Getting Traffic Moving in Canada’s Biggest City

Livable Cities

Yesterday, the Ecofiscal Commission launched its latest report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. The report explains how we can’t simply build our way out of  congestion, we also need to consider incentives.  The report’s central recommendation is that Canada’s four largest cities run congestion pricing pilot projects, supported by all levels of government, to generate the practical knowledge and data necessary to include  pricing in our long-term urban mobility plans. But what does that mean for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area?

What does traffic look like in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area?

Before we dive into the specific GTHA idea for a pilot project, let’s review the traffic situation on the ground. To do that, we have a great infographic. One of the notable stats included is the fact that the average commute for a GTHA is a whopping 82 minutes day.
info_Toronto_Ecofiscal_webOf course, the experience of sitting in traffic speaks for itself. Our chair, Chris Ragan, explored Toronto’s traffic first hand with journalist Matt Elliott. Check out the video of their experience on the Don Valley Parkway and the 401.

What could congestion pricing look like in the GTHA?

Previous research has suggested that HOT lanes on provincial highways would likely provide the most straightforward way to bring congestion pricing into the GTHA’s congestion reduction strategy and we agree. Converting existing carpool (HOV) lanes into HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes or building new HOT-lane capacity on the provincially owned 400-series of highways could be a practical approach for reducing congestion in the GTHA. In addition, using a pricing system that responds dynamically based on demand could help to improve vehicle flow on these key travel corridors, with implications for traffic throughout the city. To further the discussion about congestion pricing in the GTHA we are holding an event today.

Watch the Webcast of our Toronto Congestion Pricing Event

Momentum to date

The Ontario government has been planning to bring in more HOV and HOT lanes to the area—including on the 401—so the province is already getting ready to move on this issue. An announcement is expected to be made in December with details of where and when. And earlier this fall, the City of Toronto decided to study tolling the DVP and the Gardiner Expressway.

At the end of the day, the main point is that it’s time for a serious conversation about congestion pricing. Nowhere is that more true than in the GTHA. So let’s keep the discussion moving.

Read the Report: We Can't Get There from Here

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