The City’s Traffic Agents program is a congestion management strategy that places Traffic Agents, employed by the City, at key intersections during the morning and afternoon peak traffic periods. The role of traffic agents is to actively manage the movement of people who drive, bike and walk through key Toronto intersections – which reduces delays and improves safety.
When queued vehicles enter an intersection and block the entire intersection, including crosswalk and bike lanes, they prevent the flow of cross traffic, pedestrians, and people on bikes. This causes traffic congestion and can endanger pedestrians by forcing them to navigate between vehicles. People with disabilities and seniors are more vulnerable to this situation, particularly when they use a wheelchair.
Pedestrians can also restrict traffic flow. Those who disobey traffic signals contribute to congestion by blocking the movement of right turning vehicles. Pedestrian signals are timed to stop the flow of pedestrians at a certain point during the cycle. Often times, pedestrians will continue crossing the intersection causing drivers to stop their vehicles in the intersection.
Blocked intersections make emergency vehicle travel times less reliable and increase their average response times.
As special constables, Traffic Agents are empowered by the Province of Ontario to actively manage traffic at intersections in Toronto – and they’re here to help.
While their focus is on reducing congestion and educating people driving, on bikes and pedestrians, agents may be required to issue parking violations in some instances.
Traffic Agents will help reduce traffic congestion by:
The program, as approved by Council, will include 16 full-time Traffic Agents Special Constables, two supervisors and a program manager.
The Traffic Agent program was successfully piloted in 2016 and there was at least a 90 per cent reduction in blocked intersections during the pilot period and at least a 70 per cent reduction in blockage of intersections by pedestrians.
The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) states that only police officers are allowed to direct traffic at signalized intersections in Ontario. Paid duty officers were previously placed at various key intersections that are mainly in the downtown core.
City staff worked with Toronto Police to develop specialized training for the Traffic Agents and for them to be appointed as special constables (in order for them to be empowered to manage traffic) by the Ministry of the Solicitor General at the Province of Ontario and the Toronto Police Services Board. Traffic Agents are also subject to extensive, mandatory police background checks and a fitness assessment as part of their conditions of employment.
Traffic Agents are identified as a contributing program as part of Toronto’s Congestion Management Plan.
In May 2016, City Council approved item EX14.2 Update on Paid Duty Activities, whereby Council requested the Province amend the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and Ontario Traffic Manual Book 7 to permit alternatives to police officers to direct traffic.
Using full-time City of Toronto Traffic Agents supports the Toronto Police Service Plan for Action: A Way Forward by allowing police to focus on other core duties and ensuring intersections will be staffed consistently to help keep Toronto moving.
If you would like to submit a concern about the performance of a Traffic Agent or have a concern with the Traffic Agents Program, please complete the online form. All submissions will be reviewed by City staff in accordance to the City of Toronto Traffic Agent / Special Constable Complaints Procedure.