Just How Much Did Canadian Traffic Drop in 2020?

It won't exactly come as a surprise that roads were less congested through most of 2020, but now that the year is over we have a better idea of just how much traffic changed across Canada and the world. Navigation and traffic services provider TomTom has released its 2020 traffic index showing Canadian drivers saw 91 days with traffic less than half of normal, with big drops from coast to coast.

The TomTom Traffic Index has looked at 400 cities worldwide for the last 10 years, using real-time traffic data to show how congested roads are, and when they're the worst. 2020 was, to little surprise, unprecedented and showed 387 cities where traffic was down for the year compared with 2019.

Canada's most congested city was Vancouver, according to the data, ranking 52nd in the world – an improvement from 40th in 2019. Congestion there was down nine per cent for the year, and 58 days saw "low traffic," meaning 50 per cent less congestion than the corresponding day in 2019. Congestion in January and February reached 40 per cent before falling off in April and remaining well below average the rest of the year, with that trend happening in each Canadian city.

With people staying home all across the country for most of the year, next up was Toronto, improving from its usual spot in the mid-70s to rank 168 in terms of worst traffic. 108 days showed low traffic, and overall congestion was down 11 percent. Montreal, Ottawa, and London round out the top five most congested Canadian cities, seeing 103, 134, and 64 days of low traffic respectively.

Canada's least-congested cities (of the 12 that made the list) for 2020? Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Calgary, which all saw congestion a little more than 12 percent of the time.


In international traffic, other highlights from the TomTom data include massive traffic congestion in the days before major lockdowns. Paris on October 29th saw 142 percent congestion with Athens at 123 percent on November 6th. The Netherlands saw workday traffic fall as much as 43 percent, while weekend traffic was up as high as 74 percent as drivers took the opportunity to get out more. Not all cities saw empty streets, with Kaohsiung, Taiwan, recording zero days with low traffic in the entire year.

91 days with traffic halved 1/13/2021 9:00:00 AM