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HOT TOPIC Canada, U.S. still losing billions to highway congestion

ARLINGTON, VA — Traffic congestion on U.S. highways added about $50 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2014, according to research released today by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).  

The congestion resulted in delays totaling more than 728 million hours of lost productivity, which equates to 264,500 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for a working year, the institute found. The analysis also demonstrates the impact of congestion costs on a per-truck basis, with an average increased cost of $26,625 for trucks that travel 150,000 miles annually. 

"Unfortunately we've come to expect traffic congestion as a part of our daily lives, but ATRI's latest analysis illustrates what a significant productivity drain that congestion is on our industry and the economy at large," said David Congdon, CEO of North Carolina-based Old Dominion Freight Line.

The problem isn’t much better north of the border. In November 2015, Canada’s EcoFiscal Commission released an analysis of congestion in some of the country’s major cities. For Vancouver, the report found that an estimated $1.4 billion is being lost annually to downtime while stuck in traffic; that number jumps to $7 billion for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, and is predicted by the commission to more than double over the next 15 years. 

Congestion pricing options continue to be the most common recommendation from firms studying the problem. 

In its report, Canada’s EcoFiscal Commission states that, “We consider approaches for Toronto, for example, that would price access to all or some lanes on the provincially owned 400-series freeways. While coordination with municipal government would be essential, the province should implement the congestion pricing policy.”

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