TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto Mayor John Tory’s war on congestion has led at least one Canadian institution to alter the way it does business. Canada Post said it will change pick-up times in certain parts of the city and look for other ways to ensure it isn’t doing anything to make traffic worse.
In December Tory gave a speech outlining his six-point plan to improve the way traffic moves in the city.
“Traffic is strangling our city. People are simply fed up. It’s costing us millions in lost productivity every single day. But the cost of congestion is more than just a dollar sign. It means less time with your family. It means being late for work. And Toronto residents have had enough,” he said.
The first point in his plan involves preventing vehicles—both commercial and personal—from illegally parking during rush hour and dealing harshly with those that do.
“Starting January 1st, after a one month education period, there will be zero tolerance for vehicles blocking lanes of traffic during peak travel times on major roads.
“I want there to be no confusion—park there and you will be towed. If I have to chip in and drive a tow truck myself, we will be towing these traffic stoppers away.
“Far too often we see commercial vehicles with a dozen or more tickets hanging off their windshield wipers. There is no doubt there are those who are gaming the system. That will stop too. I have requested that our officials review ways to re-coup the $4 million lost annually to parking violators with out-of-province license plates.
“Facts are facts: people listen when there are penalties to their actions. And I am here today saying those blocking our roadways will no longer get away with it. The traffic crisis in this city is too urgent.”
Tory said he has the co-operation of Bill Blair, the chief of the Toronto Police Service, to redeploy officers from residential streets to major intersections and roads, to ensure there is enough extra personnel on hand to enforce the new rules.
In reaction to what is happening in the city, Canada Post is reviewing the way it operates in Toronto, examining pick-up and delivery operations, and is developing a plan to “help alleviate this issue.”
The Crown corporation said it “understands that the City of Toronto must address ongoing issues with traffic congestion and gridlock in the downtown core. We also understand that our own delivery vehicles contribute to traffic congestion. In order to meet the needs of our customers our employees have to temporarily park vehicles in the downtown core. They clear out street letter boxes, deliver and collect mail and parcels from thousands of residential and commercial addresses each day.”
Beginning today, Canada Post will add additional mail and parcel pick-ups at corporate and franchise post offices in the downtown cores between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM. The thinking is that will shorten the amount of time needed to clear out store at the end of the day, during the afternoon rush hour.
Then on January 12, Canada Post will implement later pick-up times for on-street mailboxes on the roads in the affected area. Additionally, the corporation said it is looking at changing the location and clearance time for almost 400 boxes in the area. Both of these changes are designed to shift stop-times to off-peak hours between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, and again after 7:00 PM.
There are also plans to “review of the activities that Canada Post doesn’t control directly such as delivery (including large volume receivers) and pick-ups (both on-demand and scheduled). Those changes will likely require adjustments from our customers: mailroom hours, drop off/pick-up locations, pick-up times, different mode of delivery (to first floor versus all floors, different entrance, etc.). We are starting those discussions with our customers as soon as possible.”
According to Canada Post, it will take time before all of its downtown operations can be altered. It reports that “within the 14 main streets in the area of Yonge/Bloor/Bathurst/Front, Canada Post serves almost 8,000 addresses, delivering and picking up mail and parcels on almost 200 delivery and clearance routes.”
The other points of Tory’s plan involve better co-ordination of road closures, and launching a “multi-organizational traffic enforcement team” and adding 40 additional cameras, which will allow “staff [to] communicate directly with Toronto Police about traffic problems and get them solved immediately.” (Tory would also like to gather the visuals shot by news organizations’ traffic-spotting planes and helicopters and feed them into this traffic control centre.) He also wants to see the police clear accidents sites faster, have more co-operation between police and traffic enforcement units, accelerate the reprogramming of traffic signals and the introduction of new smart traffic signals, make it harder to close roads for construction projects, and to speed up public sector construction and infrastructure projects.