A total of 76 vehicles were towed as well as 592 parking tags and 37 provincial offence notices were issued yesterday, as the Service began its rush-hour traffic route enforcement initiative to reduce congestion and gridlock.
Traffic Services officers, along with Parking Enforcement officers and downtown Divisional officers, were on the lookout for anyone breaking the law by parking illegally, making illegal turns, or blocking lanes, amongst other common violations during the rush hour from 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.
The enforcement came after month-long education campaign, “You know you shouldn’t, so don’t,” where the public was made aware, via public service announcements and officer-issued warnings, of the zero-tolerance policy on rush-hour routes starting in the New Year.
The usual offenders, such as taxis, delivery trucks, courier services and construction companies were all warned beforehand of the stricter enforcement come January 5. Most seemed to be complying.
“What was interesting, this morning, was that these vehicles were seen parked on side streets, staging up. So, unlike most campaigns, a change in behaviour is the real win. It doesn’t have to be about the number of tags and tows, which is usually the indicator of a campaign - we grab numbers at the end but, as this goes forward, it will be the change in behaviour as people look for alternatives to their usual routines,” said Sergeant Brett Moore, of Traffic Services.
As officers found, it was folks dropping off people to work, running in for a quick coffee or picking something up from stores, who were causing traffic disruptions.
Jeremy Swampillai, who ran out to his car just before it was towed, was handed a $150 ticket.
“I get it, I understand why they enforce zero tolerance, I hate being blocked in traffic too,” said Swampillai, who was dropping off his child into daycare. “It was a hectic day…but yeah I get it, I get it.”
Vojim, a delivery man dropping off medicines for a pharmacy, was also saved from having his truck towed away as he came running out. He, too, was aware that he had parked illegally on a rush-hour route.
“It’s kind of hard to find a parking spot for deliveries, especially when you have to stop every 500 metres. It is very demanding. I don’t know, we have to come up with some solution because this way I’m going to get a ticket every day.”
He said he couldn’t deliver after rush-hour route hours as pharmacies want their medicines early in the morning for patients.
“The solution? I don’t know, I’m going to have to sit with my boss, I guess,” said Vojim.
Sergeant Moore said a two-minute stop by one vehicle can have a great impact on traffic flowing behind them.
“People are aware of what’s going on, they’re aware of what they are doing. They see it as ‘just two minutes’ but, by speaking to these folks, we are trying to let them know that two minutes affects traffic and messes other people’s days up,” said Moore.
Strict enforcement will continue along rush-hour routes.