The first independent study of how transit and transportation grease the economic wheels of Metro Vancouver suggests that a “no” vote in the region’s upcoming plebiscite could wipe out up to $1.2 billion in potential benefits and even more in lost human connections. (See infographic, below.)
Clean Energy Canada and the C.D. Howe Institute collaborated on a study to calculate the full costs of congestion in the Vancouver region. The study found that gridlock stops people from getting out and doing the things they otherwise would do, and this reduces face-to-face contact and the economic benefits that come with it.
The resulting report, Tackling Traffic: The Economic Cost of Congestion in Metro Vancouver [.pdf, 315KB] tallies the costs of these missed connections, and details how the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation Proposal would alleviate them. The Institute found that, depending on assumptions, hidden costs total between $500 million and $1.2 billion a year.
This is in addition to economic and congestion cost estimates from other studies.
“Congestion hobbles the region’s economy by stifling the key benefits of urban life, such as face-to-face learning, finding better jobs, and sharing services and infrastructure,” said Ben Dachis, the study’s author.
“I also found that improved transportation generates wealth and opportunity not only by sparking the connections that drive business, but also by making the city accessible and exciting,” Dachis added.
The Institute maintained full editorial independence and control and is solely responsible for the paper’s contents.
“Cities generate connections, connections generate ideas, and ideas generate business—and smooth flowing transportation makes it all happen,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada.
“Metro Vancouver is a thriving multicultural metropolis, and needs a transit system to match,“ added Smith. “This research shows that the Mayors’ Council proposal creates financial and personal benefits that enrich everyone. Investing in transportation is good for drivers, cyclists, and transit users alike.”
Free SFU Public Event Featuring Tackling Traffic Author Ben Dachis
Tomorrow, March 10, Carbon Talks presents Transit Vote Burnaby: Congestion, Health, and Livability [Free, registration required], at Simon Fraser University. Ben Dachis will share his findings from Tackling Traffic. Meghan Winters, assistant professor with the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences will also speak to the health benefits of the Vancouver Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation proposal, while Joshua Cairns, Transit Coordinator for Sustainable SFU, will address how students can engage.
Upcoming Urban Development Institute Luncheon Featuring Ben Dachis
On March 25, the Urban Development Institute will host Yes to Transit! [paid registration required]. The business networking luncheon will feature Iain Black of the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, Benjamin Dachis of the C.D. Howe Institute, Ryan Brag of Perkins + Will, and David Podmore of Concert Properties.