News Release
September 7, 2021

Today, Mayor John Tory unveiled the City of Toronto’s action plan to safely and proactively manage traffic congestion this fall as workers plan their return to offices and other activities, and students get ready for schools to reopen for in-class learning.

Throughout the pandemic, City staff have analysed traffic congestion data, which in most areas of Toronto is now approaching pre-pandemic levels.

The City is committed to doing everything it can to address traffic congestion to help all road users get around the city safely.

Ahead of an anticipated increase in traffic volumes this September, over the summer, the City created a Congestion Management Action Team made up of senior City traffic management professionals. Their work included actively monitoring and coordinating timely responses to transportation issues across the city based on real-time data, and planning for a safe return to offices and schools.

There are three key traffic monitoring measures the Action Team rely on:

  • Traffic congestion – Traffic monitoring technology placed throughout the city to understand travel times.
  • Traffic volume – Watch Your Speed signs placed in neighbourhoods to slow traffic. These signs also play an important role in anticipating traffic volume by anonymously counting cars and pedestrians.
  • Travel mode volumes – Technology placed throughout the city to count the way in which people choose to travel (e.g. by vehicle, bike or as a pedestrian).

Data collected using each of these measures confirms that vehicle traffic volumes are currently similar to levels experienced at the start of the Province of Ontario’s Step Three reopening (July 16). Volumes are anticipated to rise in the coming weeks as people return to offices, schools and other activities.

During the Province’s COVID-19 lockdown, car volumes in school zones across the city dropped as low as 66 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes and are now at 80 per cent. During the morning peak period (8 to 9 a.m.), which was directly impacted by school closures, volumes dropped to 44 per cent of pre-pandemic conditions, and are now at 60 per cent before schools re-open. The data shows that daily car traffic dropped as low as 45 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes and is now at 75 per cent. Pedestrian traffic downtown also dropped down to 15 per cent but has now risen to 35 per cent. The data also shows that while city-wide travel times during the morning rush hour have remained significantly lower than during pre-pandemic periods, travel times have significantly increased in recent months during the afternoon rush hour, although they are still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

In order to keep traffic moving this fall, there is a list of measures being put in place by the Action Team:

  • Actively monitoring of traffic cameras around the city, especially at congestion hot spots to provide real-time problem solving.
  • Increasing the number of RESCU (Road Emergency Services Communications Unit) Operators monitoring and overriding traffic signals to manage congestion related to incidents.
  • Deploying all City traffic agents to the hottest congestion hot spots, including Lake Shore Boulevard and Gardiner access points, University Avenue, Front Street and Bay Street.
  • Reducing the number of rush hour construction exemptions issued (more exemptions were granted during the low-traffic periods of the pandemic).
  • Returning to pre-pandemic policies for construction near school zones to increase safety and ensure local schools are aware of any nearby construction.
  • Pausing new non-essential utility cut work during the first two weeks of September.
  • Deploying School Crossing Guards at 765 locations, improving safety as students return to in-class learning.
  • Activating ‘Smart Signals’ at 17 intersections to independently adjust to real-time traffic conditions and synchronize with other smart signals to alleviate congestion.
  • Accelerating and completing maintenance and connection of more than 900 pieces of technology that detect vehicles and provide valuable congestion insight.

The City is working closely with Toronto Police Parking Enforcement to actively patrol for no-stopping and no-parking violations city-wide to reduce congestion. Proactive enforcement of bike lanes is also continuing, and Police have indicated a 190 per cent increase in violations for stopping or parking in a bike lane when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Businesses are encouraged to provide flexibility for their employees in how and when they commute to the office and can help by encouraging staff to use alternatives to driving where ever possible.

Based on data, the Action Team has zeroed in on some downtown routes that will be actively monitored using as many proactive measures as possible to help keep traffic moving. These busy routes include focused measures on Lake Shore Boulevard and Gardiner access points, University Avenue, Front Street, Bay Street, Yonge Street and

Avenue Road. Even with additional measures in place, those travelling can expect some delays during peak periods.

There are ways members of the public can help reduce congestion as well. Those planning to make trips into or around the city are encouraged to ride public transit or use alternative commuting options such as walking and cycling. Students should consider using active transportation (such as bikes or kick scooters) to get to and from school, and avoid travelling by car.

To accommodate increased demand in September, the TTC is increasing service system-wide 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, deploying 180 special school trips to manage anticipated high school student ridership, restoring service on express routes and operating demand-responsive bus service to supplement scheduled service.

The RapidTO bus lanes installed during the pandemic are providing improved speed and reliability of bus service by an average of two to five minutes along parts of Eglinton East, Kingston Road and Morningside Avenue. Other transit priority measures available for those returning to office and school include the King Street Transit Priority corridor, which is an important and dedicated route within the downtown.

The City’s cycling network is bigger and more connected than ever before. ActiveTO has made choosing cycling easier by delivering an additional 25 kilometres of safe, separated bike lanes on major streets and along major transit routes. Learn more about ActiveTO .

Bike Share Toronto has a total of 6,850 bikes, 625 stations and 12,000 docking points across the city. More information about fees, memberships and promotions is available at Bike Share Toronto.

Smart Commute is encouraging a “fresh start” and working with employers to incentivize green commuting that reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road. For resources, guides and webinars visit Smart Commute Toronto.

A map is available to help plan routes and avoid road restrictions and closures.


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

“As we return to normal activities, we have an opportunity to think about the sustainable commuting options and actions we can all take to help reduce emissions and congestion. I encourage residents to consider walking, cycling or taking public transit.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and TTC Board Member

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 the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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