How live events affect traffic

There are no shortages of traffic nightmares caused by live events. Although they allow us to support our favourite artists, athletes and celebrities, the process of navigating events is usually centered around traffic and transportation. Questions like: How early should I leave? Is it worth driving or should I take public transportation? Can I beat the traffic by leaving early? Are all top of mind when attending an event and ultimately, deter the overall experience. 

Importantly, live events don’t happen in isolation. Due to their grandiose, they usually carry broader implications on the entire community. As a result, using data to understand the nuances of live events when developing traffic management plans is essential for traffic professionals to promote safe and efficient travel around live events. 

Impacts on fans

Though traffic congestion accumulates leading up to the start of an event, it’s effects are much more pronounced at the end due to the spike in attendees leaving at the same time. 

When the Rolling Stones held their one and only Canadian show in Oro-Medonte township (population of 21,000), it attracted 71,000 fans from all across Canada. Despite praises sung for the show itself, nothing positive was said about the traffic situation at the end of the concert. Fans trying to leave the arena were stuck in the parking lot for hours, with some of them stranded until four in the morning. For context, Mick Jagger took the stage at 8:45 pm.

Smaller events have also shown equal challenges with traffic and guest experience. 

When Calgary FC played at ATCO field (capacity 6,000) during the Canadian Premier league, it caused a long traffic jam on the main expressway leading to the arena. Only half of the stadium was present when Calgary made history by scoring their first goal within 26 minutes. Fans stuck in traffic didn’t make it to the game until the second half was well underway. This not only hurt fans’ spirits but would presumably have taken a toll on the sales for the businesses inside the arena as most people buy, food, drinks and merchandise before the game or during the half time break. 

Impacts on Community

When a live event occurs, the surge of people coming to and from the event disrupt local residents, impose additional stress on local transit, and cause significant frustration for day to day commuters. As of late, the impacts of live events have also come in the way of students and their education. 

Students in South Carolina were granted a half-day of school for quite a novel reason: A Beyonce and Jay-Z concert. 

Six schools surrounding the venue decided to dismiss students early, worried that if the school buses left at their normal times, they would get stuck in traffic around the stadium due to the influx of 40,000 concert goers. Even though the show’s start time was 7:30 pm, schools dismissed students as early as 11:00 am. 

As another example, people living in the City of Toronto experienced a similar disturbance during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Championship when the Toronto Raptors hosted the Golden State Warriors at the Scotiabank Arena. The game was scheduled for 9:00 pm but multiple roads in the downtown area were closed from as early as 7:00 am. People who usually drove downtown were strongly urged to find alternate modes of mobility. Due to high anticipated numbers of people in and around the stadium, street car service was also suspended at 9:00 pm. Suffice to say, that day, the general public, would’ve thought twice before heading downtown. 

How Miovision can help 

While the effects of large events extend beyond traffic, there are strategies that transportation professionals can implement to mitigate the negative impacts of congestion. Traffic Management Plans are considered the standard template to use when developing these mitigation strategies, and are extremely helpful in guiding their implementation. But, a foundation of accurate and reliable traffic data is essential to making informed decisions; it is paramount that these plans are developed on good data. Miovision offers both permanent and portable traffic data collection and analysis tools, which can be used to enhance Traffic Management Plans. To find out more, download our whitepaper and watch the Fan Experience webinar.

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