Congestion Management and Transit Priority: Toronto’s Confused Approach

Two studies came through Toronto’s Public Works & Infrastructure Committee at its November meeting revealing a less-than-coherent approach to traffic management and transit priority.

The Congestion Management Plan (CMP) takes a city-wide view with two background reports:

The Downtown Traffic Operations Study (DTOS) has a much tighter focus on the core area from Bathurst to Jarvis with a northern boundary of Queen Street, except between University and Victoria where it extends to Dundas Street.  Background reports include:

Most striking about these reports is the fundamentally different way in which they approach their subject.

DTOS is very much about action, making specific changes “on the ground” to the way streets operate with the goal of improved capacity.  This includes a more sophisticated form of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) that would take into account not just the presence of transit vehicles, but whether they were ready to proceed through intersections.

By contrast, the CMP spends a great deal of time talking about the need for technology upgrades and for co-ordination among various agencies – City Transportation, TTC, Utilities, Emergency Services – to the point one might ask if any of them ever talk to each other today and, by extension, how much “congestion” there is simply in agency-to-agency co-ordination.  TSP gets pushed to the back burner here with a suggestion that it be granted only when vehicles actually need it, although how exactly that would be achieved given TTC’s chaotic approach to line management is anyone’s guess.  More to the point, the TSP facilities now in place were funded by the TTC, but City Transportation now proposes to hobble their usefulness.

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