When exactly is rush hour in Toronto?
When is rush hour in Toronto might be a bit of a difficult question to precisely pin down. As Jerry Seinfeld aptly sums it up, in big cities "everybody goes every way all the time." It's true. With a population of 2.7 million, traveling by highway or public transit is never a lonely experience in Toronto, even if most people wish it was. But when exactly is a trip by road or the TTC most likely to involve delays?
As far as the TTC is concerned, the busiest time of the morning is between 8:15 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.. That's when all the available subway trains, streetcars, and buses are in service to meet the biggest spike in demand, says spokesman Brad Ross. Officially, the morning peak is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., but those 45 minutes in the lead-up to 9:00 a.m. see the most crowding.
On the highways, the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway is most congested at the same time: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Mike Brady, the manager of the city's Traffic Safety Unit, says that's when vehicle speeds are slowest due to the sheer weight of traffic. The highest number of vehicles - not necessarily the worst delays - occurs weekday mornings on the Gardiner west of Kipling at the same time, he notes.
The afternoons are a little harder to navigate. The TTC says, based on observation, demand tops out between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., several hours after the highways are most congested from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.. The afternoon transit peak technically lasts from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., so perhaps it's a case of the roads cresting before public transport.
Conclusion: There are three distinct rush hours in Toronto. The first, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., is when both highway speeds and transit crowding are worst. In the afternoon, the second rush between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. is when the DVP and Gardiner are slowest. The third rush, slightly later between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., is when the TTC is most claustrophobic.
Maybe it's time to find another way home.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.