How the World Beats Traffic

Event Details

  • Monday, November 2, 2015
  • 12:00 pm EST
  • Free
  • Google Hangout On Air (live-streamed on this page)

How the World Beats Traffic

Congestion is the bane of urban life in Canada, as it is elsewhere in the world. Too many people driving too many cars at the same place at the same time—that’s congestion. The Commission’s first OnAir Google Hangout will be a virtual panel discussion with international experts on how cities are using congestion pricing to combat gridlock. Chris Ragan, chair, will host and moderate the event.



Chris Ragan

Chair, Canada's Ecofiscal Commission
McGill University, Department of Economics
Christopher Ragan has been teaching economics at McGill University since 1989. He is also a Research Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute where from 2010 through 2013 he held the Institute’s David Dodge Chair in Monetary Policy, and for many years was a member of the Institute’s Monetary Policy Council. From January 2009 through June 2010, he was the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at the Department of Finance in Ottawa, where he served as a senior advisor to the Minister and other senior Finance officials. During 2004-05, he served as the Special Advisor to the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Ragan is the author of Economics (formerly co-authored with Richard Lipsey), which after fourteen editions is still the most widely used introductory economics textbook in Canada. Ragan also has a regular column in The Globe and Mail. During the mid-1990s he was the founding Editor-in-Chief of World Economic Affairs. Chris Ragan received his B. A. (Honours) in economics in 1984 from the University of Victoria and his Master’s degree in economics from Queen’s University in 1985. He then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he completed his Ph.D. in economics at M.I.T. in 1989.

International Experts


Eric Jaffe

New York bureau chief, CityLab
 Eric Jaffe is CityLab’s New York bureau chief. He writes about transportation, behavior, and history, and has a general interest in the science of city life. He’s the author of A Curious Madness (2014) and The King’s Best Highway (2010), and lives in New York.


David Levinson

Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, University of Minnesota

Prof. David Levinson serves on the faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at the University of Minnesota, is Managing Director of the Accessibility Observatory, and directs the Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems (NEXUS) research group. He holds the Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation. He also serves on the graduate faculty of the Applied Economics and Urban and Regional Planning programs at the University of Minnesota. In academic year 2006-2007 he was a visiting academic at Imperial College in London.

In January 2005 he was awarded the CUTC/ARTBA New Faculty Award. He earned a Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. His dissertation “On Whom the Toll Falls“, argues that local decision making about managing and financing roads will most likely lead to direct road pricing, which will allow the efficient allocation of scarce road resources (and thus reduce congestion). He has also conducted research into travel behavior.

He received the 1995 Tiebout Prize in Regional Science for the paper “Location, Relocation, and the Journey to Work”. From 1989 to 1994, he worked as a transportation planner, developing integrated transportation and land-use models for Montgomery County, Maryland. He then applied those models for multimodal network planning and growth management.

Levinson has authored or edited several books, including The Transportation Experience, Planning for Place and Plexus, and The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport, and numerous peer reviewed articles. He is the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use.


Lauren Mattern

City Planner, Los Angeles, California
Former Analyst, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Lauren Mattern spent the past five years working with a multidisciplinary team to build and evaluate the award-winning SFpark project in San Francisco. SFpark is a federally funded pilot using new technology to implement demand responsive pricing and real-time data at 19,000 parking spaces. The project demonstrated how to build innovative teams and projects in the public sector, utilizing top-shelf private sector data warehousing and analytics tools to make data-driven decisions, transmit real-time data, and conduct a rigorous evaluation. The project resulted in improved parking availability, decreased vehicle miles travelled, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Before joining the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency as Principal Analyst to launch SFpark, Lauren was a city planning consultant, specializing in land use and housing policy. She holds a BA in Politics and Environmental Policy from Drake University and a Masters of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.


Sam Schwartz

CEO, Sam Schwartz Engineering
Former NYC Traffic Commissioner
Sam Schwartz is CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering, a firm that specializes in urban transportation planning and engineering. He also writes the “Gridlock Sam” column in the New York Daily News. He introduced the word “gridlock” into the lexicon during the 1980 NYC Transit strike.

A former NYC Traffic Commissioner he is expert at getting people out of their cars and into other forms of transportation. Mr. Schwartz has created many win-win-win situations whereby traffic moves better, pedestrians are safer and the community gains more sidewalk and green space. He’s been called an Urban Alchemist for making grass grow from asphalt. He began his transportation career as a NYC cab driver.

He has a B.S. in Physics from Brooklyn College and a M.S. in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

His latest book, StreetSmart, a look at the millennial revolution in transportation and what it means for the future, will be released in September, 2015.


Gunnar Söderholm

Head of the Environment and Health Administration, City of Stockholm
Gunnar Söderholm is since 1 Dec 2006 the head of the Environment and Health Administration in the City of Stockholm. He is born 1953 and has a Master of Law. After practice in a local court was he the Swedish Metalworkers Union`s lawyer during the eighties. He began 1989 in the City Hall of Stockholm as a political assistant to the deputy mayor for real estate. He became the head of the public trustee committee in the City of Stockholm 1993. He was the management director for the Housing agency in Stockholm 1996 – 2002. Between 2002 and 2006 was he the deputy CEO for the City of Stockholm. Among other things he was responsible for the congestion charge project, housing and ICT development in the City.