PhD Grad Mischa Young discusses his research on ride-share services – UofT Arts & Science News

November 19, 2020 by Michael McKinnon – A&S News

Mischa Young came to U of T to earn his PhD in the Department of Geography & Planning in the Faculty of Arts & Science so he could better understand where the world is going — or, at least, how to improve the way they are getting there. His research into ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber examined how this emerging form of mobility may be used to improve the sustainability and equity of our transportation network. As part of his thesis, he also identified segments of the population that benefit from ride-hailing, and more importantly, those who are excluded from it. His work was supported by several awards and scholarships, including U of T’s School of Cities Student Fellowship Award.

Why did you choose U of T and the Department of Geography & Planning? 

I chose to pursue a PhD in the Department of Geography & Planning at U of T because many of its faculty members — and particularly my supervisor — specialize in urban transportation. The University’s interdisciplinary approach was another major reason for choosing this institution, as it enabled me to collaborate with faculty members from different departments and divisions including economics and engineering.

Tell me more about your research into ride-hailing services. 

Despite their growing role within cities, the impacts of ride-hailing services remain contested and largely misunderstood. My doctoral research sought to explore several of the key impacts of ride-hailing on existing transportation systems and their users within the Greater Toronto Area and assess whether policies should be developed to encourage or deter its usage. More specifically, I identified potentially marginalized groups that may be excluded from ride-hailing services and exposed how the benefits of this mode may not be distributed equally. I also examined whether ride-hailing services behave as a substitute or supplement to transit, and proposed solutions to increase the share of pooled ride-hailing trips, such as UberPool.

What would be the best-case scenario result of your work?  

I hope the results from my doctoral work will improve our understanding of the many ways in which ride-hailing services may impact our cities and, in so doing, offer a practical contribution to policymakers seeking to properly regulate this service.

What have you learned through this work? What’s been the big surprise? 

My research suggests that new forms of mobility, such as ride-hailing services, will have an important role to play in the future of urban transportation. A surprise throughout this endeavour was the fast pace at which this industry and field of research evolved. The regulatory policies and level of data availability has changed substantially since I started working on this topic.

How has this work helped set you up for your post-university plans?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I am now building upon my doctoral ride-hailing research and am focusing on the driver side of the equation.

What advice would you give your first-year self?  

Good question. I would tell my first-year self not to worry as much about clearly defining the scope of my doctoral research. These things tend to solve themselves along the way.

What have been some of your most memorable experiences at U of T?

Among the many memorable experiences at U of T, one that particularly stands out is the many hours spent at the Graduate Student Union Pub with my lab mates from the Spatial Analysis of Urban Systems Laboratory (SAUSy lab).

What’s next for you?

Since graduating from U of T, I have started a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of California, Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies. In this role, I am working closely with the State of California’s Air Research Board to find ways to reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.

This article was originally published by UofT Faculty of Arts & Science News 

Recruiting PhD applicants for International Doctoral Cluster: Cities and infrastructure in a global age

Application Deadline: January 15, 2021 for September 2021 start date

The Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto invites applications for 2
Doctoral Studentships to join an International Doctoral Cluster (IDC) focused on cities and
infrastructure in a global age that the University of Toronto and the University of Manchester are
launching in September, 2021.

The International Doctoral Cluster will provide a unique opportunity for participating students focused
on infrastructure topics enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Toronto to work with
faculty members, conduct comparative research, and be part of a cohort of graduate students at both
universities. The IDC will support the comparison and exchange of conceptual, empirical and
methodological insights into the past, present and future work of cities and infrastructure in a global
age. Alongside academic research the IDC program will include a strong element of engagement,
impact and outreach with public, private, and non-profit organizations in the infrastructure sector.

Please review our full announcement (pdf) for further details.

Graduate Admissions Open House, Nov. 19-20, 2020

The department is hosting it’s annual Open House for prospective applicants to our master’s and PhD programs in Geography & Planning.

Meet with faculty, staff and students to find out more about our graduate programs. Sessions will be held by videoconference (Zoom) on November 19-20, 2020. Visit our event page for further details.

Planning student Karina Maynard featured in article on StudentMoveTo study to improve transportation for students

“Data on how students travel isn’t readily available,” says Maynard, who is a research assistant for the partnership.

“This data is incredibly important because students move in a very different way than any other subset of the population. They often travel off-peak, maybe coming to campus at noon and leaving at 8 p.m. Each day can be different.” 

Read more here. 

Professor Anna Kramer on how gender and public transport connect

Good public transit is a feminist issue (TTC Riders)

Research by Prof. Steven Farber and PhD student Jeff Allen shows one million urban Canadians suffer from ‘transport poverty’

Stranded without transit? U of T researchers say one million urban Canadians suffer from ‘transport poverty’ (U of T News)

Prof. Anna Kramer discusses immigration and Canada

Prof. Anna Kramer discusses the idea of ‘under-population’ in Canada. (CBC Radio)

Prof. Ron Buliung on how children in the Greater Toronto Area get to school

Fewer children walking to school Metrolinx report finds (Toronto Star)

Now Open: Applications for Admission to Geography & Planning Graduate Programs

The Department of Geography & Planning is now accepting applications for September 2019 admission to graduate programs. Please see the Graduate Geography and Graduate Planning pages for further details.

The deadline to apply for all programs is January 21, 2019.

Alexandra Flynn explains how community councils work – CBC Radio