I recently read an online forum with Torontonians posting how they could solve congestion in the GTA. I was surprised when a large amount of commenters agreed that adding more highways and widening roads would equate to a decrease in congestion. I must inform you that this is not the case. Adding additional lanes and creating more highways will not solve congestion, it will actually increase this problem in the GTA. Matthew Turner (2009) an economist from the University of Toronto found that this is a direct relationship with increase road capacity and the addition of more vehicle on the roadway. They also found out that increase in public transit infrastructure did not reduce the these traffic woes. This excerpt from the article perfectly describes what roads allow drivers to do:

The answer has to do with what roads allow people to do: move around. As it turns out, we humans love moving around. And if you expand people’s ability to travel, they will do it more, living farther away from where they work and therefore being forced to drive into town. Making driving easier also means that people take more trips in the car than they otherwise would.

I believe that there needs to be a complete paradigm shift around public transit and single vehicle transportation. Firstly, I agree that tolls on our highways will work to partly reduce congestion. With the funds collected from the tolls going towards infrastructure development, transit improvement, and providing reduce transit passes to members of the public that needs it. Secondly, having tax incentives for using public transit, such as tax cuts to businesses that have most of their employees taking public transit. Thirdly, providing incentives to commuters that use alternative modes of transportation – cycling, electric vehicles, hybrids. Although, one could say that electric vehicles and hybrids are an elitist mode of transportation.

More importantly, I believe that today’s society are realizing the true cost of having a vehicle and the additional cost that comes with it; gas, insurance, maintenance.

In the end, to solve congestion woes in the GTA there needs to be a paradigm shift around transportation. There needs to be a cost associatied with driving, tolls are a solution for that.There also needs to be both promotion and proper funding towards public transportation infrastructure.

Read more here: Wired – Traffic Engineering Here

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