Everyone that lives in Toronto knows that Toronto’s traffic is among the worst in North America. Thanks to the Tom Tom Congestion Index, we now know that Toronto is the 6th worst when it comes to gridlock.
The Tom Tom Congestion Index neatly summarizes traffic information into one, easy-to-read percentage. Basically, they look at regular travel times and then compare those with the increase in time during congested periods. The increase in travel time during peak times is expressed as a percentage and voilà, they arrive at their primary point of comparison.
As you can see in the chart below, North America has a congestion level of 18%, which compares favourably with other parts of the world. However, Toronto, and especially Vancouver, are quite a bit above the North American average when it comes to traffic congestion.
According to a recent article in Canadian Business (The End of Gridlock), traffic is costing cities like Toronto billions of dollars. The economic and social price of traffic is undeniable and according to the CD Howe Institute, it costs the Toronto region between $7.5 to $11 billion a year. With new studies coming out with numbers like that, it is easy to see why politicians like Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Premier, are getting very serious about combating the problem.
The province is so serious about solving gridlock (and making some money in the process), that they are going to ram-through new means of taxing motorists in order to make it happen. The idea is that taxes that make driving more expensive will reduce the number of people willing to drive.
Although I do not necessarily agree with the effectiveness of a broad-stroke approach, I am a big fan of some suggestions, such as implementing fees for driving in key areas during peak times. That way you do not affect all drivers (not all of us are directly contributing to the problem — I, for one, commute against traffic, 15 mins door to door), with a focus on those that insist on being at the center of the problem.
What do you think about traffic in Toronto and other major cities? Should we begin taking drastic measures to put a stop to it? Leave a comment below.