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Traffic data shows more people staying home to combat COVID-19 in Toronto: City officials

Click to play video 'Toronto traffic data shows people are spending more time at home during COVID-19 lockdown' Toronto traffic data shows people are spending more time at home during COVID-19 lockdown
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Toronto is releasing more data about COVID-19 traffic data. This time, the numbers show that more people are staying at home in the city. But the levels are still not what they want. The numbers need to be even lower to decrease viral mobility. Matthew Bingley reports – Jan 22, 2021

The City of Toronto has released more traffic data on Friday which shows more people have been staying home in order to combat the coronavirus.

The data was originally presented at the Board of Health meeting on Monday.

According to the data, “vehicle traffic continues to be at its lowest observed levels since Stage 1 Reopening back in May and June 2020,” however it is still higher than when restrictions were first announced at the beginning of the Spring.

The data takes into account three monitoring measures: traffic congestion, volume and downtown multimodal volumes.

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Traffic congestion

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Toronto uses the city-wide Travel Time Index (TTI) which helps track congestion values. The data shows a decrease in congestion during the afternoon peak rush-hour time of 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for March to April 2020 when the first lockdown began compared to February 2019 to February 2020. It began to increase in fall 2020 when restrictions were lifted and has since gone back down with the introduction of the second lockdown and stay-at-home order.

Read more: Toronto’s SickKids hospital report urges more masking, distancing for schools planning to reopen

Traffic volume

The City uses the “Watch Your Speed” signs as a way to monitor traffic in certain areas. The data showed that during the first lockdown, the volume of vehicles on the road “dropped to 68 per cent of baseline volumes during the afternoon peak hours (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The numbers started to increase again as high as 87 per cent in the fall and then dropped to 73 per cent when new restrictions were initiated.

Read more: Coronavirus: Toronto’s mayor speaks to Pfizer about improving COVID-19 vaccine production

Downtown Multimodal Volumes

Traffic counting technology is set-up at selected downtown intersections to “monitor how people choose to make trips.” The data showed daily car traffic decreased to 44 per cent during the first lockdown, went up to 73 per cent in the fall and dropped back down to 63 per cent once new measures were introduced. The technology also takes into account pedestrian traffic, which dropped to 17 per cent of “typical volume” during the first lockdown and is now at 21 per cent since the second lockdown.

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The City says the traffic data falls into line with Toronto Public Health’s “confirmation earlier this week that non-identifying cell phone data … is showing a growing number of people spending time at home, similar to the March 2020 lockdown.

The province is currently under a stay-at-home order.

As of Thursday, Ontario has reported 247, 564 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began and 5,614 deaths.