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#CITYCOMMUTE: Traffic congestion costing drivers millions

Last Updated Dec 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm EDT

Toronto is home to some of the worst traffic in Canada – that’s not news. In fact, the city has the dubious honour of being home to 10 of the 20 worst bottlenecks in the country.

But now, long suffering Torontonians can quantify just how much they are losing out on because of the congestion — in dollars.

A recent study by the CAA reveals that in the span of just one year those bottlenecks have cost about $200M in lost productivity, or 7,722,000 hours of lost time.

The 15 kilometre stretch of Highway 401 between Highway 427 and Yonge Street cost drivers over 3 million hours in lost time and $82 million in lost productivity.

And the congested stretches aren’t just the worst in Canada, they crack the list of top ten bottlenecks in all of North America.


“The bottleneck survey identified that there are solutions that can be done and that are available,” says Teresa De Felice, a spokesperson for CAA.

The drivers’ group commissioned the Conference Board of Canada to study the best congestion-busting practices. They developed a long list that includes tolls, ramp metering, variable intelligent speed limits, time of day restrictions on truck traffic and time of day speed restrictions.

The province does employ some of those measures, but not consistently.

There are six metered ramps along the QEW — ramps that limit drivers access to the highway and prevent the freeway from being flooded with cars when it reaches capacity. They were installed in the 1980’s, and recent upgrades cost $460,000.

And while tolls keep the 407 running smoothly, with preliminary numbers from the pilot High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the QEW suggesting a ten minute savings for users each way, plans to expand their use is relatively slow.

“We know that over the next few years we’re going to be building out our HOT lanes on other highways around the GTHA,” Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca tells CityNews. “So for example, on Highway 427, which starting in a few months will be expanded north from Highway 7 up to Major Mackenzie, we know that will be the next segment of HOT lanes,”

But that won’t happen until 2021, more than three years from now. De Felice says transit is good but investments in combating congestion have to be more immediate and need to take priority.

“There are some investments that have been made but it needs to be made more of a priority. We’re seeing investments in transit now, and those are important, but they take a long time.”

And as the CAA study clearly reveals — time is money.