Toronto ranks one of the worst worldwide for traffic congestion, report finds
By Edward Djan Staff Reporter
Torontonians routinely complain that traffic in the city is among the worst in the world. Now, they have proof.
According to new report, the city was seventh globally in in total congestion in 2022. According to the traffic data company Inrix, Torontonians lost an average of 118 hours from commuting, up by 59 per cent from 2021.
Toronto also took the top spot for the most congested city in Canada, while placing third among North American cities when it came to traffic delay times.
Inrix said in its report that it uses “anonymized GPS probe data to identify the most frequented routes and destinations throughout a region” for its findings, based on four years of mobility data
The company claimed that during peak commute periods, that average travel speeds in Toronto were 32 km/h in 2022, down from about 42 km/h in 2021 and about 50 km/h in 2019.
Off-peak travel speeds were more consistent over the years, with 61 km/h being the average speed in 2022 and 2019 and about 63 km/h in 2021.
Robin Lindsey, an operations and logistics professor at the University of British Columbia, said factors such as speed limits and city size could affect how long a person spends in traffic.
While building more roads and highways could reduce traffic temporarily, Lindsey said, it won’t make a lasting difference. Lindsey pointed to induced demand, where supply — in this case roads or highways — will eventually generate more demand.
“If you expand roads and build new ones, you have more lanes. It makes travel more attractive because it’s done more quickly. So you’re going to get more trips,” Lindsey said. “Some of those may be new trips that weren’t taken by any transport mode beforehand. Or it’s people who are fed up with public transit or cycling long distances, and they start driving.”
While Toronto was near the top of the rankings, other Canadian cities also were featured on the list. Montreal ranked No. 33 with 72 hours lost on average in 2022 due to congestion, followed by Vancouver at No. 58 with 59 hours, Winnipeg at No. 107 with 48 hours, Calgary at No. 460 with 20 hours and Edmonton at No. 834 with seven hours lost.
Lindsey said if cities such as Toronto want to combat traffic congestion, they must invest in public transit.
“Expanding public transit is a better option, but it’s quite expensive and the money is limited, particularly given that ridership is down, so less fare revenue.”
In Toronto, while riders may soon be forced to pay more for public transit, they’re also set to get less for their money.
The TTC’s 2023 budget is set to cut service by five per cent, increasing the maximum wait time for trains from seven to 10 minutes during off-peak hours.
The transit agency’s proposed service cuts are wide-ranging, with a three per cent cut to bus service, five per cent cut to streetcar service and 15 per cent cut to subway and LRT service compared to November 2022 levels.
The budget also includes a 10 cent fare increase.
The transit agency has been struggling with ridership since the pandemic began. Ridership plummeted to 37 per cent of pre-pandemic levels when COVID-19 first started spreading.
The TTC is forecasting ridership to reach 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.
Lindsey said when cities neglect public transportation, people will continue to look at automobiles as an option for travel.
“You can get a downward spiral. As transit services aren’t so good, then people say ‘I don’t want to take transit’ or ‘What’s the alternative?’ Well, one is the car, it’s still the primary mode of transport in North America.”