Toronto to test new ‘smart’ traffic signals

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Mon, Nov 6: Mayor Tory says a summer pilot project made a big difference in morning rush hour traffic. Mark Carcasole reports – Nov 6, 2017

Toronto Mayor John Tory introduced a pilot project to test two new smart traffic signal systems Friday morning.

Both systems will be able to adjust based on real-time traffic conditions, as opposed to traditional traffic signals that are programmed with a set timing cycle for morning and afternoon rush hours and off-peak times.

The systems, which will be installed over the next few weeks, use sensors and cameras to get a read on traffic patterns and adjust accordingly.

READ MORE: King Street pilot project: ticketing begins for motorists who disobey traffic signs

Tory says this initiative is one that makes sense and will have a tangible effect.

“We all know the experience of sitting at a light that is red, noticing that traffic going the other direction is non-existent, and saying, ‘Why is this light red? Why can’t it be green because I’m sitting here waiting to go and maybe a lot of people lined up behind me.’ Well, this technology is going to finally allow us to have an answer to that question. We won’t be sitting at a red light when there’s no traffic.”

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One of the two types of new signals will be tested over the next year at 10 intersections on Yonge Street, while the other will be tested at 12 intersections on Sheppard Avenue East.

READ MORE: Mayor Tory wants special constable status for Toronto’s new traffic wardens

Toronto was the first city in North America to use a computerized traffic control system, back in the 1960s. Some 2,400 of the city’s traffic signals are computer-controlled.

However, the existing system is aging and as a result of communication breakdowns and difficulty getting replacement parts, the city says it needs to be modernized.

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