January 11, 2011

It’s not your imagination, Toronto area commuters

Filed under: Cancon, Economics — Tags: — Nicholas @ 13:00

Canadians often have a disturbing eagerness to see themselves coming out atop various world rankings. Let a UN agency or a big NGO list Canada in the top five of any kind of list and they practically declare a national day of celebration . . . it’s kinda pathetic, actually.

Andrew Coyne finds a list that nobody in Canada will find as a source of national pride:

Indeed, for sheer mind-numbing, soul-destroying aggravation, traffic in our largest cities can compete with any in the developed world. A Toronto Board of Trade report earlier this year looked at commuting times in 19 major European and North American cities. Toronto’s ranking? Dead last: worse than New York or London, worse than Los Angeles. But other Canadian cities were scarcely better. Montreal was 18th, Vancouver 14th, Calgary 13th, Halifax 10th.

So, what’s the answer? Ban private vehicles and load everybody into mass transit? If anything would turn Canadians away from their “peace loving” self-image, that might well do it. Canadians love their cars as much as any other western country and more than most. There’s also the fact that for most commuters, taking public transit would increase, not decrease their commuting time.

The reason is simple: it’s quicker by car. As bad as the commute is for drivers, it’s much worse for public transit users: 106 minutes, versus 63 minutes by car. Granted, part of the reason it takes so long to get anywhere by transit is because of all the cars blocking the way. But you’d have to persuade an awful lot of those drivers to give up the comfort and convenience of their cars to put much of a dent in that. And they’d still take longer to get to work even then.

So, what’s the answer? Toll roads.

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