What costs $3 billion a year and has no end it sight? The answer:
traffic congestion in Canada’s cities.
The nine largest cities in Canada are the subjects of the first study
of its kind by team of consultants hired by the government. The goal was to
find out how much traffic congestion costs in terms of time, fuel and the
environment, according to Transport Canada, which is the Canadian equivalent to
the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Lost time by drivers and passengers represented the largest cost,
accounting for 90 percent of the expense of congestion and traffic jams on a
daily basis. That cost corresponds to the times of day when the cause of
congestion is mainly the fact that motorists’ demands exceed the capacity of
The cost of weather, accidents and other occasional causes of congestion
were not directly studied in this particular effort.
The studying group consisted of three groups: Delcan, iTRANS and ADEC
on behalf of Transport Canada. They studied traffic in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
“It is especially difficult to draw accurate comparisons among the
cities studied,” according to a Transport Canada statement. “Understanding
congestion and how to measure it is an important area for future research and
collaboration among different levels of government.”
The study group said the solution to congestion does not simply mean
building more roads. Instead, cities’ long-term urban planning should include
mass transit and other alternatives to driving.
Once in a while, congestion causes governments to look at issues, like
the Toronto City Council did with a proposal to ban truck deliveries from the
downtown core during rush hour. That measure failed, but governments continue
to try to reduce congestion.