What Causes Toronto Traffic?

I drive a LOT in downtown Toronto traffic, so I decided to start filming some examples of why gridlock plagues our city, as I head east, west, north, and south on a daily basis.

Here are four videos that I’ve shot in the last couple weeks, which outline four of the major reasons why Toronto seems to be one giant traffic jam.

There are other reasons, no doubt about it.  But until I quit my job to make iPhone videos all day, we’ll have to settle for these…

TorontoTraffic

I wish I had more time.

I wish I was in my car more.

I wish I had a video camera stuck to my head, to record everything I see and do.

Only then would we be able to come up with a “Top 30” list of causes of Toronto traffic.

Here are four videos I shot, and four root causes of Toronto traffic.

1) Construction

Construction has to be the #1 cause of traffic congestion in the downtown core every year, without a doubt.

But while I understand that we, as a city, need random holes dug in city streets while eight guys stand around watching, smoking cigarettes, and getting paid, I do think there’s a lot of times where construction equipment is left behind when it need not be.

Have a look at this example:

 

2) TTC

I’m going to take hell for this one, but so be it.

I’ve long maintained that streetcars are a ridiculous form of public transit, since they’re stuck in ONE lane of the road, and can’t move left or right.

bus would be able to move to the right, pick up people, and let cars pass on the left.

But a streetcar simply allows people to walk THROUGH the lane of traffic, to the streetcar, while cars stop around it.

Or sometimes, they just stop in the street, and clog traffic.

Like this:

 

3) Delivery Trucks, Buses, & Anybody Doing Anything

What good is a four-lane road when it’s down to two lanes?

Richmond Street drives me insane, since the left and right lanes are always stopped with delivery vans and buses.

Every day on Richmond Street, Fed-Ex, UPS, Shred-It, and any delivery van in the city will pull over, park illegally, and turn a 4-lane road into three lanes.  A bottleneck is created, and traffic results.

Check this out:

 

4) People Pulling Over

This needs no explanation.

And hey – wasn’t John Tory going to ticket these guys 24/7?

Don’t worry, folks.

I was actually born with three hands, and I can drive with both feet.  These videos were shot with safety in mind.

I didn’t set out to do this as a blog feature, but rather I just started to film things that bothered me, and after a week and and a bit, I had these four videos.

I set the “causes” up to match with the videos I shot, but if you can think of true “root causes” of traffic congestion, please share in the comments section below.

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  1. Axel says:

    You forgot condo and office buildings (or maybe that’s part of construction). You also forgot pedestrians. They’re crossing streets when they shouldn’t, disallowing cars to make turns (left and right) and further blocking traffic.

    And finally, some people commenting are a little too dense to understand the writer isn’t suggesting streetcars be replaced with cars. He’s suggesting they be replaced with buses. And I agree, aside from not having to maintain tracks, electrical wires and the quagmire Bombardier put us into with their horrible streetcar manufacturing BS, you can rarely pass a streetcar. Sometimes though, a streetcar line uses buses instead and it’s so much better as a driver. You know the bus is going to pull over soon enough. Furthermore, if you’re at a light and a streetcar comes up beside you and lines their rear doors up with your car, the pedestrians barely have any room to maneuver around you and end up damaging your car. Fantastic. Streetcars are a shit-show. It’s not 1916 anymore.

  2. Sandy says:

    I’m a native centenial Torontonian and up until 8 years ago traffic never effected me. In Toronto, in order to survive you must live within blocks of where you work and narrow your existence to your local direct community.

    In 2009 I purchased a property in Ancaster (that’s just outside Hamilton) but I still live in midtown Toronto and now COMMUTE!!!

    Commuting is tantamount to sticking hot needles deep into your eyes….it is he’ll. The worst though is being witness to all the idiotic wreckless dumb ass things people do either on our highways or streets of this once incredible city.

    So here’s an idea…we have all these traffic lights designed with magical powers…green go yellow slow and red stop. If your on University Avenue for example heading south to Front you may turn left and turn right. I don’t know about you folks but why not allow a walk don’t walk system for pedestrians. Pedestrian traffic clogs the flow of traffic tremendously. Someone turning left but can’t for fear of running someone down, someone’s turning right and same problem. 4 lanes now down to 2.

    Am I crazy? Or is the simplicity of this just too obvious to justify our city planners paychecks?

    As a sidebar…why does the GO not offer more express trains like VIA. VIA is 39 minutes from Burlington to Union with 1 stop. The GO takes an hour and 10 minutes…that extra time does add up especially if you commute daily

  3. Emanuelly says:

    Thanks Mikko!! Actually I just figured that out and was about the post the news of seccuss. Though one thing I did not figure out was how to add /usr/local/bin to Apache’s environment path variable. I tried the SetEnv PassEnv directives, and also the php function putenv(). None of these worked. The way I got it working was to place a symbolic link to /usr/local/bin/gs in /usr/bin.

  4. IanC says:

    Yup… Too many cars. More bikes and better transit is what I would like to see.

  5. Joe Q. says:

    This is a great topic. I’m late to the post but Kyle basically summed up what I would have written. There is clearly a supply-demand imbalance involving road space, yet people get extremely upset (see above) at the idea of raising prices to reduce demand.

    On-street parking ties into this as well. In my neighbourhood there are plenty of Green P parking lots, but yet traffic slows to a crawl, mid-day on weekdays and all day on weekends, due to the complete “consumption” of half of the available road space by parked cars. Clearly there’s enormous demand for the limited available supply of road space. Is there a way to correctly price parking spots on arterial roads that accounts for this? Throwing up one’s hands and saying “it’s too complicated” isn’t really an option.

    As for streetcars — there are plusses and minuses. David’s comments about blocking traffic are well-taken. On the flip-side, streetcars can hold far more passengers than buses can, so doing a direct replacement at equal capacity just leads to more vehicles on the road (and more diesel pollution at street level).

    Getting public transit moving more efficiently is probably the key to unlocking Toronto’s traffic woes, but I still doubt (even in the post-Ford era) that we have the political cajones to make it happen.

  6. condodweller says:

    This is a timely topic! Did I just hear that TTC is contemplating fare increases again!?

  7. Paully says:

    Great topic David! You have inspired a lot of discussion comments with this one!

  8. Kyle says:

    I TTC, walk, and drive, so i get the frustration. But the reality is A Grant is pretty much right on. Our city’s population has increased by about a half a million people since the turn of the century. With that many more people in the same area demand for real estate increases, including the black top real estate with yellow and white lines painted on it. So while the road demand has increased and the road supply has remained constant, the cost to drive on it is still basically $0. This makes no economic sense. Just as i chastise the bears for being entitled and delusional for thinking that they “should” be able to afford a detached house in downtown Toronto, just because people could in the 90’s, i am chastising drivers for being entitled and delusional to think they “should” be able to drive unfettered with minimal traffic from one end of our city to the other without paying a thing for it.

    As for the streetcar-hate, we need to consider it against alternatives.In 2012 the average daily ridership on streetcars was 271,000 people (probably even higher now). If we magically made streetcars disappear, what would happen? Can you just imagine if there were 271,000 more single occupant cars on the roads were streetcars run? Buses you say – You’d need three or four times as many buses to carry the same capacity? Personally when i’m driving i’d rather have to wait to pass three streetcars in traffic than twelve buses. Streetcar track construction on the other hand is indeed a cluster f’ that deserves hate. No way it should take as long as it does to replace tracks – it’s just pure mismanagement.

    1. Boris says:

      Let’s be very, very clear. The cost to drive is nowhere near zero!!! We pay 13.2% marginal provincial tax (400 series highways), we pay City of Toronto property taxes, we pay 15 cents a litre provincial tax, 10 cents federal tax, HST on all of that, environmental fees on cars, licensing fees, insurance, more HST, drive clean fees etc etc.

    2. Kyle says:

      I’m talking about Toronto roads and highways. These services are paid for by the City. The City pays for about 20% of the TTC and 100% of it’s own roads.

      1. Boris says:

        The services are not paid for by the City, they are paid for by US!!! Where does the city “get” revenue? Us!!!

        Property tax is for roads, police, fire. Roads are a huge part of the budget. Parking tickets, fees. All of the insane taxes and fees and surcharges we pay for at the municipal, provincial and federal level – this funds the TTC!

        How do you people not understand that nothing is free!! WE PAY FOR IT ALL SOMEHOW!!!!

        1. Kyle says:

          Obviously. We all get that. The point is road users aren’t paying DIRECTLY for their usage. A TTC rider’s fare roughly pays directly for 80% of his trip. Taxpayers pick up the other 20%. While a road user pays 0% directly for the road. And all other forms of tax pays for 100% of his trip. This makes no economic sense at all. The model is broken and not going to ever result in less traffic ever. The only way to fix traffic is to fix the model (i.e. have people pay for their usage instead of other indirect forms).

          1. Boris says:

            It’s too complicated. The way transfer payments work, budgets, the entire electoral system and promises etc. You’re basically calling for throwing out the entire politicized budgetary process. Which might be a good idea! Just not for the sole reason of directly paying for the roads.

            I don’\t disagree with you at all. I would rather we get rid of our current health care system and create a Scandinavian style hybrid model with multi tiers.

            Here is the rub – once you start peeling away the onion, you start realizing the rotten core. If transit money is only for transit and health care only for health care, then where is all the money going to come from for welfare? Benefits? Bloated government bureaucracy? Lump it all together and they can get away with pissing away funds with no accountability – look at the Ontario Liberals.

          2. A Grant says:

            @ Kyle

            This is bang on. Almost all government services, paid for by taxes payers, also require some sort of service fee by the actual user. Whether this is getting a new passport; using your community recreation centre; or travelling by transit.

            The only exception being travelling by car on government roads. Yet, these are the very roads that lack sufficient to resources maintain properly…

            The only reason why a lot of municipal roads work at all is that it depands on a certain % people to take alternative means of transportation. These people, who pay property taxes to support infrastructure maintenance, end up subsidizing the cost of roads for those who do use them.

          3. Kyle says:

            Bingo! The only way to get there in my view is to provide an alternative that at least in part funds itself. I don’t think it’s realistic to fix the whole tax system, but if i need an operation and the next available appointment is two years away, for sure i’m booking a flight to where ever i can pay for front of line service. Likewise when i find myself rotting on the Gardiner not moving at all, i wish there was a wide open lane that cost me $3 to use.

    3. Kyle says:

      Ironically the only revenue the City gets from it’s roads, are when people aren’t even travelling on it (i.e. parking) or when people are violating it (i.e. tickets and fines). Seriously that is just perverse.

      1. A Grant says:

        @ Kyle

        Especially if one subscribes to the invisible hand/free market/supply and demand side of economics.

        I mean, there are limited number of roads in downtown Toronto. They can’t build any more.

        There are limited express routes into downtown Toronto, and they’re certainly not about to build another Gardiner Expressway anytime soon.

        So supply is limited and always will be.

        But demand is huge and increases every year as the population grows.

        Yet we use the roads for free. I would have thought this would have driven someone like Boris crazy…

        1. Boris says:

          Free!!!! Nothing is Free. Erase that concept fro your brain. Like when Americans talk about our ‘free’ Health care. Nope.

          The ‘general coffers’ of government are what allow them to negotiate transfer payments as bargaining chips with the provinces, ‘buy out’ ridings and piss money away on idiotic programs. Earmarking revs for certain projects ties down kleptrocratic politicians from being able to redistribute wealth to their political advantage.

          A more poignant topic would have to do with commuters from other tax municipalities using another city’s roads on a daily basis without contributing anything to that tax pool. Again, not a provincial highway but city street.

          I am okay with a user fee for various roads at certain times. But we should also do away with gasoline taxes as well as many others that are not use based or behaviour based. They should sell VIP cards too that allow you to speed in certain autobahn type lanes on say the 407.

          More free will type revenue and less “initiatory violence” based revenue!!!!

          1. myeo says:

            Why not have a $5 per day congestion charge per vehicle but with a partial rebate for people whose primary residence is in the City of Toronto. This would make those who live outside the city but use our roads daily pay for the use and not leave the tax payers picking up the full cost.

            A rebate system could be phased-out over time, but would be a good idea at the beginning to mitigate the number of townspeople with their pitchforks.

  9. BillyO says:

    Re: the streetcars are bad replace with buses debate:

    http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/ford-for-toronto-matt-elliott/2014/07/23/derailing-old-arguments-for-getting-rid-of-streetcars.html

    In short, streetcars > buses due to increased capacity and slightly better (or at worst) equal speed.

    And in reference to the ‘you are the traffic issue’ (which is true), please see:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/19/public-transit-gif-toronto-streetcar-ttc_n_4304258.html

    David I’ve followed your blog for years and have learned so much for which I thank you kindly. However when it comes to transit I think there is a lot more you could learn. If you are interested:

    http://stevemunro.ca
    http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/forums/transportation-infrastructure.8/
    And of course TTC and Metrolinx reports.

    1. Boris says:

      Are you actually referencing a Metronews ‘article’ as your evidence that streetcars are not awful? That’s like finding a wife in NOW Magazine. And then you quote HuffPo after?!! Give me a break!!

      You have no credibility all of a sudden.

      You just don’t get it – its a right, a personal property right to be able to use a car. It’s what makes us different than an Orwellian state. Do you understand the waste that has gone into.the streetcar program? The new cars are years late, tens of millions over budget. You realize streetcars cause multiples more to maintain including tracks and the wires and additional maint staff.

      I’m not going to address your METRO article, but stats can be cherry picked to find anything you want. I have driven in dozens of world class cities, and streetcars ARE the worst. I have read articles (not from METRO!!) that have concluded multiple studies with the opposite conclusions.

      To sit there are lecture David and say “you don’t know anything about transit” is an arrogant, pompous left wing attitude, plus you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Please get fucked.

      1. Tom says:

        Boris, or should I say David,

        I’m not sure where to start with you guys, but let me try and break this down for you.

        You advocate getting rid of streetcars and instead think that we all should drive around in our own personal cars. What do you think will happen to traffic when the 40,000+ people/day who currently ride the 501 Queen streetcar line all start driving? I’ll spare you the mental energy, here’s a visual: http://www.wearetraffic.org/sites/default/files/images/Bike_Car_Comparison.jpg. And that’s just road space. What about the parking crisis that would be created?

        Toronto is a large city now. Large cities do not function with residents all driving around in their own 2,500lb steel and plastic pollution machines. You claim to have observed how major world class cities function, but your thinking certainly doesn’t reflect it.

        I’ve been reading your comments and I’m sorry to tell you, but YOU are the one that just doesn’t get it. Your way of thinking is short-sighted, simple-minded, self-centred, and completely out of touch with reality.

        The answer to our transportation woes is more streetcars, more buses, more LRTs and less single occupant vehicles. This WILL happen, whether you like it or not, because it is the only solution, at least until teleportation is invented. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of provincial small towns and country roads without public transit where you can burn fuel to your heart’s content. Either that, or trim Toronto’s population down to what it was in the 80’s. But then David wouldn’t have much of a real estate job anymore would he.

        1. Axel says:

          You forgot condo and office buildings (or maybe that’s part of construction). You also forgot pedestrians. They’re crossing streets when they shouldn’t, disallowing cars to make turns (left and right) and further blocking traffic.

          And finally, some people commenting are a little too dense to understand the writer isn’t suggesting streetcars be replaced with cars. He’s suggesting they be replaced with buses. And I agree, aside from not having to maintain tracks, electrical wires and the quagmire Bombardier put us into with their horrible streetcar manufacturing BS, you can rarely pass a streetcar. Sometimes though, a streetcar line uses buses instead and it’s so much better as a driver. You know the bus is going to pull over soon enough. Furthermore, if you’re at a light and a streetcar comes up beside you and lines their rear doors up with your car, the pedestrians barely have any room to maneuver around you and end up damaging your car. Fantastic. Streetcars are a shit-show. It’s not 1916 anymore.

      2. Joe Q. says:

        its a right, a personal property right to be able to use a car. It’s what makes us different than an Orwellian state

        It might be a personal property right to OWN a car, but it certainly can’t be a personal property right to USE one on public roads — unless you think we should do away with driver and vehicle licensing.

      3. TheDonald says:

        Driving is a privilege, not a right.
        Our overall assumption that one should be free to drive wherever, whenever, however, is valid. But…if you end up congestion, STFU and don’t complain about it. You are in your car, by yourself, and not with the huddled masses in the streetcar beside you. Happy now?

  10. condodweller says:

    What causes traffic?

    LRTs. St. Clair used to be a great fast route E/W and now it’s to be avoided. Queens quay is a mess since it was reduced to single lanes. Why do streetcars need a reserved lane? Here’s an idea: give street cars the right of way such as emergency vehicles. When you see a streetcar, pull over, when you don’t see a street car, which is what 50-90% of the time, enjoy the extra lane.

    People blocking traffic in intersections when the light turns. Can’t we adopt the redlight cameras to issue automatic tickets to people sitting in the intersection?

    Unintelligent traffic lights. I bet you Google can solve this in no time.

    1. Fro Jo says:

      I disagree with your recollection, CD. During the morning rush hour, St Clair was an unmitigated disaster between Dufferin and Avenue. Now traffic moves, consistently, if slowly. My two complaints now are: (1) the reserved lane is fugly, and (2) the frequency and spacing of streetcars. OK, three complaints.

      1. condodweller says:

        I’m sorry but you can’t disagree with my recollection. It may be suspect, but it is what it is 🙂

        Granted I rarely drove St. Cair in the morning rush, I did mostly the tail end of the evening rush and I did notice not only that travel time increased during rush hour, they even changed the traffic light timing during the off hours. I remember being able to drive right across from Yonge to Keele hitting mostly green lights as long as I did the speed limit. After the LRT went in, it was as if they intentionally wanted to block traffic because I hit mostly red lights which was so frustrating I started avoiding it all together. I judge by the total travel time, not by consistency.

        Disclaimer, this was a few years ago, not sure if it has changed since.

        The frequency is my whole reason for not liking LRTs. I get the idea they want them to move freely, but I don’t like the trade-off to penalizing cars when you can achieve similar results by creating a rule that streetcars must be given the right of way when they are behind you as you would for an emergency vehicle as I noted in my above post. Sacrificing a whole lane of traffic makes no sense to me. If they are modelling European cities they missed the mark because they don’t reduce traffic lanes to give right of way to streetcars.

        1. Fro Jo says:

          Aha, quite right. Unless of course David and I have an Inception-via-TRB-thing going on wherein I’m messing with your recollections, or… Anyway, good catch!

        2. Joe Q. says:

          The practical aspects of a forced ROW rule for streetcars are mind-boggling. Difficult to enforce and a recipe for disaster as hundreds of drivers are forced to change lanes on a regular basis to make room for approaching streetcars.

  11. myeo says:

    Congestion charges.

    1. A Grant says:

      Agreed wholeheartedly. Something similar to London, with the resulting fees are used locally to fund transit improvements; road repair; sustainable transportation alternatives; etc.

      1. Kyle says:

        Just to put things in perspective (albeit simplified). On average 271,000 people pay around $3 to take streetcars each day, while 228,000 cars travel on the Gardiner (E of 427) and 110,000 cars travel on the DVP (N of Blayview/Bloor) each weekday for $0. This makes no economic sense at all.

        The streetcars are actually profitable and in effect subsidize other parts of the TTC. So if we eliminate profitable streetcars, other unprofitable parts of the TTC would likely be lost as well (i.e. the outer bus lines). Now just think about how those 271,000 ex-streetcar riders and however many ex-outer bus line riders are going to get around and what that will do to traffic.

        1. AndrewB says:

          Also the streetcars help create the vibrancy in our streetscape.

  12. Libertarian says:

    To play devil’s advocate….all those tour buses, school buses, Iron Mountain trucks, Fed Ex trusts, etc., represent economic activity. Isn’t that why we have roads – to facilitate economic activity? It was the middle of the afternoon – not rush hour. Would it not have been worse if those vehicles were taking up lanes after 5:00 p.m.? Those trucks are probably told to do their work outside of rush hour.

    People say that business trucks should operate overnight. But who wants to work the graveyard shift? Why should those employees be treated worse than the average 9-to-5’er? The 9-to-5’ers should work the graveyard shift.

    This is just a reminder that Toronto wasn’t built for 4 million cars. We need alternatives to the car so that not every car on the road has only one person in it. Car pooling, HOV lanes, tolls, more public transportation, etc. All of these ideas have to be implemented if we want any real change. As long as people want their cars and their house in the burbs, things will not get better. No politician has the guts to tell citizens that we’ve become a spoiled, selfish, greedy society.

  13. RenruT says:

    On-street parking is far worse than streetcars. At least streetcars actually move. There is no reason why we need on-street parking on major arterial roads such as Queen street. Giving up half of a major road to parked cars is beyond ridiculous for a city this size.

  14. Fro Jo says:

    Traffic was so bad this morning that I was able to borrow some Grey Poupon from the limousine next to mine. Surely a city of millionaires can figure this one out. I for one blame the renters who clog the arteries with their inconvenient forms of transport.

    1. @ Fro Jo

      I loved this!

      Until I realized you were being sarcastic…. 🙁

  15. Paully says:

    Sadly, Toronto traffic congestion seems to exist mostly because short-term elected politicians lack the political wherewithal to make and stick to long-term road and transit decisions.

    Plan a subway or highway. Study it. Debate it. Approve it. Hold an election. New council reopens debate on approved subway or highway. Study it some more. Change plans. Cancel plans. Pay the contractor to not build it, via huge pre-negotiated cancellation fees. Rinse. Repeat.

    I understand that when the Bloor Viaduct was opened in 1918, it was built with a lower deck to accommodate FUTURE rail transit. The Bloor Danforth Subway only opened in 1966, almost fifty years later! Can anyone imagine the current Toronto City Council planning something that valuable, that far in advance of it actually being used?

  16. Kyle says:

    What happened to those towing blitzes? Those need to happen more frequently and not just when Tory wants to get some media coverage.

    1. @ Kyle

      Tory is working on our much-needed Olympic bid………………….

      1. Pape says:

        Every morning on my way to work I see cars being towed on King East

        1. Kyle says:

          Hearing that warms my heart

  17. A Grant says:

    Sorry David, but the first thing you should have done is pointed the camera towards yourself. Because the great contributor to congestion…

    Is you.

    Congestion is caused by traffic

    1. Boris says:

      nominated for all time stupidest comment.

      Congrats A Grant. Go slither away to your corner now…

      1. A Grant says:

        Well that certainly wasn’t my intention. I was actually referring to a well-worn Walt Kelly quote: “I have met the enemy, and he is us.”

        Regardless, the point stands. David asked us to think about the “root causes” of traffic congestions and I’m sorry, it’s not construction; it’s not streetcars; it’s not delivery trucks; it’s not people pulling over.

        The root cause of traffic problems is traffic itself. Or, if we want to be more specific about it, the prevalence/rising number of single-occupant motor vehicles in a city with limited space to accommodate them. So unless the solution is to build five more Gardiner Expressways through the heart of the city (although Google “induced demand” and you’ll find this really isn’t a solution), the only solution is LESS traffic.

        1. Boris says:

          nope. MORE roads. smarter lights. better timed construction.

          Induced demand is a failed economic concept. Supply side Keynesian idiots think its a thing, but its not a thing thats a real thing.

          1. A Grant says:

            I hate to tell you Boris, but when it comes to traffic planning, induced demand is a proven concept (it is also a valid economic concept, but that’s not the point…) I should also point out that REDUCED demand – that is a reduction in road capacity – can result in less traffic. In such situations, because driving is made more difficult and more time consuming, people change their behaviour and find alternate means to get around.

            The point being you can’t build any MORE roads in Toronto, unless you want to start raising neighbourhoods wholesale again (I invite you to look at the history of freeway development in the 1950s-1960s to see the impact this had on cities and the people who lived there). Sure, you can build more/wider roads leading into Toronto, but that’s only going to make traffic in the core worse, not better.

          2. Boris says:

            I hate to tell you A Grant, but its important to understand the whole economic relationship. The reason that induced demand is a troubled concept is because you aren’t actually inducing demand, you are realizing latent demand – demand that was always there.

            Studies on roadways citing induced demand admit that new highway lanes are filled by people diverting their previous routes, reducing congestion elsewhere. Rational. The induced demand studies ignore the reduction of traffic on other arteries and focus only on the quick filling of new capacity.

            Secondly, what are the GDP benefits of reducing gridlock? Substantial. The elasticity of demand starts at less than 0.5, meaning that travel time reduces by a unit of 1 while the number of cars increases by a number much lower, leading to a non zero sum increase in GDP (time is GDP). The ratio (elasti. of demand ratio) increases toward 1 over time, but other roadways also see benefits in time/GDP as this happens.

            The bottom line is that its complicated. Whether you use regression analysis, monte carlo simulation or the leaf reading, there is no real understanding on how this works, how they interact together, and the net effect on the rest of the road network. It’s too complicated. You can’t base policy on something that we don’t understand.

        2. Jimbo says:

          I get what you’re saying but European solutions will not work in Ontario or Canada. The top complaint Europeans have about Toronto are the overly large roads and the endless parking lots. Unfortunately we live in suburbia(urban sprawl) and or economy now relies on it. Another thing to keep in mind and another difference with Europe (I believe) deals with proximity of adult kids to their parents or other family members. The majority of us need cars to visit family.

          Perhaps when southern Ontario reaches a population of 80 million people we will be able to afford and implement a public transit system similar to Germany’s. We are so far behind even the US when it comes to transportation but we are the product of too few people in an overly large area.

          I would love to see Canadian cities implement a bike trail system that gives you access to most parts of the city similar to many older European cities. I truly believe that is within our grasp at the moment.

          1. A Grant says:

            The funny thing is, the idea that Europeans don’t have suburbs and don’t have long commutes is actually false. Overall, Americans and Canadians live closest to their working place or school – only 32% of North American commuters need more than 30 minutes to get to work.

            Meanwhile, 39% of Europeans travel over 30 minutes to work/school.

            The difference is Europe has sufficient high-speed public transit in place, thereby avoiding the large roads and endless parking lots we have here (for the most part, for this certainly exists throughout Europe).

        3. Jimbo says:

          I get that European cities have suburbs as well, but you can not compare NA and Europe with Toronto. 330 million people live in the US and the majority live in modern/newer cities with proper planning. I’m living near Salt Lake until the end of this month and I can tell you, traffic flows and public transportation is run by the state not each individual city. It is incredibly easy to transfer from each bus/train and get from a city north of SLC to one South of it.
          Once you leave the north east coast of the US you can live 30 miles away from the city and get DT in less than 30 minutes in rush hour (nix LA). You can not do that in Toronto. So the majority of that statistic is a product of US planning and has nothing to do with Toronto.
          Europe is more densly populated than southern Ontario and can afford the costs associated with mass public transit with an extra incentive of they can’t afford not to have it.
          I would love to see a high-speed train that services London-kingston allowing all the communities in between to become possible commuter cities to Toronto, Ontario may need it to sustain all of the communities that are losing jobs and economic activity as Canada transitions into a service industry. But with all of the petty politics and individual wants of each community it will most probably be a pipe dream

          1. Bertie Wooster says:

            Second this. One thing I’ve noticed in Ontario after living most of my life south of the border is that the US just has a lot more roads. Because of the Interstate Highway System, most US cities have a network of beltways that keep most traffic off of city streets. In Boston, for example, I-93 and I-90 are the main N-S and E-W roads, while 2 rings of beltways (Rt 128 and I-495) keep through traffic (mainly trucks) out of the downtown core. Boston traffic used to suck but the big dig solved most of the problems. Driving in Toronto, on the other hand, feels like driving a taxi in the third world because you have 1 big paved road (the 401) and you have to learn how to use the back streets to avoid the super-congested main thoroughfares.

    2. @ A Grant

      Point taken.

      Congestion is caused by cars. I get it.

      But what I’m getting at here is delays and inefficiencies. The “flow” of traffic being disturbed.

      Surely a lane of traffic sections off by construction cones for no good reason doesn’t help the flow of traffic.

      And I still believe that the TTC streetcars taking up TWO lanes of traffic as the pick people up from the right-hand lane, while sitting in the left-hand lane, is inefficient. A bus could pull over. I just don’t get it…

      1. A Grant says:

        Hi David,

        My apologies for coming off as trite. To expand upon my point, I think you are missing the forest for the trees. As I noted above, dealing with the four issues you mentioned won’t really solve traffic flow in a city like Toronto. The solution is to get people out of their cars.

        Yes, I know you’ll be the first to say that, as a real estate agent, you need a car. I get that. The problem is, EVERYBODY says that. And the problem is, we simply cannot build sufficient infrastructure to allow everybody to drive when, where, how and as fast as they want. I know I will be pilloried for saying this (Boris, have at it…), but honestly, we need to make driving LESS practical; LESS easier; and MORE costly. In turn, the alternatives must be made easier and cheaper.

        1. condodweller says:

          “we need to make driving LESS practical; LESS easier; and MORE costly”

          Forgive me for taking this out of context, however, it sounds just as bad in context.

          “In turn, the alternatives must be made easier and cheaper”.

          With this, I agree. But not at the expense of the former statement.

          1. A Grant says:

            My point is that there are limited disincentives to driving — tolls? parking levies? congestion charges? They don’t exist. Meanwhile, there are plenty of disincentives to taking transit, walking and biking. If Toronto really wants to get people out of their cars, then its policies need to be rebalanced.

          2. condodweller says:

            @Grant

            I’m all for incentives to getting people out of their cars i.e. better transit etc., but I’m totally against extra charges i.e. congestion fees, toll roads/lanes.

            The best incentive would be to improve transit and reduce its cost. They can start improving by making the subways reliable. I often have the chance to take the subway but I chose to drive because I can’t afford to be late for meetings or leave half an hour early just in case I get stuck in the tunnel. Murphy’s law rules when it comes to getting stuck. The more important the meeting , the more likely I will get stuck! TTC management is totally incompetent when it comes to reliability. I have used the subway system in another major city for years and I don’t remember ever being stuck in the tunnel. Regarding cost, I don’t understand how TTC can continuously increase fares while complaining that ridership is decreasing. Economics 101 dictates that price should drop when demand drops. Unless they plan to increase scarcity by making service less frequent!

        2. Boris says:

          Why don’t we simply ban cars? Fossil fuels too. Airplanes, electronics, the internet. It’s all bad.

          Nope, better idea – lets let the market decide. How? maybe make ‘platinum lanes’ on the 401, you need a transponder that costs money. How about a fee for travelling downtown at certain times? How about more roads funded by the private sector?

          By your logic no inventions or technological innovations would EVER be justified.

          The idea that you promote the government using its threat of violence to enforce banning something like a car is absolutely disgusting. Are you Kathleen Wynne?

          1. Fro Jo says:

            Hey, actually good ideas in paragraph 2. But man are you prickly today.

          2. A Grant says:

            Wait, wait, wait… When I say make driving less easier and more costly, that’s precisely what I’m asking for. Platinum lanes; transponders; congestion tolls at certain times (among other things).

            Fine, you believe that the private sector should take responsibility, while I believe the opposite, but the results are still the same.

            And I’m certainly not suggesting violence – where do you get that?? In fact, given the number of death and injuries caused by car crashes every day, I would argue that promoting more car use increase violence…

        3. @ A Grant

          Believe it or not, there is an agent with my brokerage who takes public transit.

          He or she (really don’t want to give it away here…) doesn’t own a car!

          There was a “green friendly” Realtor a few years back that rode his bike. Believe it or not, he’s in politics now. Gee, I wonder which party…

          1. A Grant says:

            @ David

            So it is possible – might I ask how this agent in your manages it? Better yet, why? I mean I assume that both you and this agent receive encouragement to drive (in the form of tax deductions for gas and other car-related expenses). Why take public transit when driving is in effect cheaper?

            And is this not perhaps part of the problem? I mean, if we agree that congestion is caused by cars, should de facto incentives to drive more exist?

          2. Boris says:

            Where do I get violence? It is simple. Any law in force is backed by the implied threat of initiatory violence. How so? Let’s say you refuse to pay some new levy the province installs on small business. Eventually they will assess your company, possibly put a lien on your establishment, rescing your business license, and when these things are ignored, likely come to arrest you. Arrest is performed under the implied threat of violence – resisting arrest will have you beaten, tazed, shot etc. All in the name of enforcing a law that is immoral, reduces your personal liberty and is arbitrary.

            Nearly every law stands with an underlying threat of violence – on which in our society, the state has a monopoly on.

          3. A Grant says:

            @ Boris

            Okay, I understand that your preferred system of government is none at all, and that without laws, people would be free to pursue their own self-interest without interference.

            I suppose that’s what makes Somalia such a great place to live.

            But in all seriousness, what you proposed before – that the private sector ought to be more involved in the road business through fees, tolls and “platinum lanes” – well this still needs to be enforced, does it not?

            If you take advantage of this for-profit infrastructure and you refuse to pay, isn’t the end result the same? The only difference being that the police would be “threatening you with violence” on behalf of the private sector, instead of the public, which to me, is a much worse scenario.

          4. Boris says:

            A Grant – as for your scenarios about how private law enforcement and private courts work – I suggest you read Murray Rothbard’s work – he covers how all of this works. One key component is that there is no state controlled monopoly on violence. Property rights are enforced by the courts, which are unpoliticized. . The point though is that there is no political mechanism tied to the judicial.

            If you are spraying bullets in a grocery store, you will be met with bullets in this scenario. However, the political process that leads to many arbitrary laws does not exist. The key is that the law is centred on maintaining property rights of individuals and balancing that vs impinging on others. An example would be current arbitrary speed limits across all roadways. Each owner of said road could set their own limit, terms and consequences for speeding, accidents, etc.

            Your example of Somalia is hilarious. A country with zero property rights, massive UN intervention, no court system, religious based conflict over centuries (most religion inherently conflicts with property rights), pa history of occupation (British, French and Italians once occupied Somalia) that led to westerners forcing sham governments (Somali Democratic Republic). Basically the complete opposite of what we are talking about.

      2. AndrewB says:

        Have to disagree with you here David. You, as a single person in a single occupied vehicle, don’t get to complain about inefficiency against a streetcar that carries almost a hundred people. That’s entitlement.

    3. RPG says:

      Agree with David on this one.

      Toronto is a poorly-run city and the roads are 2-3 times as clogged as they would, could, should be.

      These videos are a microcosm of the lack of leadership and foresight.

    4. Maggie K. says:

      @A Grant. Exactly. Too many cars.

      1. Boris says:

        That isn’t your decision to make. That isn’t government’s decision to make. Government is a group of individuals that operate under a mental model that they have the legitimate right to initiate force.

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