May 6, 2000

Eternal gridlock feared

By SCOT MAGNISH -- City Hall Bureau

Toronto is in "imminent danger" of permanent gridlock that will drive up the cost of living and erode the local economy, the Greater Toronto Service Board says.

 In a strategic transportation plan to be tabled at next week's city council meeting, the GTSB says traffic jams are already costing the local economy $2 billion a year.


 Without improvements to transit, railways and highways, "the implications for the future are ominous," the plan says.

 The GTSB says the trucking industry in Toronto is worth $70 billion annually and handles almost 75% of all goods shipped in and out of the area.

 Transportation costs, it says, account for as much as 15% of the final cost of finished products.

 But with 70% of Toronto's freeways already at capacity and the population expected to grow to 7 million by 2021, more congestion is inevitable.

 That congestion, the plan predicts, will lead to additional economic, social and environmental costs that could affect not only Toronto, but Canada as a whole.


 "Our economic future depends on the efficiency of the commercial transportation sector, yet delays due to congestion have already added a 30% surcharge on the cost of moving goods," it says.

 The solution, it sums up, is a combination of new roads, better transit and improved railway service for all of the GTA.

 The report also recommends Toronto-based corporations adopt flexible work hours, a compressed work week and telecommuting.

 Combined, it says, they can reduce the number of cars on the road by up to 15%

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