How does traffic congestion impact us?
Traffic congestion is often associated with damaging the environment and the mental health of drivers, but it also has a major impact on the economy. In Greater Montréal alone, traffic-related absenteeism and delivery delays generate over $4 billion annually in financial losses.1 The average Montréal driver spends more than 145 hours a year in their car, stuck in traffic.
Here are three major ways traffic congestion affects our society.
La congestion routière est souvent associée aux conséquences néfastes sur l'environnement ou encore sur la santé psychologique des conducteurs. De plus, son impact majeur sur l’économie est non négligeable. Uniquement dans le Grand Montréal, les pertes financières générées par l’absentéisme et le retard des livraisons liés au trafic s’élèvent annuellement à plus de 4 milliards de dollars1. Un automobiliste montréalais passerait en moyenne plus de 145 heures par année dans sa voiture, coincé dans les embouteillages.
Voici trois répercussions de la congestion routière sur la société :
1. Recruitment challenges
Québec is currently plagued by a major labour shortage, and traffic congestion is a headache for businesses trying to hire and retain top talent. Companies in regions with a wider range of public transit services have an easier time attracting and retaining candidates.2 Similarly, recruiting staff from remote or isolated regions poses an additional challenge. For example, the white paper for renewed development of eastern Montréal, published by the Chambre de commerce de l’Est de Montréal, explains that mobility directly affects the local businesses’ ability to recruit and retain staff.
2. Environmental and health effects
In Quebec, the transport sector is the one with the highest rate of greenhouse gas emissions.3 The purchase of light-duty vehicle purchases continues to rise. In 2020, there were approximately 50,000 more vehicles registered with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) than in 2019.4 The same study also showed that light-duty trucks (this category includes SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks) are becoming increasingly popular. Their number on the road has increased by more than 260% since 1990.
3. Pressure on infrastructure and municipalities
Overwhelmed by morning and evening drivers, road infrastructure is also affected by heavy traffic. In 2020, the Québec government provided a record5 $3.2 billion to restore roads across the province. Roads, overpasses and bridges are deteriorating faster than predicted and require recurring investments.
A 2020 study by the U.S. government demonstrated that adding roads is not a long-term solution to road congestion.6 The report cited Jackson, Mississippi as a compelling example. From 1993 to 2017, the city expanded its road network by over 60% while its population grew only 9%, yet despite that, traffic soared by 317% during the same period.
Public transit as a solution
In addition to reducing traffic, public transit makes it possible to avoid traffic constraints and, in many cases, significantly reduces travel time. From an economic perspective, increasing public transit’s modal share by 3% in metropolitan regions has been shown to reduce congestion costs by over $60 million and air pollution costs by $6 million.7
By improving public transit solutions in the Greater Montréal area, new, human-scale neighbourhood developments are encouraged and designed around collective mobility. Businesses gain access to an expanded pool of workers seeking the flexibility and peace of mind provided by various public transit options, which results in workplace accessibility no longer posing a barrier to employers recruiting the best resources.
We will keep you updated on all news and developments regarding CDPQ Infra and our projects.
The case of the REM
For the REM under construction as well as for the REM de l’Est in the planning stage, these projects have been thought out in terms of the benefits they generate for society. For example, for the REM, there were approximately 34,000 jobs created during construction and 1,000 permanent jobs. The REM de l’Est on the other hand, creates new links with the east and northeast of Montreal, where there are currently 27 million square feet of vacant land with development potential, in addition to major employment poles and important revitalization projects. The project creates new opportunities for these Montreal neighborhoods.
In order to convince people to abandon their cars in favour of the REM or any other transportation network, the proposed service must be efficient, fast and reliable. This is what CDPQ Infra is betting on with its proposal for the Réseau express métropolitain.
These concrete benefits are a reminder that public transit can reduce traffic congestion in the long term while improving the overall, economic and environmental health of a country and its people.