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Toronto reveals traffic congestion plan as students return to school, jams increase

Last Updated Sep 7, 2021 at 2:43 pm EDT

September means a safe return to school for students and staff while coinciding with a noticeable increase in traffic and subsequent headaches for drivers on Toronto streets.

As a direct result, the City of Toronto unveiled a traffic congestion plan designed “to safely and proactively manage” the issue this fall.

Following data inspection studied by City officials, they determined that vehicle traffic volumes are now similar to levels experienced at the start of Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan dating back to July 16.

Statistics show that daily car traffic dropped as low as 45 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes and is now at 75 per cent and anticipated to increase further as people return to work and school.

The City says that while Toronto-wide travel times during morning rush hour are still lower than during pre-pandemic periods, travel times have increased in recent months during the afternoon rush hour.

“The lives and livelihoods of Toronto residents depend on being able to move around our city each day. I am confident that as Toronto residents return to normal activities, any resulting traffic congestion is being managed effectively,” said Mayor John Tory on Tuesday.

“We are examining the traffic data and making any operational improvements necessary to ensure people can move quickly, reliably and safely through the city.”

Tory says downtown pedestrian traffic initially dropped to 15 per cent but has now risen to 35 per cent since mid-July.

As part of the City’s plan, officials will look at traffic congestion, traffic volume and travel mode volumes moving forward. Tory says that Toronto Police officers will be out in full force monitoring for “no-stopping and no-parking violations city-wide to reduce congestion.”

Last week, the City announced that the TTC would increase its service to support the expected increase in ridership, including 25 per cent more subway trains on Line 1 and Line 2 at peak times on weekdays.

It’s the first day back to school after the summer break for many Ontario students.

Classes resume today in boards including the Bluewater District School Board, the District School Board of Niagara and the Halton District School Board.

Some other boards – including the largest, the Toronto District School Board – will start classes on Thursday.