2020 40 Under 40: Ian R. Borsuk, P.Eng.

Aug. 18, 2020
Ian R. Borsuk, P.Eng., Associate, Dillon Consulting Ltd.
  • One word to describe yourself: Energetic
  • Alma Mater: McGill University
  • Favorite hobby(s): Violin, banjo, guitar and woodworking
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Grand Central NYC
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): Montreal STM – Route 161 – Used it to/ from school, friends

Ian Borsuk is described as an integrated mobility planner and licensed professional engineer who has worked on transportation projects throughout Canada, the United States and a number of other countries. His work has included everything from small traffic studies and transit route studies to transit service plans, transit priority corridor studies, transit business plans and large regional multimodal transportation plans.

At Dillon Consulting Limited, Borsuk is involved in helping to lead and grow the firm’s integrated mobility team as its operations team manager. Additionally, Borsuk serves as the office manager. Both roles have become more complex during the pandemic. He has had to more closely monitor integrated mobility team members who are working from home and make sure they continue to be productive while ensuring all colleagues have the equipment and resources needed to successfully work from home.

On the innovation front, Borsuk created a network simulation model to demonstrate how a pair of shared one-way streets in a downtown core could successfully accommodate light-rail and bus vehicles on at-grade transit-only facilities, as well as adjacent general traffic. The simulation earned Borsuk and two collaborators the 2008 Innovative Intermodal Solutions Award from the International Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Another example involves Borsuk’s use of the StreetLight Data platform to identify travel patterns throughout a city, which was then compared to the existing transit network as part of a transit route network development project.

Within Dillon, Borsuk developed a detailed spreadsheet tool that allows for thorough analysis of a transit system and development of various future network scenarios.

Borsuk is also a member of Dillon’s automated vehicle application team where he led a series of automated transit shuttle demonstrations undertaken in Western Canada.

Borsuk is actively involved with the Institute of Transportation Engineers of Canada and has made several presentations, including at International ITE, Canadian Urban Transit Association and Transportation Association of Canada events.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

Transit was an important element throughout my adolescence in Montreal taking the bus (STM) and Metro. I grew up taking public transit to and from school with a bus pass pinned to my winter jacket – I must have been in grade four or five. I remember getting on the bus that had all the highschool kids on it, spending my weekly allowance on a snack at the dépanneur (corner store) when transferring buses and taking the Metro when I missed the bus. As a teenager, the metro was used daily to zip around the city, and even with the availability of a driver’s license, it was simply easier to not have to worry about driving and parking a car. Transit provided me worry-free independence at the time.

It was not until university (McGill University), when I gained an appreciation about transportation engineering and urban transportation planning. The school used passionate professors who also worked as consultants and our graduating project developed in consultation with the local transit agencies and select project stakeholders, provided a “real life” application of transit service and infrastructure planning. A professor also encouraged me to further pursue transportation, setting me up with my first job at McCormick Rankin Corporation (MRC) working on the planning and design of Ottawa’s LRT and several busways.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working in transit has been a very rewarding and fulfilling career for several reasons. Firstly, I have always been keen for undertaking complex technical analysis. I enjoy getting deep into the numbers whether it’s assessing existing performance, developing regional transportation models and/or identifying solutions that solve noted issues. Secondly, having the opportunity to interact directly with the public through various methods of outreach and community engagement. There is no better way to understand the local issues and competing interests than having discussions with the people who know, or seemingly know best. Lastly, I have had the pride of projects getting implemented that greatly improve people’s lives. It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of a team whose goal it is to enhance the world we live in.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

What may be the most challenging, like always, can be the most interesting and exciting elements. The industry is rapidly changing, including social trends, available technologies and changes in travel and commuting patterns. It can be very difficult to forecast how things will evolve in the future, but there is a ton of data that can be used that can provide some insight. The biggest challenge is finding a way to meaningfully use all the available data from the complete transportation network to gain an understanding of issues, opportunities and potential constraints. 

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

There are several projects that I have been a part of including contributing to the Ottawa LRT, Toronto’s Crosstown LRT and many transformative transit priority corridor studies throughout the U.S. and Canada. I also have a sense of pride for the colleagues that I have mentored and who have advised me in my career, achieving their own accomplishments.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

Keep an open mind, learn from others and take advantage of the years of experience that are available.

Why do you like being a part of the public transit industry?

Seeing the direct impact of my work where I live in Ottawa and contributing to the evolution of cities everywhere I work. Helping to pass-on and gain additional knowledge and tools to improve services and operations, customer experience and provision of overall mobility.

I feel that the industry is a passionate group of individuals who believe in community, equity and improving the social and urban environment through access to mobility and place-making ability.