Mayor describes the $4,000 price tag to retime each signal as “a low-cost way to get traffic moving.”

Picture of Toronto Mayor John Tory

Last year, 357 traffic signals were retimed on 11 key routes in Toronto, resulting in an eight per reduction in vehicle delays, Mayor John Tory said Thursday. (DAVID RIDER / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

The retiming dozens of traffic lights throughout Toronto has allowed traffic to move faster and smoother, Mayor John Tory said Thursday.

Last year, 357 signals were retimed on 11 key routes. That has resulted in an eight per reduction in vehicle delays, “which saves a lot of hours for a lot of people,” Tory said Thursday inside the city’s communications command centre.

The retiming has also resulted in a 10 per cent reduction in stops at red lights.

“This leads to significant reduction in things like fuel consumption and even ties into greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest single source of course being automobile traffic,” Tory said.

Traffic signals retimed included Wellington St. from Blue Jays Way to Church St., and McCowan Rd. from Steeles Ave. E. to Lawrence Ave. E.

“This is a low-cost way to get traffic moving,” Tory said, calling the $4,000 price to retime each traffic signal a “manageable cost.”

The city will expand the retiming program by updating an additional 357 signals on key routes. By 2017, about 1,500 traffic signals – 60 per cent – will be retimed.

Tory called this an “interim measure” and said bigger changes are ahead, with new systems to replace antiquated technology that belongs in a “traffic museum.”

“We are beginning a broader implementation of newer technology to manage traffic signals in the next year. That’s going to make a big difference.”

It will mean “more green lights and fewer red lights.”

It is technology that “finds different ways to actually sense the traffic flow and help to in effect retime itself,” Tory said.

Transportation Services is also continuing with a plan to install more traffic cameras.

While they used to be limited to the Don Valley Parkway, Hwy. 401 and Gardiner Expressway, they have now been installed on major arterial streets.

“Not only will that help the traffic control centre here to manage the traffic, but it will also allow individual citizens of Toronto to go online at Toronto.ca and have a look themselves.”

With this and other measures, such as the deployment of police officers in intersections, tag and tow initiatives, increased use of big data to determine traffic flow, “we’re going to make a big improvement.”

Tory said he would never claim to have the power to eliminate traffic in a big city, “but I am saying there are better ways to run it.”

Source: The Toronto Star