Days: The first phase identified that the single most congested days occurred on days during which there was snow or rain. While this is in many ways expected, these results illustrate the role of weather in travel conditions and demonstrate the utility of these approaches when analyzing Big Data for performance monitoring.

City Congestion Trends: The second phase estimated changes in traffic congestion over the three year period from 2011 to 2014 by looking at annual, monthly, daily and hourly variations in performance metrics, including speed, delay, and unreliability. The study found that congestion did materially grow from 2011 to 2014, but the growth was uneven and congestion was in fact lower in 2013.

Corridor Report Cards: The final phase included a set of corridor report cards for 36 corridors across the City.  Corridor report cards provided comparable snapshots of changes in performance between 2011 and 2014, hourly speed profiles for typical days of the week, and measures of unreliability.   Results identified uneven changes in congestion over time among City roadways and expressways.

Congested Days in Toronto
Congestion Trends in the City of Toronto (2011-2014)

Report Cards:
McMaster Institute for Transportation & Logistics (MITL) Report Card Memo
City of Toronto - Highways
City of Toronto - Major Arterials
MTO - Highways


Shaping Hamilton with Complete Streets (June 2015)
There has been a lot of interest in recent years in "livable communities" which tend to be less auto- oriented than their low density, car dependent suburban counterparts.  The "complete streets" concept has become very much associated with livable communities from the point of view of accessibility and equally accommodating the walking, cycling and transit modes as well as automobiles.  The purpose of the proposed research is to assess the performance of complete street implementations in other jurisdictions, critically review what has been written on complete street concepts, and assess the applicability of the complete street concept in Hamilton with a view to how this approach might improve the vitality of certain key neighborhoods. Linked Report

An Evaluation of the Ontario Green Commercial Vehicle Program (February 2015)
In collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, MITL has analyzed observed commercial vehicle behaviour data relating to idling and distances travelled.  The purpose has been to evaluate the performance of various green technologies such as:  auxiliary power units, cab heaters and coolers and alternative fuel vehicles.  The technologies are being evaluated against such benchmarks as:  emissions reductions return on investment and payback period.  In general, results suggest that investments in green commercial vehicle technologies are sound investments.  Link forthcoming.

Estimating Vehicular Emissions for the Toronto and Hamilton Census Metropolitan Areas(June 2014)
This research is being carried out for Environment Canada and seeks to provide emissions estimates associated with all metropolitan road links in the CMAs covered.   An Integrated Urban Modelling Framework is used where trips originating from and arriving in each small census area are estimated for each hour of the day.  These trips are assigned to the road network using an advanced assignment algorithm and an appropriate environmental module is employed to estimate emissions associated with the traffic levels on each road link.  Something similar is done for light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles and public transit vehicles.  Variations by day and by month are taken into account to provide a complete picture for a full year. Linked Report

Truck Freight Generators and Attractors in the Province of Ontario (March 2014)
This work is being carried out in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation as a follow up to a study that examined some of the more internationally-oriented freight generators in the Province.   The purpose here is use available data sources to accurately screen out a large number of second-tier freight generators scattered throughout regions of the province and to perform a round of survey work to gather further details about each generator. Linked Report. Powerpoint presentation click here.

Maximizing the Potential of the Foreign Trade Zone Concept in Canada (January 2013)
This research examined the array of programs in Canada that seek to provide similar benefits to the more singular U.S. FTZ program.  It has also examined the dilemma of not using a true zone concept in a world that is used to FTZs as zones with defined spatial boundaries. As well as the U.S. case , some examples from  around the world are evaluated.  The report concludes that some geographical reframing of the FTZ concept is required and that there are some important marketing issues to be considered as well.  Finally, it suggests that the disparate FTZ-oriented programs in Canada need to be brought more into line with one another. Linked Report
Please click here to acess Dr. Mark Ferguson's January 25th speech.

Seaway Under-Utilization: Are Regulations to Blame? (June 2012)
This report assesses the extent to which the regulatory environment can be used as an explanation for why Seaway volumes have not reached the levels of decades past and why it has been difficult for new Seaway services oriented towards higher value goods to gain traction.  The results suggest that non-regulatory factors such as shifts in global demand patterns and intense competition from other modes within the region such as rail offer the most powerful explanations.  Nevertheless, the report notes that even after the elimination of the Canadian 25% duty on foreign built ships, there are still some significant regulatory barriers to be addressed. Linked Report

The North American Light Rail Experience:  Insights for Hamilton (April 2012)
This study examines thirty cities in North America that have already developed light rail systems and with varying levels of success.  The main objective of the work is to determine the main underlying factors which have contributed to the outcomes experienced in terms of ridership and the extent of transit oriented development.  The implications for a future Hamilton LRT are discussed.  Linked Report

Hamilton Truck Route Study (March 2012)
In recent years, Hamilton, Ontario has been making modifications to its truck routes and has been considering the implications of some proposed reductions in routes.  Partially, the changes result from the opening of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and partially they result from a desire to reduce the impacts of trucks on certain neighbourhoods.  This brief study simulates the impacts of these changes on the movements of trucks through the city. Linked Report

Delivery Route Optimization:  An LCBO Case Study (December 2011)
Exploratory work was carried out for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to determine if there was potential for LCBO stores and The Beer Store (TBS) locations to be served more efficiently from the four LCBO warehouses in Ontario.  Research was also motivated by the fact that the Durham warehouse was operating very close to capacity and scenarios which assigned more stores to the London warehouse were to be explored.   Results showed that there appears to be significant potential to develop more efficient routes.   The number of routes could be fewer with trucks filled closer to capacity.  These routes would be associated with less aggregate distance travelled and therefore less emissions. Aggregate travel time would also be reduced.  The results were derived taking traffic congestion patterns into account and detailed reports were developed which showed step-by-step the composition and timing of each route.  The analysis was done on the basis of a "typical" two week cycle and thus did not take seasonality into account.  For peak periods of the year in particular, alternative routing schemes would be required to accommodate the extra volumes.

A Exploration of the Freight Village Concept and its Applicability to Ontario (October 2011) 
This research was carried out for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.  The purpose of the research was to explore the concept of a freight village and provide some high level insights on the applicability of the concept in the province of Ontario. A freight village is an advanced form of logistics centre where a cluster of goods movement oriented and logistics facilities are co-located and co-ordinated to achieve synergies.  Key attributes include an intermodal terminal, warehousing, manufacturing, wholesaling, logistics services and access to shared facilities, equipment and services.  Centralized management and ownership and partnership between the public and private sectors are also central elements.  In its pure form, a freight village can serve as an incubator for smaller logistics and related firms.  Extensive details about the concept and its relevance for Ontario can be found in the
linked report.

Movements of Dangerous Goods Across the Credit Valley Conservation Watershed (September 2011)
The movement of dangerous goods is a prominent theme within the general area of goods movement.  Large quantities of flammable liquids and compressed gases among other dangerous substances, move between and within our urban areas.  The safety of these movements is of paramount concern.  Nevertheless, there have been significant incidents that have taken place over the years resulting in loss of life and environmental damage.  In order to maximize their understanding of the current situation and to achieve the highest level of emergency preparedness, the Credit Valley Conservation Authority approached MITL for research that would seek to quantify the movements of hazardous materials across the Credit Valley Watershed via the modes of road and rail. The framework that was implemented to evaluate these movements is described in detail in the linked report.  The final estimate for road movements was 8.857 million tonnes of hazmat per year that interact with the watershed.  For rail, the corresponding estimate is  6.442million tonnes per year.   Linked Report

Hamilton's Rapid Transit Future: The Role of Light Rail Transit (August 2011) [see video]
In partnership with the Rapid Transit group of the City of Hamilton, MITL created this ten minute presentation that examines Light Rail Transit in the city with an emphasis on the proposed B-Line. The presentation focuses on: how LRT in Hamilton will look, why it is important, how it can aid urban development in key areas of the city and what can be learned from other cities that have developed LRT.

Green Technology and Trucking:  An Investigation of Factors Influencing Fuel Consumption Using GPS Data (February 2011)
This study explores factors such as acceleration and speed which impact fuel consumption for short-haul trucking – that is, the shipment of goods within 200 and 300 kilometers of a driver’s home terminal. The data used in this study were provided by Transcare Logistics Corporation, a member of the Carego Group of Companies. The data consisted of GPS records for all trips undertaken by two trucks operating for the corporation, freight information, and fuel information. Green Technology and Trucking Report

A Vision for Hamilton's Future (January 2011):Videos ShortVersion, Long Version
This presentation, created by the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics (MITL), paints a picture of how Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is set to evolve as a successful gateway city for Southern Ontario and beyond.  This video builds on a 2009 study released by MITL which can be found here:

The short version (7 minutes) found here is narrated by the Mayor of Hamilton, Bob Bratina, and has a strong focus on Hamilton's opportunity to evolve as a gateway.  The long version (20 minutes) found here is narrated by Dr. Virginia Frisk also has a Hamilton focus but is designed more for educational purposes.  It goes into detail about goods movement and what a gateway is.  It also contains some case studies of other successful gateway cities.

Champlain Bridge-Montreal:  Impacts of Disruptions to Bridge Capacity (January 2011)
MITL completed a project for the Federal Bridge Corporation which assessed the impacts of potential closures to the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.  Given that the main part of Montreal is an island, the metropolitan economy is very dependent on its river crossings.  Congestion in the vicinity of these crossings is already a major problem.  In the event of a moderate seismic event, there is the possibility that the crossing could be closed for several years.  This project studied various closure scenarios and their implications for traffic patterns and also the competitiveness of the metropolitan economy. Champlain Bridge Report

An Assessment of Hands-Free Mooring (December 2010)
MITL completed a project for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation seeking to assess a new Hands Free Mooring technology which is being studied for rollout throughout the Seaway system.  The study sought to establish base rates over recent years for negative vessel incidents in transiting locks and evaluated current tests of the new technology against those base rates. Also, a stakeholder interview process was executed to assess views on the new technology.

Estimating Urban Commercial Vehicle Movements in the GTHA (July 2010)
This project was completed for Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).  In this work, available data sources were integrated with a computationally intensive simulation framework to estimate, on an hourly basis, the flows of light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles between over 2000 zones in the GTHA. Metrolinx Report

A Sustainable Strategy for Developing Hamilton as a Gateway (April 2009)
For MITL’s first major research project, the City of Hamilton, Ontario was evaluated for its potential to develop further as a goods movement gateway.  The research featured an extensive literature review, detailed economic impact scenarios based on assumptions about gateway oriented employment growth and related traffic and emission scenarios.  The central thesis of this report was that economic development and job creation need not conflict with environmental sustainability.  Development of employment lands coupled with a strong urban intensification strategy and investment in public transit infrastructure is ideal for promoting economic interaction and gateway development while minimizing congestion and transport related emissions. Gateway Report 

Goods Movement in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area:  Modeling, Data Issues and the Development of an Establishment Survey Instrument (October 2008)
This research was carried out for Metrolinx with a view to develop improved data on Urban Commercial Vehicle Movements (UCVM) within the GTHA.  A possible survey instrument was developed and a description of possible subsequent simulation modeling was provided.


Research Areas

MITL brings an applied research focus to solve current and future challenges in transportation and logistics and drives innovation that will sustain the industry and maximize its strength as an engine for economic growth in the future.  Now that public-private partnerships are increasingly encouraged by government, MITL may be an answer to many of your R&D concerns.

MITL can be counted on to deliver analysis that is rigorous, unbiased and responsive to real and immediate business challenges.  As a research resource to industry and government, MITL offers many benefits:

  • Integrated expertise from a range of institutions and industry partners.  McMaster alone boasts more than a dozen transportation and logistics researchers across the faculties of Science, Business and Engineering.  Their links to other academic institutions provide access to the best and brightest transportation and logistics researchers in the country and create the critical mass of involvement needed to develop a world-class institute.
  • A collaborative, cost-effective, R&D approach for testing new ideas and initiatives
  • Access to research and best practices worldwide through MITL’s international connections with academic institutions and transportation industry leaders
  • A broader vision of issues, challenges and opportunities that can only be obtained from an industry-wide, multimodal approach that studies transportation and logistics from every angle.[TOP

Research Methods

  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

  • Spatial analysis and spatial optimization methods, especially with applications on transport issues and the optimal location of facilities (warehouses)
  • Software development for urban and regional simulation systems that associate land development with transport infrastructure
  • Logistics optimization including storage location and space allocation in automated storage and retrieval warehousing systems
  • Supply Chain Management with a focus on procurement and order fulfillment in eBusiness and eCommerce chains
  • Transportation systems design such as feasibility studies for short sea shipping as well as optimization of the operation and layout of container terminals
  • Public policy with respect to transportation infrastructure and cluster development
  • Environmental emissions research for informed decision-making in transportation issues
  • Conferences and workshops[TOP]



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