Following last week’s attention-grabbing survey showing a majority of carriers are concerned about the PanAm Games effect on Toronto traffic and nearly half are considering implementing surcharges, MTO and city officials attended an exclusive roundtable with motor carriers and stakeholders at OTA’s offices today to discuss organizers’ transportation strategy throughout the Games.
MTO went over the Ministry’s “Keeping the Region Moving” strategy (full slide deck available here: Transportation Planning for the Games_public) which covered transportation planning around the city and Games venues including traffic measures such: road closures; signal timing coordination modification; parking and stopping restrictions; turning restrictions; conversion of roads to one-way operations, police managed traffic control points; and the increase or transfer to HoV lanes on GTA highways, many of which go into effect this Monday June 29.
On the latter point, MTO explained how the left lane on some select stretches of highway, including Hwy 401, will be converted to HoV lanes during peak hours. Unlike some previous cities that hosted recent Games, the HoV lanes for Pan Am Toronto are not limited to only athletes and Games officials. Passenger vehicles with three or more carpoolers will have access to the HoV lanes, although the lanes will be restricted to commercial trucks regardless of how many passengers are inside.
Upon hearing of some of the plans, OTA and several carrier attendees urged officials to consider making policies as fluid as possible so that decision-makers can have the flexibility to change rules in reaction to unforeseen events, such as a major accident that exacerbates congestion or worse-than-expected traffic delays around venues. Carriers also stressed that traffic planners should work closely with police on rapid clearance of accidents on highways. MTO confirmed that officials should be able to adapt their procedures if necessary based upon consultation with stakeholders, although he didn’t provide specifics. He added that each Games route has two ‘alternative routing options” in case of an emergency or major delay.
MTO provided carriers and businesses several important tools for monitoring traffic, planning routes and adjusting schedules during the Games. An essential tool is the 2015 Games Trip Planner, a real-time information app providing live traffic information around the GTA. The app will give you the best route to get to your final location with alternate route options based on traffic density. You can also sign up to receive instant email, sms alerts, or hands-free audible alerts about incidents, travel times, time changes of events, along your customized routes on the ‘My Routes’ tab. Download a desktop or mobile app version here.
The MTO’s own dedicated webpage will also be updated each evening at 8 pm to forecast the following day’s expected traffic congestion based on the Pan Am events of that day. The site also allows visitors and businesses to create a traffic plan, receive email updates, and provides detailed maps of Games venues, routing and all sorts of road restrictions throughout the GTA.
OTA, meanwhile, has consolidated much of MTO’s mapping and routing data and customized it for carriers geographically. It’s a must-have for any carrier traveling in the GTA over the summer. Click here: Pan Am Games Reference Material for Carriers_public
A separate section in today’s presentation focused on the MTO’s Off-Peak Deliveries pilot project in various regions across the GTA (click here for slide deck: OPD Industry Outreach Deck PanAm_public ). Organizers used the pilot to find out whether easing certain nighttime restrictions (such as noise bylaws) and switching deliveries to off-peak and overnight would lead to reduced congestion of highways, increased availability of parking and loading bays and more reported productivity from transporters and businesses. MTO reported several benefits from the first two phases of the project as well as several considerations and ideas for improvement for future phases.
OTA will continue to update material and inform members of new information as it becomes available throughout the Games.