GTA Cordon Count Program

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1 Transportation Trends Executive Summary Project No. TR September 2013

2 1.0 Introduction The Cordon Count program was established to collect traffic data as a tool for measuring travel trends and patterns to inform decision making of infrastructure planning in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Cordon Count program was initiated by the City of Toronto in 1975 with the surrounding regional municipalities following suit in the early to mid 1980s. The Cordon Count program collects traffic data classified by vehicle type and occupancy including the following: passenger cars by occupants, GO Bus, GO Rail, taxis, bus, subways, streetcars, cyclists and pedestrians. Truck volumes and classifications are also collected to enable tracking of trends in goods movements within the GTA. The Cordon Counts are undertaken on weekdays (excluding Fridays) during May and early June before the end of the school year. The data represents a typical weekday. The Cordon Count program, which has been conducted regularly across the GTA since the late 1980s, is an invaluable source of historic data that allows transportation trends to be identified and analyzed. The Cordon Count data is used to aid the municipalities in the follow activities: Transport model calibration; Capital works needs and programming; Traffic forecasting; Noise studies; Travel delay calculations; Transit usage; Auto occupancy; Rate of travel demand across screenlines; Development charges studies; Transportation master plans; Regional and local traffic impact studies; Environmental assessments; Regional cycling plans; Monitor goods movement (No. and Type of commercial vehicles). Counting stations are located at key travel locations within the GTA. Stations are used to form screenlines. A screenline is an imaginary line spanning a major element of the transportation network (roads and railways), regional boundary, municipal boundary or natural boundary (a watercourse or river). Screenlines in this analysis have been established across key travel locations in the GTA and the regional boundaries of City of Toronto and Regions of Durham, York, Peel and Halton as shown in Figure 1 1. The Cordon Count data is used to aid the municipalities in the follow activities: Transport model calibration Capital works needs and programming Traffic forecasting Noise studies Travel delay calculations Transit usage Auto occupancy Rate of travel demand across screenlines Development charges studies Transportation master plans Regional and local traffic impact studies Environmental assessments Regional cycling plans Monitor goods movement (number and type of commercial vehicles) TR (September 2013) Page 1

3 Figure 1 1: Screenlines Included in the Cordon Count Analysis TR (September 2013) Page 2

4 2.0 Overall Trends Total Person Trips The majority of the screenlines that experience the greatest growth in total person trips are located in the regional municipalities to the north and west of Toronto. These areas in Halton, Peel and York have experienced significant growth in residential and employment development over the last 10 years. The change in total person trips from 2001 to 2011 is displayed graphically in Figure 2 1. The screenlines that experience the highest growth in total person trips between 2001 and 2011 are shown below: Toronto Central Area Cordon +303,794 Toronto York Boundary +294,252 Toronto Peel Boundary +196,966 Peel Halton Boundary +144,613 Mississauga Brampton +97,631 The screenlines that experienced the highest growth in peak period person trips between 2001 and 2011 include: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period Toronto York Boundary +48,687 Toronto York Boundary +61,554 Toronto Central Area Cordon +35,816 Toronto Peel Boundary +45,589 Toronto Peel Boundary +20,079 Peel Halton Boundary +20,406 Peel Halton Boundary +19,744 Halton Highway 401 (South) +15,589 Halton Highway 401 (South) +15,874 Durham Taunton Road +12,467 Across all of the screenlines included in the analysis, the afternoon peak period peak direction person trips are 7% higher than the morning peak period trips. The growth exhibited from 2001 to 2011 across the screenlines in total person trips can be attributed to residential and employment growth throughout the GTA. However, there are five screenlines Durham Regional Road 23, York Durham Boundary, York Peel Boundary, York North, GTA East and Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) which experienced a decrease in vehicle trips from 2006 to This reduced demand likely reflects the lingering effects of the world economic crisis in The screenlines exhibiting higher growth trends can generally be correlated to areas with higher population growth, as shown in Figure 2 2, which indicate the highest population growth in York, Peel and Halton Regions. TR (September 2013) Page 3

5 Figure 2 1: 2001 to 2011 Change in Total Person Trips Figure 2 2: Population Growth 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Durham York Peel Halton Toronto TR (September 2013) Page 4

6 3.0 Auto Occupancy and High Occupancy Vehicles Auto Occupancy In 2011, the five screenlines with the highest auto occupancy during the peak periods (in the respective peak directions) are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period Halton Highway 401 (South) 1.20 Toronto Central Area Cordon 1.22 Durham Taunton Road 1.15 Durham Taunton Road 1.20 Toronto Central Area Cordon 1.14 Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) 1.18 Peel North 1.14 Mississauga Brampton 1.17 Toronto York Boundary 1.12 Toronto York Boundary 1.17 With the exception of the Halton Highway 401 screenline, there has been little change in overall auto occupancy rates in the GTA over the past 10 years. Figure 3 1 and Figure 3 2 illustrate the auto occupancy trends for the morning and afternoon peak periods. Figure 3 1: Morning Peak Period Auto Occupancy by Screenline Auto Occupancy Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon TR (September 2013) Page 5

7 Figure 3 2: Afternoon Peak Period Auto Occupancy by Screenline Auto Occupancy Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon Across the GTA, the average auto occupancy in the morning period changed from 1.11 in 2001 to 1.10 in For the afternoon period, the average auto occupancy changed from 1.17 in 2001 to 1.15 in Auto occupancy rates, on average, are higher in the afternoon period than the morning period as the afternoon period comprises more trip purposes which are associated with higher auto occupancy such as shopping, recreation and facilitating passengers. The freeway network is at the spine of the GTA roadway network. A number of Cordon Count stations are located on the 400 series highways, Queen Elizabeth Way, Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. The average auto occupancy on the freeway network is lower than the average for the system as a whole. The average auto occupancy in the peak direction for all screenlines in the morning period is 1.10, while the average auto occupancy on the freeway stations is Similarly, the average auto occupancy in the peak direction for all screenlines in the afternoon period is 1.15, while the average auto occupancy on the freeway stations is High Occupancy Vehicles The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) defines a high occupancy vehicle as a passenger vehicle carrying two or more persons, referred to as HOV2+ vehicles in this study. Taxis have been included in the HOV2+ data extraction as the MTO permits taxis to use HOV lanes on Provincial facilities. Over the 10 year period, the growth in HOV2+ vehicles has kept pace with the growth in overall auto travel with HOV2+ vehicles accounting for 11% of morning peak period auto travel and 15% of afternoon peak period travel in 2001 and in TR (September 2013) Page 6

8 The five screenlines with the highest percentage of HOV2+ vehicles in 2011 during the peak periods (in the peak direction) are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period Toronto Central Area Cordon 19% Toronto Central Area Cordon 26% Halton Highway 401 (South) 16% Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) 19% Durham Taunton Road 14% GTA East 18% Peel North 13% Durham Taunton Road 18% Toronto Peel Boundary 12% Toronto Peel Boundary 17% Although the average occupancy has decreased, the proportion of HOV2+ vehicles overall has been stable as shown in Figure 3 3 and Figure 3 4. This indicates a shift in vehicles with 3 or more occupants to vehicles with only 2 occupants, resulting in an overall decrease in average occupancy. Figure 3 3: Morning Peak Period Proportion of HOV2+ by Screenline 25% Proportion of HOV2+ 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Toronto - Durham Boundary Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Figure 3 4: Afternoon Peak Period Proportion of HOV2+ by Screenline Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon 30% Proportion of HOV2+ 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Toronto - Durham Boundary Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon TR (September 2013) Page 7

9 4.0 Mode of Transportation Each travel mode has experienced significant levels of growth in trips from 2001 to 2011, which is reflective of the growth in population over that time period. In general, the mode shares have not changed significantly from 2001 to While there was a significant growth in auto (+18%) and GO Rail (+17%) trips from 2001 to 2006, growth in the most recent 5 year period from 2006 to 2011 was only 6% for auto and 6% for GO Rail trips, which is less than the rate of population growth. Table 4 1: Morning Peak Period Growth by Mode Mode to to 2011 Auto Driver 1,110,240 1,315,003 1,395,682 6% 26% Auto Passenger 124, , ,530 11% 23% GO Bus 11,180 11,887 9,763 18% 13% GO Rail 123, , ,248 6% 24% School Bus 30,020 37,326 42,479 14% 42% Other Transit 245, , ,541 10% 17% Total 1,644,557 1,906,576 2,040,243 7% 24% The dominant mode of travel in the morning commute period (both directions) is the automobile. The Auto Driver mode grew by 26% and the Auto Passenger mode grew by 23% between 2001 and The automobile has an average mode share of 76% across all Cordon Count screenlines in the morning peak period. Table 4 2: Morning Peak Period Mode Share Mode Auto Driver 67% 69% 68% Auto Passenger 8% 7% 8% GO Bus 1% 1% 1% GO Rail 7% 7% 7% School Bus 2% 2% 2% Other Transit 15% 14% 14% Total 100% 100% 100% The mode share of auto drivers and auto passengers in the suburban screenlines are significantly greater than those recorded at the Toronto Central Area Cordon as shown in Figure 4 1. This reflects the availability of other modes of transport, density of development and proximity to the central business district and major employment areas in the central area. TR (September 2013) Page 8

10 Figure 4 1: 2011 Mode Share (AM Peak Period) 100% Mode Share 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% GTA Peel York Durham Halton Toronto 30% 20% 10% 0% Auto Driver Auto Passenger GO Bus GO Rail School Bus Other Transit Mode TR (September 2013) Page 9

11 5.0 Transit Transit trends were also assessed in the study. However, given the locations of the screenlines at municipal and regional boundaries, a high proportion of transit users are not captured in the Cordon Count program. The predominant transit services at the screenlines are operated by Metrolinx / GO Transit. Where data permits, three categories of transit GO Rail, GO Bus and other transit (local transit, other inter regional transit, etc.) have been assessed. The focus of the transit trends is the morning and afternoon peak periods. GO Rail The GO Lakeshore East and Lakeshore West Lines carry the highest volume of passengers, thus the highest growth where these GO Lines cross the screenlines. Expansions to the GO Rail network include service to the north and northeast areas (extension of service to Barrie in 2007, extension of service to Lincolnville in 2008) resulted in high percentage growth at the York North, South York Cordon and Toronto York boundary during the morning peak period. Similar patterns of growth were observed in the afternoon peak period. For GO Rail, almost all screenlines have shown an increase in load to capacity ratios between 2001 and Ridership has been growing steadily and, even with associated increases in capacity, utilization has increased by about 5% in the morning peak period and stayed the same in the afternoon peak period. Overall, GO Rail ridership between 2001 and 2011 has increased by 23% in the morning peak period and by 38% in the afternoon peak period. Screenlines with the highest 10 year growth in GO Rail passengers in the peak periods (in the peak direction) are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period Toronto York Boundary +8,674 Toronto York Boundary +9,157 Toronto Central Area Cordon +7,186 Toronto Peel Boundary +5,561 Peel Halton Boundary +2,680 Toronto Central Area Cordon +5,472 Toronto Peel Boundary +2,212 Toronto Durham Boundary +5,389 Toronto Durham Boundary +1,738 Peel Halton Boundary +4,761 The extension of the GO Rail network to the outskirts of the GTA has increased total transit ridership, with the greatest ridership growth at the outer suburban screenlines. With GO Rail travel predominantly to Downtown Toronto, the growth in ridership has also been captured on the Toronto Central Area Cordon screenline. TR (September 2013) Page 10

12 Other Transit 1 The Toronto York Boundary screenline has shown the highest increase in other transit trips over the 10 year period. This growth can be primarily attributed to the implementation of York Region s Viva transit service beginning in Screenlines with the highest 10 year growth in Other Transit passengers in the peak periods are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period Toronto York Boundary +6,560 Toronto York Boundary +9,430 Toronto Central Area Cordon +5,568 Mississauga Brampton +2,470 Toronto Peel Boundary +2,698 Toronto Peel Boundary +1,853 Mississauga Brampton +1,184 South York Cordon +742 Durham Taunton Road +903 Durham Taunton Road +703 The highest growth in Other Transit occurred closer to the centre of the GTA with the top three screenlines in the morning peak period in Toronto or on the Toronto boundaries. The highest increase in transit trips over the 10 year period was observed on the Toronto York Boundary which can be primarily attributed to the implementation of York Region s Viva transit service beginning in Some of the decline in Other Transit usage can be attributed to the expansion of the GO Rail system, namely at the York North and GTA West screenlines. 1 Other transit consists of all bus, coach bus, subway and streetcar services excluding GO Rail, GO Bus, and school bus. TR (September 2013) Page 11

13 6.0 Commercial Traffic The impact of commercial traffic on roads is a significant factor in transportation planning. In this analysis, medium trucks, heavy trucks and tractor trailers are considered commercial vehicles. Smaller vehicles such as passenger cars, vans or light trucks that may be used for commercial purposes are not included in this summary as it is not possible to fully differentiate commercial usage in these categories in the data collected. Over the 5 and 10 year period, overall commercial traffic has grown by 9% and 14%, respectively. The overall percentage of trucks in total traffic has shown a small decrease from 7.8% in 2001 to 7.1% in The trends in commercial trucking traffic by screenline are illustrated in Figure 6 1. The strong commercial trucking component in the west part of the GTA that has been observed in the past has continued in The screenlines with the highest increase in truck volumes between 2001 and 2011 are: GTA West +10,901 Peel Halton Boundary +9,961 South York Cordon +9,314 Toronto York Boundary +8,514 York Peel Boundary +6,339 Figure 6 1: Daily (13 hour) Commercial Traffic by Screenline Truck Volumes (Thousands) Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Toronto - Durham Boundary Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - York Boundary Central Area Cordon Toronto - Peel Boundary TR (September 2013) Page 12

14 The screenlines with the highest and lowest truck percentages are shown below. The trends in truck percentages are similar to that of 2006, where screenlines with high truck percentages have remained high (4 of the top 5 screenlines were also top 5 screenlines in 2006) and screenlines with low truck percentages have remained low (again 4 of the 5 lowest screenlines were also lowest screenlines in 2006). Highest Truck Percentage Lowest Truck Percentage GTA East 14% Central Area Cordon 3% GTA West 13% Toronto York Boundary 5% York Peel Boundary 13% Durham Taunton Road 5% York Durham Boundary 11% Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) 6% Peel Halton Boundary 10% Halton Highway 401 (South) 7% The trends indicate that commercial traffic has essentially been growing on par with total traffic over the 10 year period. It is important to note that a significant proportion of commercial vehicle activity occurs outside of the Cordon Count program s daytime count period, i.e. evening and overnight, which are not included in the above analysis. The growth in truck volumes are consistent throughout the day, with approximately 45% of the truck growth occurring in the combined morning and afternoon peak periods, which represent 46% of the total count period (6 of the 13 hours). TR (September 2013) Page 13

15 7.0 Peak Period Characteristics With the population of the GTA continually growing, the transportation network is under increasing pressure to accommodate with the demand placed upon it during the morning and afternoon peak periods. Commuters are known to adjust their travel behaviour to take account of congested conditions by starting their trip in the shoulders of the peak periods (i.e. peak spreading). Screenlines with a higher proportion of peak period trips indicate a strong commuting pattern with comparatively less midday, non commute trips. The screenlines with the highest proportion of peak period to all day (13 hour) trips in 2011 are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period York Durham Boundary 29.7% York Durham Boundary 34.0% Brampton Caledon 27.7% Peel North 31.4% York Peel Boundary 27.5% Halton Highway % Peel Halton Boundary 27.0% York Peel Boundary 30.5% Halton Highway % Durham Taunton Road 30.2% Overall, traffic volumes are higher in the afternoon peak period than morning peak period which reflects the combination of commuter s return travel home plus the addition of discretionary trips for shopping, errands, and other purposes. The proportion of peak period to total period counts over the past 5 years have not changed significantly, from 25.5% to 25.9% in the morning and from 28.1% to 29.1% in the afternoon, indicating that growth in peak period travel has generally kept pace with the growth in total travel. Figure 7 1 and Figure 7 2 illustrate the trends in peak period travel by screenline. In each of the morning and afternoon peak periods, about half of the screenlines have shown a small decrease in the peak period proportion of total counts. At these screenlines, peak spreading is observed as midday growth is outpacing peak period growth. TR (September 2013) Page 14

16 Figure 7 1: Morning Peak Period Proportion of Total Period by Screenline 40% 35% Proportion of AM Period to Total Period (13-hour) 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon Figure 7 2: Afternoon Peak Period Proportion of Total Period by Screenline 40% 35% Proportion of PM Period to Total Period (13-hour) 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Durham - Taunton Road Durham - Regional Road 23 GTA East York - Durham Boundary York - Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel - Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga - Brampton Brampton - Caledon GTA West Halton - Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto - York Boundary Toronto - Peel Boundary Toronto Central Area Cordon TR (September 2013) Page 15

17 8.0 Directional Split The directional split is used to identify the tidality of the traffic flow across a screenline. A directional split on a roadway or screenline close to 50% indicates that the traffic volumes are evenly balanced in both directions. Where the peak directional split is up over 60%, this would start to suggest that the screenline experiences some tidality in its traffic flow. In general, for a metropolitan area such as the GTA, there is a strong commuter flow towards the downtown central area in the morning peak period and the reverse in the afternoon peak period. However, as major employment centres have developed in York and Peel Regions, directional split has been approaching 50% on some routes in the peak periods. Figure 8 1 and Figure 8 2 illustrate the trends in directional split by screenline for the morning and afternoon peak periods, respectively. The screenlines which have shown the most change towards a balanced directional split (i.e. highest increase in reverse commuting) in the morning peak period are: Morning Peak Period Afternoon Peak Period GTA East 7% Brampton Caledon 9% Peel Halton Boundary 7% York Peel Boundary 7% Brampton Caledon 6% Peel Halton Boundary 6% Toronto Central Area Cordon 5% Mississauga Brampton 6% Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) 5% GTA West 5% Over the 10 year period, only a few screenlines have a higher proportion of peak directional flow. The trend in the GTA shows an increase in reverse commuting and screenlines approaching a 50% directional split. While commuting patterns still have a strong directional flow towards the central area, major employment centre are increasingly located in other areas of the GTA which has increase reverse and cross commuting patterns to York Region and Peel Region. The Toronto Peel boundary and York Peel boundary screenlines are approaching a balanced directional split. Peak directional flows are still high at the external boundaries, such as Peel North and York North, which reflects growing population in Dufferin County and Simcoe County which commutes into the GTA. TR (September 2013) Page 16

18 Figure 8 1: Morning Peak Period Peak Direction Split 80% % Peak Direction Split 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Durham-Taunton Road Durham-Regional Road 23 GTA East York-Durham Boundary York-Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel-Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga-Brampton Halton-Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto-York Boundary Toronto-Peel Boundary Central Area Cordon GTA West Brampton- Caledon Figure 8 2: Afternoon Peak Period Peak Direction Split 80% % 60% Peak Direction Split 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Durham-Taunton Road Durham-Regional Road 23 GTA East York-Durham Boundary York-Peel Boundary York North South York Cordon Peel-Halton Boundary Peel North Mississauga-Brampton Halton-Highway 401 (South) Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) Toronto - Durham Boundary Toronto-York Boundary Toronto-Peel Boundary Central Area Cordon GTA West Brampton- Caledon TR (September 2013) Page 17

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