Today, the City of Toronto is officially launching the new Traffic Agents program which will help keep people moving through busy intersections while also improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and drivers.
Mayor John Tory has championed the establishment of this program, successfully secured the necessary permissions from the Province of Ontario, and Toronto is now the first city in Ontario to deploy Traffic Agents on its streets.
There will be an opportunity for media to capture b-roll, and for one-on-one interviews with program staff at a downtown intersection as today’s morning rush hour starts.
Details are here:
Date: Wednesday, November 18
Time: 7 a.m.
Location: Queen Street West and Bay Street (meet at northeast corner of the intersection in front of Old City Hall)
In total, 16 full-time traffic agents have been hired and will be available to actively manage intersections during peak morning and afternoon rush hour periods.
There are 11 key intersections initially identified for traffic agents to manage. These locations have been prioritized by City staff using traffic data and trends:
Traffic agents will be placed where they are needed most based on evolving traffic demands and the need to improve safety and congestion. As the program evolves, and potentially expands, it’s expected that other locations across the city will be identified and included. One or two agents will be deployed to a single location depending on the size and complexity of an intersection.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, City staff continue to observe increasing traffic volumes as well as new peak traffic times and deploying traffic agents now will help move people and improve road safety at intersections.
Actively managing intersections is a proven and effective way to keep traffic moving by ensuring all road users comply with the traffic signals, helping to reduce potential collisions and reducing occurrences when vehicles are stopped in the intersection after the signal has changed which prevents on-coming traffic from travelling through (known as ‘blocking the box’). During a pilot study by the City of Toronto, there was an approximately 90 per cent reduction in blocked intersections and an approximately 70 per cent reduction in blockage of intersections by pedestrians when paid duty police officers were present and active.
Under the Province’s Highway Traffic Act, only police officers are allowed to manage traffic at signalized intersections in Ontario. Mayor Tory, the Toronto Police Services Board, the City and the Toronto Police Service worked with the Province to ensure traffic agents could receive special constable designation and make this program possible.
The program comprises 16 full-time Traffic Agents, two supervisors and a program manager to manage and run the operations. The process for hiring full-time traffic agents was extensive including interviews, detailed police background checks, and comprehensive in-class and in-field training – and took several months to complete.
The City of Toronto Traffic Agents Program is a congestion management strategy that supports the actions in the proposed MoveTO plan as well as Toronto’s Vision Zero road safety plan. The plan also supports the Toronto Police Service’s Action Plan: The Way Forward.
“Traffic Agents will make a difference on our streets. These agents have been proven as an effective way to keep traffic moving by ensuring motorists, cyclists and pedestrians comply with the traffic signals; by helping reduce potential collisions; and by reducing the blocking of intersections. I look forward to seeing the new agents actively managing traffic at key locations in the city.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture, and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit http://www.toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.
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