Traffic and Congestion

The Impacts of Lane Occupancy on City Streets

Lane occupations, whether related to development activity, utility work or capital works projects contribute significantly to congestion throughout the city. When space on the roadway has been permitted for construction purposes, transportation patterns are impacted, creating traffic and safety issues.
 
This term, I moved a motion directing Engineering & Construction Services and Transportation Services to report on the use of traffic management plans and street occupancy approvals to address traffic disruptions from construction projects.
 
Upon receiving this report, I requested that staff provide additional options to shorten the duration of street occupations, including escalating fees and increasing fees at the time of renewal. I also requested that staff consider imposing fees for congestion-related economic impacts, such as the city's time and productivity losses associated with lane occupations.
 
As a result, instead of a citywide flat fee, permit fee rates were changed to be based on the market rate for space on public roadways as informed by on-street metered parking rates. Although this was a step forward, there is still more work to be done.

Construction staging areas that occupy the curb lane, as most on-road occupations do, constrain the movement of vehicles in pinch points that can result in acute traffic congestion, particularly if several streets in the same area have concurrent lane closures.

As well, in December 2017, at the joint Licensing and Standards and Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I requested Municipal Licensing and Standards with Transportation Services to address construction trucks and other vehicles parking on pedestrian sidewalks during construction projects.

I will continue to advocate for increased fees and penalties and a reduction in the number and duration of lane restrictions throughout the City of Toronto. We must reduce congestion on our City's streets and ensure safe walking routes for pedestrians.

Toronto's Congestion Management Plan

Traffic congestion is a major issue in Ward 25 and across the City of Toronto. According to C.D. Howe, congestion and gridlock could be costing our City up to $11 billion a year in lost productivity. I've repeatedly pushed to advance the Congestion Management Plan (CMP) to better manage gridlock by reducing delays and improving safety through innovations in policy, operations, and technology.
 
Since adopting the CMP in 2013, the City has undertaken several new projects to manage unusual traffic flows due to events, construction, or weather-related road closures. In 2017, the City partnered with the University of Toronto to pilot drones used to monitor diverted traffic during major planned events and adapt traffic signal cycles accordingly. For Ward 25 residents commuting to downtown, City staff are now in the process of designing a comprehensive strategy to facilitate traffic on the Bayview Avenue Extension during closures of the Don Valley Parkway and potential Lower Don River flooding events. 
 
Transportation staff are working to improve traffic signal systems throughout the City. Last year alone, 46 CCTV traffic monitoring cameras were installed, with another 120 planned for 2019 and 2020. Our state-of-the-art Traffic Operations Centre uses these cameras to monitor traffic conditions in real-time and adjust signs and signals. Another 129 detection devices were installed to efficiently operate traffic control signals this year. The City is currently implementing a full Traffic Signal Coordination plan to improve traffic flow and reduce vehicle emissions.
 
The City has made significant strides forward in their collection of big data to inform traffic operations. The City's Big Data Innovation Team incorporates this data in their Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), which will be used to inform directional signs throughout the City. The Team is also currently working to develop Open Data Portal access to the City's real-time traffic signal control timings.
 
Though City staff are working to implement a number of new projects in addition to those listed above, traffic congestion remains a pressing issue in the City of Toronto. I've moved a number of motions at Community Council to improve traffic flow on our local streets and welcome any feedback or suggestions you may have.

Prioritizing the Downtown Relief Line

I ride the red rocket regularly on my commute to City Hall and observe first-hand the significant reliability and capacity issues on Line 1. I know all-to-well how frustrating overcrowding, sudden stoppages, and unforeseen delays can be for Ward 25-ers travelling to and from the downtown core. During peak hours, riders have to wait for multiple trains to pass by before there even is enough space to board the subway. These issues affect all three major transit stations in Ward 25: York Mills, Lawrence, and Eglinton. 
  
Since 2010, I've consistently advocated for the Downtown Relief Line and continue to believe that it should be City Council's top transit priority. As you may know, the Downtown Relief Line was divided into two separate projects, the Relief Line South (from Pape Station south to Queen Street) and the Relief Line North (from Pape Station north to Eglinton or Sheppard Avenue) in 2017. At Executive Committee, I moved a motion directing staff to accelerate planning of the Relief Line North.  
  
After several recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approvals the population of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood is due to grow exponentially. This influx of new residents will only exacerbate the existing issues on Line 1. As part of the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, I created a motion with the Chair of Planning and Growth Management directing City staff to develop short and long-term strategies to ease crowding on Line 1. We also asked staff to report back on the feasibility of delivering the Relief Line North and South as one undertaking to improve transit connectivity across the City.  
  
Like many of you, I am very frustrated by the long delays and mounting costs associated with the Automatic Train Control (ATC) project. At City Council, I directed TTC staff to expedite the implementation of this much-needed technology. In response to the unacceptable delay, I also initiated a comprehensive review of the entire TTC organization focused on creating a more efficient, streamlined internal structure. While this process has been extremely slow, I look forward to the positive benefits of this technology. ATC will control train speed and separation automatically, without human intervention—significantly reducing travel time. When fully implemented, it is estimated that ATC will increase Line 1 capacity by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes.  

 City Council has approved the alignment and station locations for the Relief Line South.

City Council has approved the alignment and station locations for the Relief Line South.

 City staff are currently studying the alignment and potential station locations for the Relief Line North.

City staff are currently studying the alignment and potential station locations for the Relief Line North.

Preparing for a Driverless Future

Partially-automated Vehicles are already driving through the streets of Toronto. Automated features, such as lane assist, cruise control, and automated braking, are offered by most major auto manufacturers. Policy-makers now need to turn their attention to fully-automated vehicles, which have the potential to completely transform our existing transportation system and reshape the way Torontonians live and work.
 
As Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), I was proud to see the first-ever report on Automated Vehicles (AVs) presented to Committee, as a result of a motion I moved in 2016. I have been pushing for this report for a long time. Whether we like it or not, mobility digitization is advancing rapidly, and it is our job as policy-makers to establish a regulatory framework to govern new technologies.  
 
After hearing presentations from several researchers, I directed Transportation staff to work with other municipal and academic leaders specializing in vehicle automation. In particular, I have been a strong supporter of the burgeoning partnership between the City of Toronto and the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute (UTTRI). The UTTRI functions as an intermediary between government, corporate, and academic stakeholders—connections we must foster to craft balanced and sustainable policies in the future. We need to understand how automated technology will impact road safety, traffic congestion, mobility equity, and the environment. In order to do so, City Hall must leverage the fantastic work underway at the universities and research institutes across Toronto.
 
As a City, we are creating models and establishing best practices that can be shared around the world. Our Interdivisional Working Group on AVs is one of the first of its kind, and we were also the first city in North America to create a full-time position devoted exclusively to AVs. At the January meeting, I urged the members of PWIC to embrace our position at the forefront of AV preparation, and stressed the futility of fighting against inevitable technological advancement. To be proactive on this issue, policy-makers will need to look beyond the myopia of the present day to visualize the future of our City in the long-term.
 
City Hall was slow to act on the first wave of mobility digitization: vehicle-for-hire services such as Uber. To avoid repeating past mistakes, I moved a motion requesting Transportation staff to report back to PWIC in the first quarter of 2019 with a comprehensive tactical plan including specific interdivisional recommendations for AV preparation and policy. This crucial work brings us one step closer to preparing for a potentially driverless future in the City of Toronto.
 
For more information on AVs, please see the full Transportation Services Report, dated January 5, 2018. A copy of my motions can be found here.

 As the Chair of Transportation, I was pleased to see one of the City's most important research partners, UTTRI, at City Hall to speak about the first-ever report on Toronto's preparation for AVs.

As the Chair of Transportation, I was pleased to see one of the City's most important research partners, UTTRI, at City Hall to speak about the first-ever report on Toronto's preparation for AVs.

Smart-er Congestion Management in Ward 25

Ten intersections on Yonge Street between York Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue will be outfitted with new, "smart signal" technology in 2018. Transportation Services is aiming for the system to become fully operational in the Spring. As Chair of Transportation, I launched this initiative in November at the very first installation site at Yonge Street and Yonge Boulevard in Ward 25.
 
These new smart signals will replace the 25-year old signal technology used across the City of Toronto. Our current traffic light technology employs fixed signal timing plans to accommodate predicted volumes of traffic, while the new smart signals will automatically monitor traffic flow and adjust signal cycles without human intervention. Smart signals can automatically make large-scale adaptations in response to unusual traffic conditions caused by weather, events, or accidents. They can also synchronize automatically and will be able to re-assign "green-time" over large stretches of Yonge Street to accommodate a high volume of vehicles travelling in the same direction.
 
The success of this project will be assessed based on the reduction of overall delay for travellers across the connected network of signalized intersections on Yonge Street. Transportation staff hope that the signals will also limit driver frustration caused by waiting at a red signal when there are no vehicles travelling in the other direction. Staff have undertaken significant preparatory data collection and will be comparing vehicle delay, stops, and travel time before and after the network is installed.
 
I am hopeful that this technology will help to alleviate some of the pressures of irregular congestion on Ward 25's busiest roadways.

 As Chair of Transportation, I was happy to launch Toronto's first smart traffic signals in Ward 25 on Yonge Street.

As Chair of Transportation, I was happy to launch Toronto's first smart traffic signals in Ward 25 on Yonge Street.

Midtown in Focus - Public Open House

The proposed Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan will set in place a road map for Midtown's evolution over the next 25 years. The Plan provides detailed direction for the physical development of Midtown and sets priorities for investing in and sustaining a complete, liveable
community.

The Plan is supported by infrastructure assessments focused on parks and public realm, transportation, community services and facilities, and water – together they will ensure that infrastructure capacity keeps pace with development and supports quality of life for all
Midtown stakeholders.

 

This open house is your opportunity to see how the proposed Secondary Plan and infrastructure assessments will shape the future of Midtown. Please drop by to learn
more about the plan, attend workshops and share your thoughts!

For more information, please contact:
Paul Farish, Senior Planner
City Planning Division
416-392-3529
Paul.Farish@toronto.ca
www.toronto.ca/planning/yongeeglinton

Visit the Midtown in Focus website to read the proposed Secondary Plan and take the online survey (starting February 10, 2018).