EXCLUSIVE: The return to normal could mean a longer commute

Traffic

As more begins to reopen and more people return to work, don't be surprised if end up spending more time in the car.

NEWSTALK 1010 has heard from transit riders who say they are no longer comfortable on the TTC and polling from the University of Toronto shows they're not alone.

25 percent say they would not return to transit until there is a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Assistant Professor of Economics, Jonathan Hall, is an expert on traffic congestion and transportation.

He says, based on traffic modeling and some quick math, if all of those people decided to drive, commute times could grow by 16 percent.

The average commute in the GTA is 42 minutes each way. That would equate to an extra 14 minutes in the car each day.

Hall says there are other considerations that could impact the degree to which travel times increase, including our ability to stagger our start times.

"If these people switching from transit are the kind of people who must get to work at 8 or 9 in the morning and can't get there early, then that might mean traffic gets even worse," Hall explains.

So, how do we deal with it?

He suggests encouraging people to work remotely, or only go into the office a couple days a week.

But there's another, less popular option.

"Economists have had an answer for over 100 years. The public and politicians aren't a fan of it, but that answer is road tolls."

Hall says tolls based on time-of-day can encourage drivers to shift their commute to off-peak times, carpool, or take transit.