ttc subway

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.

Image: Paul Flynn/blogTO Flickr pool.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Traffic fatalities are way up in Toronto this year

This Toronto neighbourhood has seen the biggest spike in house prices over the past 15 years

Watch what happens when the TTC shuts down the subway

The cold supermoon is about to rise above Toronto

What Chinatown used to look like in Toronto

The lost discount shops of Toronto

The faded grittiness of Toronto streets in the 1970s

The top 10 places to buy a Christmas tree in Toronto