The town experienced record traffic volumes on the August long weekend, but travel delays were down compared to 2014.
On Sunday, Aug. 2, 33,096 vehicles per day (vpd) were recorded, exceeding the previous record of 30,677 vpd set the same day in August 2014. The maximum delay recorded was 25 minutes and 18 seconds compared to 1 hour 38 minutes the year before. Saturday, Aug. 1 also saw record numbers with 30,936 vpd. Monday’s vpd count was 28,518.
Though traffic volume has increased by 10 percent so far this year over 2014, days with over 15 minutes delay are down 61 per cent. To date there has been two days with over a 30-minute delay compared to seven in the same time span in 2014.
The Town operated the greenlight override 28 times Sunday to flush out waiting traffic on Spray and Mountain avenues. However, the overrides caused inbound traffic on Bear/Lynx to back up to The Fenlands at times.
“We have been able to mitigate traffic volume and travel time delays in the north-bound corridor,” said Adrian Field, the town’s manager of engineering, “but it has a significant impact on east-west travel and on Banff Avenue pedestrians waiting to cross the road. Our roads are over capacity at these traffic volumes.”
He added that actions implemented by stakeholders are helping keep delays down, such as enhanced parking and traffic management on upper Mountain Avenue by Parks Canada and Brewster’s, and the free ride down from Tunnel Mountain on Roam Transit.
From May 1 to August 2, 2015, Banff experienced 46 days with over 20,000 vpd overall, a further 19 days with over 24,000 vpd, and six days with delays between 15 and 30 minutes. During the same period in 2014, there were 35 days over 20,000 vpd, and eight days over 24,000 vpd, with 11 days of delays between 15 and 30 minutes and seven days of delays over 30 minutes.
Pedestrians counts are equally high. Sunday volume on Banff Avenue was the highest to date for 2015 at 27,125 (both directions, west sidewalk at Caribou Street). The 2014 peak was 28,283. The town began daily pedestrian counts in July 2014.
Vehicles per day are the number of vehicles entering and exiting at both entrances to town over a 24-hour period. The town records both directions to get a sense of the volume of traffic movement, and correlates it to travel time delays to predict congestion. It is not indicative of the number of vehicles travelling through at any one time, and it doesn’t include the vehicles already in town.
Traffic volume is expected to continue to exceed 20,000 vpd through Labour Day weekend and the Town continues to encourage visitors and residents to park and walk, bike or take transit. More information and daily vehicle counts are available on banff.ca/trafficdata.