March 23, 2006

Federal government releases analysis of traffic congestion

Toronto, Ontario – Transport Canada announced the findings of a study entitled The Cost of Urban Congestion in Canada. The study examined the cost of urban traffic congestion for Canada’s nine largest urban areas: Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Transport Canada commissioned the study in 2002. The study reviewed data and situations where congestion occurs daily because demand exceeds the cities’ capacity to move people and goods. It also served to examine costs due to travel delay, additional fuel consumed, and additional greenhouse gases produced.

The study found that recurrent congestion in urban areas costs Canadians between $2.3 billion and $3.7 billion per year (in 2002 dollar values.) More than 90 per cent of this cost is associated with the time lost in traffic to drivers and passengers; seven per cent occurs because of fuel consumed; and three per cent is from increased greenhouse gas emissions.

These estimates are conservative as there was insufficient data on the cost associated with non-recurrent congestion (i.e., congestion caused by random events, such as bad weather, accidents, stalled vehicles and other incidents), freight transportation, off-peak congestion, and other congestion-related costs, such as noise and stress. In addition, the study focused on the costs of greenhouse gas emissions, while there is a need to gather more data to better understand the costs of increased air pollutant emissions caused by congestion.

The study was carried out by a team of consultants comprised of Delcan, iTRANS and ADEC on behalf of Transport Canada.

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