toronto traffic

Toronto plans to improve traffic with smart technology that adapts to congestion

If there's anything Toronto is known for, it's the brutal traffic that plagues the city at all hours of the day — forcing motorists to sit idle for lenthy periods and leading to far too many collisions and pedestrian deaths. 

In an attempt to improve driving conditions in the city, because it's clear an improvement is desperately needed, Mayor John Tory announced a new action plan today "to help manage congestion and build a more resilient, modern and safe transportation system."

The new plan, titled MoveTO, includes five key proposed actions that would launch starting next year. 

The first of the five proposed actions is introducing "smart" traffic signals, which would have automatically adjusted signal timing based on actual traffic demand. City staff are proposing 500 "smart" traffic signal locations over the next five years.

The plan also calls for the implementation of "intelligent" intersections, which are defined in the report as "a set of technologies that will allow the intersections to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and form the backbone of a modern multi-modal data and analytics system."

Staff are proposing 100 of these locations over the next two years, with a focus on urban environments in locations with high multi-modal activity — meaning many different types of road users.

Advanced Transit Signal Priority (ATSP) is also proposed in the plan, which is technology that detects buses running behind schedule and extends green times when necessary. 

Staff are proposing the first 100 priority locations be installed with a focus on key TTC corridors across the city over the next two years, and they're also recommending that a strategy be developed to eventually enable transit signal priority at all 2,400 signals within the city.

The fourth proposed action in the MoveTO plan is to continue and grow the Construction Hub Pilot Program, which "helps manage traffic and reduce congestion caused by construction around work zones, improves communication with the local community, and keeps people safe."

City staff say the next step in this program is a focus on working with developers to do more to reduce the amount of time the right-of-way is closed to construction.

Finally, the plan proposes a Transportation Demand Management Strategy. This would include a set of measures that aim to help avoid congestion at specific times, locations, and on certain modes of transportation. 

This action would also include building on the existing Smart Commute program with local employers to provide additional supports for commuters, while also developing strategies to address more localized instances of congestion.

"MoveTO will keep Toronto moving now and into the future. This plan will help the city better manage traffic congestion in Toronto and deploy smart, common sense approaches that will help pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers," said Mayor Tory in a statement. 

"We are implementing this plan as fast as possible to make sure we have a modern and safe transportation system that responds and adapts to traffic in real time. These are realistic solutions that I know will make life better for everyone as they move around our city whether they are walking, cycling, riding transit, or driving."

The plan will be considered at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting on Thursday, Nov. 5. 

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