Last year on Queen St. about 12,000 vehicles stopped illegally were issued tickets and nearly 6,000 vehicles towed and impounded.
Many more vehicles would have been towed had it not being for the lengthy period it takes for tow trucks to show up and move vehicles to a police pound.
To ease traffic congestion on busy downtown thoroughfares during rush hour periods, the Queen St. Towing Pilot launched on October 7.
Tow truck operators will removed vehicles parked in rush-hour routes and move them to nearby side streets and on the opposite side of Queen St.
“What we anticipate is that this will be a far more efficient system in terms of moving vehicles that are blocking traffic,” said Supt. Scott Baptist of Traffic Services. “We anticipate seeing improved transit times and, for the streetcars going across Queen St., we anticipate seeing more efficient movement of vehicles and other traffic.”
Normally, Toronto Police would issue a ticket to illegally parked vehicles, which are then towed to police pounds. This requires tow trucks to be ready and immediately available.
Due to overall congestion and police pounds being located outside the downtown core, towing during peak traffic periods is becoming less efficient. It can take up to 90 minutes for a tow truck to take a vehicle to a police pound and then return to the location to tow other illegally parked vehicles.
Mayor John Tory noted that the section of Queen St., where the pilot will take place, is very active during peak times.
“That is why we are here today,” he said. “We are going to try something different.”
The pilot runs from October 7 to the end of the year during peak traffic periods in the afternoon.
Tow trucks will relocate/tow vehicles that are parked along Queen St. between Fallingbrook Rd to the east and Roncesvalles Ave. to the west, to either designated side streets (Cameron St., Ryerson Ave., Michael Sweet Ave. and Stephanie St.) depending on where along Queen St. the vehicle was illegally parked or to other no-parking and open locations.
Supt. Scott Baptist of Traffic Services said vehicles will be moved to about 56 spots in the downtown core, including Queen St.
“Queen is only an afternoon rush hour for stopping on one side of the street,” he said. “It is the priority of movement of traffic on that part of Queen. So what we will be able to do is move the vehicles on the other side of the street so that traffic moving out in the west and moving east will be able to do that more efficiently.”
During the pilot period, drivers of relocated/towed vehicles on Queen St. will be issued a parking violation notice, but the towing/relocating fee will be waived. Motorists, whose cars are illegally stopped outside the pilot area on Queen St., will be issued a parking violation notice and be required to pay for the towing service at the police impound location.
Queen St. was selected for the pilot based on enforcement and towing data. The effectiveness of the pilot will be evaluated using data collected by a variety of technologies, including video cameras and Bluetooth readers. This will be supplemented by field data collected during the pilot.