QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 11, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - A study commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has provided an unsettling assessment of traffic flow in every province. Among the findings: millions of hours lost, commute times lengthened by up to 50%, tens of millions of litres of gas burned unnecessarily... and losses totalling near $300 million a year.
Titled Grinding to a Halt: Evaluating Canada's Worst Bottlenecks, the study was conducted for CAA and its nine member clubs by the firm CPCS, which specializes in transportation issues. It looked at the 20 busiest stretches of road in the country, from Vancouver to Halifax.
Montreal and Quebec City are excessively well represented
While Toronto's first-place "win" comes as no surprise, given the city's strong demographic concentration—highways 401 and 404 occupy first and second place respectively—the results for Montreal and Quebec City provide much food for thought. Quebec's largest city is home to 5 of the 20 worst bottlenecks in the country according to the study, and in the provincial capital, one stretch of road ranks 17th, making it the only medium-sized urban area in the "top" 20.
Montreal makes the list five times
The stretch of Autoroute 40 between Pie-IX Boulevard and Highway 520 (Côte-de-Liesse) in Montreal was ranked the 3rd-worst in the country, followed closely by the portion of Autoroute 15 (Décarie) between Autoroute 40 and Chemin de la Côte-Saint-Luc, which came in 5th. Unfortunately, three other bottlenecks rank 8th, 14th and 16th nationally, rounding out Montreal's "impressive" showing on the list. The annual costs of the five bottlenecks are estimated as follows:
- More than 3 million hours lost due to late arrivals;
- $75 million worth of hours lost;
- 7 million litres of excess fuel consumed.
Although the Montreal arteries on the list finished behind those in Toronto, average travel speeds on them are slower: in other words, it takes Montrealers longer to drive similar distances. "Although motorists seemingly put up with these daily woes, our cities' strong showing on this list is a reminder of how important it is to tackle this issue," notes Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs. "CAA-Quebec repeats: sound governance in Montreal is essential to long-term transportation planning." She continues: "The creation of the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain, which among other things will be tasked with prescribing management standards for the metropolitan arterial system, is certainly a step in the right direction where mass transit is concerned. Ultimately, though, the responsible authorities have a duty to continue their efforts to facilitate commuter travel and in this way prevent this productivity loss associated with traffic congestion."
Only one Quebec City road on the list, but…
The stretch of Autoroute 73 between Chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois and Avenue Dalquier (the Versant-Nord/Chemin Sainte-Foy exit) earned Quebec City the "distinction" of being the only medium-sized urban area in Canada mentioned in the study. For motorists in the capital city region, this bottleneck represents:
- Near 80,000 lost hours due to late arrivals;
- $1.8 million in hours lost;
- 1 million litres of excess fuel consumed.
This highlights the importance of widening Autoroute 73 in Quebec City, which is among the projects under study in the 2016–2026 Quebec Infrastructure Plan and is an essential measure eagerly awaited by the public. "If there was any lingering doubt as to the need for that project, our study has eloquently removed it," Ms. Gagnon emphasizes. "And given that this sector is not really served by public transit, which cannot fill every need anyway, motorists are naturally entitled to expect road- capacity improvements that will help them engage in their economic activities productively."
CAA-Quebec forwards study results to authorities
The conclusions of the study have been forwarded to the relevant municipal and provincial authorities. "Motorists pay more than $3 billion every year in various kinds of taxes," Ms. Gagnon concludes. "CAA-Quebec believes it is of paramount importance to properly structure the movement of people and goods, anticipating long-term needs while not ignoring the potential of public transit as part of the equation. At the end of the day, it's not extravagant projects that matter, but efficiency. And that's also what enables us to say that taxpayer money is being well managed."
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization, provides all of its members with peace of mind by offering them high-quality automotive, travel, residential and insurance benefits, products and services.
For further information: Montréal: Annie Gauthier, Communications Advisor and Spokesperson, 514 861-7111, ext. 6260, Cell.: 514 717-4040, [email protected]; Quebec City: Philippe St-Pierre, Director, Public Affairs, 418 624-2424, ext. 2418, Cell. : 418-580-1633, [email protected]