Traffic Congestion Costing Toronto Households $125 Per Year: New Report

Growing traffic congestion is costing households in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) an average of $125 a year, according to the findings of a new report.

With nearly six million residents, the GTA is Canada’s largest metropolitan area. And it has the traffic congestion to go with a high density population. The region’s highways and streets are regularly clogged with rush hour traffic congestion. Now, a new report by the Toronto Region Board of Trade says that traffic problems cost the average household in the GTA $125 a year.

The report is the fourth in a series from the Board of Trade that looked at the movement of commercial goods through the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, Canada’s largest manufacturing and transportation hub. The latest report states that one million tonnes — $3 billion worth of goods — are trucked through the region each day, according to the board. But congestion on the highways connecting the cities is creating delays that cost up to $650 million per year in higher prices.

The report calls for increased use of smart traffic signals, clearing accidents quickly and opening up paved shoulders to vehicles during rush hour – all of which would help to improve congestion on GTA highways. The report points out that much of the road network in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor doesn’t take full advantage of even existing technologies and could benefit from emerging technologies like smart signals.

Smart signals use cameras and sensors embedded in the pavement to respond to traffic patterns in real time, according to the report, for example, eliminating an advance left turn signal if no cars are waiting in line to turn left. Smart signals can allow extended green signals for turning trucks trying to clear an intersection.

Efforts should be made to maximize the existing infrastructure, including permitting vehicles to use paved shoulders on the Don Valley Parkway during peak traffic times; variable speed limits and rapid accident clearance, which would help avoid long unexpected delays, according to the new report. It also suggests moving truck traffic to Highway 407 by providing financial incentives to trucking companies.