Traffic congestion is not increasing in central Toronto: it’s a suburban problem

The Mayor has jumped onto the traffic congestion crisis bandwagon: “Toronto’s economy loses billions of dollars every year from gridlock and traffic congestion. We need to make the situation better – not worse.” (presumably by adding another car lane). Councillor Parker at least seems to understand the issue by recognizing that we “cannot grow enough roads to accommodate every new resident in a private car; alternative means of mobility will be required” but still figures that we have to be “fair” by making “the most of the motor vehicle carrying capacity that our roads can provide”. Presumably this means in order to be “fair” to car drivers Parker would have to oppose any proposal that takes away an existing car lane.

Even though facts never get in the way of the mayor having his way, we can at least investigate this further into this congestion thing. Fact one: traffic into and out of the core has been virtually stable. In-bound person trips have hovered around 300,000 during the peak travel time of 7am to 10am between 1985 and 2006. Traffic congestion may be getting worse in other parts of Toronto – the number of in-bound and out-bound trips has increased for city’s boundary, but we shouldn’t confuse the rest of Toronto with Toronto’s Central Area.