WATCH: Mayor pitches 'quick clearing squads', directing traffic to ease congestion

John Tory is pitching teams devoted to clearing problems on the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway and busy downtown routes to prevent frustrating, street-clogging backlogs.

"The stalled vehicle one's almost the worst,' the mayor told reporters outside City Hall Monday. "I've heard from the traffic reporters and from our police officers that can lead to sometimes an hour long backup."

Tory hopes to have one "quick clear squad" made up of staff from the city's transportation department patrolling downtown streets with another team focused on the Gardiner and DVP in the first half of 2018. The idea is to move lane-blocking problems that don't require police intervention out of the way as fast as possible.

The squads are one of six proposals to break up gridlock in Canada's biggest city.

1. Setting up two "quick clear squads" focused on busy downtown routes, the Gardiner and DVP (first half of 2018)
2. Permanent "traffic wardens" directing cars, pedestrians at congested intersections (early 2018)
3. Asking city staff to report on the possibility of increasing fines for drivers who block lanes during rush hour downtown
4. Asking utilities and telecommunications companies to move their lane-blocking, non-emergency work to 7 p.m.-7 a.m.
5. Installing smart traffic signals that monitor flow and change signal length accordingly (November)
6. Launching a traffic data-swapping partnership with way-finding app Waze (October)



Tory is moving to make permanent a pilot project that saw paid duty officers direct traffic at problematic, congested intersections.

"When officers were actively engaged, managing vehicles and pedestrians, we found a minimum of 90 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians."

Unlike the pilot, a permanent version of the program would have specially-trained civilians telling drivers and pedestrians where to go. While the locations they might be deployed to have not been formally identified, during the pilot officers watched off crossings like Queen St W and Bay St and Front St W and Simcoe St.

On the same morning Toronto Police launched a new blitz on vehicles stopped illegally during rush hour downtown, the mayor revealed he has asked city staff to report back on the possibility of increasing fines for rule breakers.

"It's obvious there are some people who are just not feeling the pain. And I don't think they should be shown any mercy."

Tory is scheduled to meet with delivery companies in the next week to explain the city's position.

The mayor will also meet with utilities and telecommunications companies asking them to push their lane-block non-emergency work until after the afternoon rush, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

In November Tory says the city will install its first smart traffic signals, which monitor traffic flow and adjust the length of a light rotation to account for it. A previously announced partnership with way-finding app Waze will begin in earnest next month. Under the deal the city and Waze will swap real-time traffic information to keep people better informed about what's happening on the street.