Ontario province reopening

The fate that the covid-19 pandemic has subjected the world to was unknown before the pandemic hit the world. It has confined most people to their homes additionally causing havoc in their minds. This has made the traffic scene go through a multitude of changes. The changes continue as the world starts resuming work in the wake of lockdown relaxations and an increasing number of vaccinated individuals. 

The traffic levels in Ontario had dropped to nearly 60 percent of the pre-pandemic levels in April 2020. This can be attributed to the stay-at-home guidelines. However, it quickly shot up to 85% in December 2020 before the guidelines were issued again. This is a great sneak peek into the coming times when people would be back on the roads owing to their work and other commitments.

How are commuters likely to approach roads as they get back to their routine?

Amidst the fear of coronavirus, commuters are avoiding public transport and prefer to walk or use their car instead. This will lead to crowding of roads as the majority of the population gets back to work. It will also be a challenge to ensure the safety of commuters given the volume of traffic on the roads. 

The volume of people using public transport has already gone down and new vehicle sales have soared higher. Also, the Covid-19 situation is quite unpredictable and with unexpected lockdowns, the whole situation is changing quite rapidly. At this moment, people are preferring private vehicles or walking over taxis, public transport or carpooling.

Although in May 2020, it was observed that the rush hour traffic levels were as low as about 75% of the pre-pandemic levels. However, this doesn’t say anything about the situation now as people get back to work. Based on the experience in China where rush hour traffic levels soared upwards as the lockdowns were lifted, the same can be expected in Ontario. This can also be attributed to the reduced use of public transportation.

While it is true that public transportation is associated with a higher risk of Covid-19 infection, it has played an important role to help essential workers commute. It has also helped sustain transportation logistics within the city. However, it is natural for people to be skeptical.

How parking behaviour will be impacted post covid?

The increase in vehicles on the roads will also mandate the need for more parking spaces. This may further cause congestion on the roads if proper parking space is not facilitated. It may also lead to safety concerns for pedestrians and lesser space for them to walk. In a populous city like Ontario, this is a big challenge to create space for the sudden surge in the number of vehicles on the road.

What is the solution?

These challenges call for refining, redefining, rethinking, and reshaping the commuting model in Ontario. New layouts that facilitate social distancing and accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians are a need of the hour. It will also require designing more and better parking spaces with increased monitoring of roads to ensure smooth and safe commuting within the city. Better planning and management can help sail through these difficulties and help to achieve a more efficient transportation model for Ontario

A people-centered commuting model is what will help Ontario deal with the challenges in the post-pandemic world. Changes also need to be made to the public transportation model to make it safer and encourage commuters to use it. This can be done in many ways, such as increasing physical distancing and reducing the number of stopovers.

More research must be done to understand potential improvements in the city’s commuting infrastructure are required to ensure that the road scene in Ontario is not a traffic nightmare.

We at Trans-Plan consult in traffic engineering & planning and find this time a critical point in the industry. We are a transportation engineering company with vast experience in the field. Contact us to learn more and get our expertise on the matter.

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