Gridlock is a fact of life in the GTA, but if it’s not addressed, it could cost Toronto residents, says report by Toronto Region Board of Trade.Gridlock on GTA highways is costing $125 per household per year, according a new report from the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
The study area included the Toronto, Waterloo, Hamilton, Oshawa and Guelph Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).
“Congestion remains the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor’s most pressing economic and lifestyle challenge, but it’s also costing our businesses and residents millions each year in higher prices,” according to the board, which is scheduled to release the report Monday morning.
One million tonnes — $3 billion worth of goods — are trucked through the region every day, but gridlock is slowing down deliveries, resulting in expensive fixes, the costs of which are being passed on to consumers.
Raw materials such as steel and produce aren’t arriving in time at manufacturers, and manufactured goods aren’t getting to ports, airports and rail terminals in time. Goods can’t reliably be moved into the U.S. or abroad, which affects trade with other countries, according to the report.
Moving goods across the so-called last-mile is increasingly problematic and the lack of unloading areas in the city — particularly around the area of King and Bay Streets — drives up the cost of parking tickets for couriers and trucking companies, according to the report.
“Auto and auto-parts manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and logistics firms — they all tell us that an inability to move their goods to market or receive products from suppliers in a timely fashion makes their businesses less competitive,” said Jan De Silva, president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
“For example, a vehicle’s components can cross the border up to seven times before it is complete. We can’t have auto parts stuck in traffic on our region’s highways if we are going to be part of this internationally significant supply chain.”
The Toronto-Waterloo corridor is the largest distribution hub in Canada and one of the largest in North America, with large retailers and manufacturers serving Eastern Canada — and in some cases all of Canada — from distribution centres in the corridor.
Traffic delays result in higher fuel and trucking costs, production shutdowns as companies wait for parts, and lost business opportunities — some companies don’t want to locate in cities choked by traffic.
The delays cost $500 million to $650 million per year in higher prices for goods nationally, according to the board.
The increased costs affect retail, housing and even food services.
Hwy. 401 around Toronto Pearson airport was identified as the area’s most congested highway.
Councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre) said developing technologies offer hope: smart traffic lights that move cars more efficiently through intersections can improve traffic flow and computer-controlled cars can optimize speed and distance to improve timing and safety.
Better public transit is an important part of the solution.
“There are a lot of components to gridlock,” Holyday said.
In 2009, congestion in the Toronto CMA was estimated to cost $6 billion in lost productivity, which was estimated to grow to $15 billion by 2031 if nothing was done to address this problem.
“Without action, businesses who are already here may choose to make investments elsewhere, while those who aren’t yet here may bypass the region altogether. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” De Silva said.
“The good news is governments at all levels are focused on tackling the congestion challenge.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie couldn’t comment on the report directly, but said gridlock and congestion are hurting not only her city’s economy but the “quality of life for Mississauga residents and those across the GTA.
“Time in traffic is time away from the priorities of life. It’s a problem we must tackle today or we’ll pay dearly for our inaction tomorrow,” she said in an email to the Star.
Source: The Toronto Star