Public Values

Highway expansion doesn't solve congestion

Montreal Board of Trade sold on public transit in contrast with new pro-car mayor of Toronto.

The Don Valley Parkway in Toronto is the tenth most congested freeway in North America.While Canada's biggest city swears in a controversial pro-car mayor, new evidence shows that more cars and highways don't help commuters. A new study indicates that three of the ten busiest highways in North America are located in Canada's two largest cities. The American traffic data firm NAVTEQ put highways 15 and 138 in Montreal among the top five congested freeways in and Toronto's Don Valley Parkway in tenth place.

The problem will only get worse unless drivers get viable alternatives, says a leading transportation analyst. "We've always had good transit systems [but] I don't think we've maintained the level of investment needed," Transport Action Canada president David Jeanes told CNews.

While politicians like Toronto's new mayor Rob Ford think highway expansion is the answer, Jeanes says the option simply hasn't worked. "If you look at Highway 401 across the north of Toronto, they just kept adding lanes to that highway and the congestion never got any better. You really can't build your way out of congestion because the additional road capacity actually attracts more cars."

Meanwhile, the new Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal study titled Public transit: At the heart of Montreal's economic development, gave a hearty endorsement to public transit, as reported in the Montreal Gazette on November 27.

The Board's study reported on some startling numbers:
$1.4 billion: The annual cost of traffic congestion in the Montreal area, including lost productivity and car operating costs and gas.
7th: Montreal's place on a 42-city list based on the cost of traffic as a percentage of gross domestic product. Cities with higher costs were LA, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, Tampa, San Diego.
1.4 million: Number of daily trips on public transit in the Montreal region.
5.4 million: Number of daily trips in cars in the Montreal region, one-quarter of them during morning rush hour.

Links and sources
  The Board of Trade study is available, in French

Posted: December 07, 2010

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