Traffic congestion: What on earth are we going to do about it?

If you live anywhere near a major city, chances are not a day goes by without being stuck in a traffic jam of some sort. That’s certainly the case for me here in Toronto, which has been rated among the most congested cities in North America on an alarming number of occasions lately. And traffic congestion is bad for quite nearly everyone – it causes more pollution, lower fuel economy, longer travel times and increased stress. So clearly we’re in need of a solution, but what’s it going to be?

Although I hate myself for saying this, the congestion charge does seem to work fairly well in cities with excellent public transit. However, I do not live in such a city. The Toronto Transit Commission is, on a good day, rubbish. It’s unreliable and about as comfortable as falling down a flight of stairs. Moreover, there are numerous commutes which it manages to do much slower than a car. My own daily commute takes one hour on the TTC, in comparison to the twenty minute drive.

So perhaps improving public transit is the answer? Yes and no. I think it will provide some incentive to get out of cars, with the impact most evident in the downtown core. But unfortunately there is a whole lot of congestion outside of the downtown core that is caused by people who could never consider public transit, for a wide variety of personal reasons. Perhaps they need the car for work, or maybe they live too far out of town for public transit to ever realistically serve them. But the point is, improving public transit will only really help in the core of town, where most commuters could use public transit if it served them well enough.

So what about other parts of the city? Well it honestly seems that the best idea would be to revamp the road system. Create more routes, wider routes wherever possible. Although I make it sound simple, it would be, without a doubt, catastrophically difficult. In a city there are already so many things surrounding roads, it’s very difficult to expand them, let alone add new ones. But perhaps we should look into more tunnels? More elevated roads? Whatever the solution may be, our road systems were designed many years ago for much fewer cars – it’s time for an update.

And for the love of all that’s holy, stop building those bloody carpool and bus lanes. Shutting a lane of traffic so that less vehicles can use it is an absolutely asinine idea.

Photo Credit: Michael Loke | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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