Toronto will soon be able to use a new tool to battle congestion in the city by deploying Traffic Assistance Personnel (TAP) at routinely busy intersections.
“Over time, through a combination of disrespect for existing laws and failures to enforce them, our laws have become a joke and traffic has become more of a nightmare,” said Mayor John Tory during a press conference Monday morning at Yonge and Sheppard.
“There is no reason why a vehicle in rush hour, or any other time for that matter, should be blocking an intersection or that a vehicle should be blocking traffic waiting to make an illegal left turn.”
The city plans to deploy the service to better manage vehicles and pedestrians at high volume intersections. TAP will have the authority to direct traffic, manage pedestrian flow and keep the intersection clear of vehicles.
The pilot program, which is scheduled to begin June 15, will focus on eight intersections in areas throughout the city with paid duty police officers used to assess the impact and effectiveness of the initiative.
The areas include:
Bay St. and Queen St.
Front St. and Simcoe St.
Lakeshore Blvd. and Parklawn Rd.
Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave.
Front St. and University Ave.
Bay St. and Bloor St.
University Ave. and Adelaide St.
Bay St. and Front St.
If successful, the city says it will then ask the province if they can deploy civilians on a full-time basis in place of paid duty officers.
“That is under active discussion with the province of Ontario now. I raised it directly with the premier and they’re working on it and seeking to clarify the law to make absolutely sure that if we want to deploy non-police officers, like they do in Vancouver, New York and Chicago, that we would have the legal authority to do so,” explained Tory.
The city says the pilot project will cost $250,000 to start with money already allocated from the 2016 budget.
Since being elected to office, Tory has made it a crusade of his to increase traffic flow in the city by clamping down on illegal parking, better road closure reporting and traffic enforcement, improving traffic signals and speeding up construction projects on main arteries.