The City of Toronto is moving ahead with its Traffic Agents program.
Six full-time City of Toronto Traffic Agents will be recommended for designation as special constables at next Thursday’s Toronto Police Services Board meeting.
Once approved and sworn in, these newly hired individuals will be designated as special constables and will be permitted to manage traffic at signalized intersections in Toronto. It’s then expected they will be fully deployed at Toronto intersections before the end of 2020.
The City Traffic Agents Program is a congestion management strategy that will place Traffic Agents, employed by the City of Toronto, at key intersections during morning and afternoon peak periods. Traffic volumes in Toronto have been lower than normal during the pandemic, however, City staff continue to observe increasing trends in traffic volumes especially during peak periods.
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 approximately a 90 per cent reduction in blocked intersections and approximately a 70 per cent reduction in blockage of intersections by pedestrians when paid duty 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. 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.
There will be 16 full-time traffic agents, two supervisors and a program manager to manage and run the Traffic Agents program. The remaining 10 Traffic Agents are expected to be hired soon and should complete training throughout November.
The process for hiring full-time Traffic Agents is extensive including interviews, detailed police background checks, and comprehensive in-class and in-field training. This process can take up to a few months for each candidate.
Full-time City of Toronto Traffic Agents will support the Toronto Police Service’s Action Plan: A Way Forward.
“We know that congestion caused by blocked intersections is frustrating and dangerous – and avoidable when actively managed. These traffic agents will be able to actively manage traffic at key intersections to help reduce congestion and keep traffic moving. I’m confident that these new traffic agents will make a difference on our streets and help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory
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