Congestion? Where’s the Congestion?

Recently we have heard a lot about congestion and its supposed causes.  The single largest ones, of course, are the lack of investment in transit and the continuation of building an auto-oriented GTA.  There are more people (and cars) hunting for space on a limited amount of roadway, and nowhere near enough capacity to handle all of the demand.

Transit will help, partly, eventually, but the sad fact is that development and travel patterns encouraged by auto-oriented planning cannot simply be reassigned onto a transit network.  There is no 905 equivalent of “King and Bay” to which we can conveniently funnel thousands of riders, let alone a network of routes focused on such a location from century-old travel patterns.

We can try, but there are limits, and the brave statements by Metrolinx about reducing congestion are at best optimistic.  Even Metrolinx acknowledges that their 25-year network, fully built out, will only keep congestion (or more accurately auto trips) at the current level, not reduce it.  Moreover, reductions in corridors where transit makes inroads will be offset by increases in travel where transit is not competitive.

In another thread, a discussion sprang up of problems related to congestion and to a list of the 10 worst intersections in Toronto.  Some have the temerity to point out that none of these has a streetcar line anywhere near it, and indeed a few are served by the Sheppard subway, that panacea for all our transportation ills.

To keep comments on this thread together, and to leave the original thread for its purpose  (Citizen Commissioners on the TTC), I will move the congestion-related comments here.