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New task force created to address Toronto’s traffic congestion woes

Traffic in Toronto can feel like a nightmare for motorists, but a new task force is aiming to find solutions to the growing problem.

“There’s a tipping point, and we’ve arrived at it, where people are so frustrated and it’s really starting to inhibit economic activity, business activity in the Toronto region,” said Giles Gherson, president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade is bringing together senior business leaders who will be tasked with identifying and championing practical, high-impact solutions to tackle the congestion crisis.

“We want the economy to thrive here,” Gherson said. “We’re still coming out of the pandemic so our recovery is one of the slowest in North America and that’s worrying because investors who will be putting new money into our economy and new jobs are holding back.”

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Recommendations will include measures to reduce current congestion levels and a comprehensive plan that considers projected population growth.

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“The international businesses are telling us that that they’re having trouble getting, for example, foreign international clients to come to Toronto. They’ve heard about how much time they’re going to spend in traffic, and they’re giving it a miss,” Gherson said.

Toronto drivers deal with the longest average travel times per 10 kilometre in North America at 29 minutes, according to a recent study by GPS and electronics manufacturer TomTom.

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It also found motorists spend on average of 98 hours per year navigating rush hour traffic.

This all comes at a cost to the city of $11 billion in lost productivity and opportunity annually.

Matti Siemiatycki, director of the Infrastructure Institute at the University of Toronto, says the task force should focus firstly on enforcement of traffic lanes and ‘no left turns during certain times that are being poorly enforced.’

“Number two is around construction. We need to make sure that the construction is actually coordinated. This is both road construction, water main construction, as well as residential construction that often take up a lane of traffic,” he added.

Siemiatycki also pointed to ridesharing and how many vehicles are on the road and whether that is contributing to congestion.

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“I know there’s a lot of debate and dispute about the impact,” he said. “I think that needs very careful study and then investments in public transit. We need to be providing people with really viable, safe alternatives, to using their cars or else that is the way that they’re going to get around it.”

By the end of the year, the task force is expected to provide solutions to the city that will have a real impact on how people and businesses move around the city.

“There’s a lot of technology available to help us model how the traffic will flow if you do this, or you do that. I don’t think we’re seeing that. I don’t think we’re seeing the use of data the way we should to understand how we can flow traffic differently because of these projects,” Gherson said.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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