We're coughing up billions over traffic congestion

The Canadian Press
TORONTO (Mar 23, 2006)

 Worsening urban congestion is costing Canadians billions of dollars a year -- mainly in wasted time, according to a new Transport Canada study.


And that cost is expected to compound with a growing population, more cars on the road, and the urbanization of towns.


The study -- which included Hamilton -- is the first national analysis of congestion and estimates the cost of bad traffic in Canada's nine biggest cities at between $2.3 billion and $3.7 billion a year.


More than 90 per cent of the waste is the value of time lost in traffic, 7 per cent is the cost of fuel consumption, and 3 per cent is associated with increased greenhouse gas emissions.


"The results show how costly congestion is, but they also show just how much more we need to do to understand it," said Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.


"And let's be honest, we all contribute to this problem," he said.

"We drive to the video store when we could walk. We drive to work when we could take public transit. We even drive to the gym when we know we should bike. So we all need to be part of the solution."


Not only does heavy traffic waste time, congestion on the roads is especially damaging to the environment and adds to gas bills because a vehicle travelling at 20 km/h operates less efficiently and spews more pollution than when it is moving at 60 km/h, the report states.


And as expensive as today's driving conditions are, they are likely to get worse.


With the national population expected to rise by .75 per cent annually until 2020, car ownership growing at a greater rate, and urbanization changing the landscape of the country, congestion is projected to get increasingly heavy.


Growing congestion doesn't necessarily mean a need for more roads, said Cannon. But it does point to the key role of public transit, he added, noting that his department has already committed $1.5 billion to transit improvements in the GTA.



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