Improve Montréal’s traffic to restore prosperity

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Added on 14 May 2015 in Viewpoints

Piece by Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, published by Huffington Post Québec.

May 14, 2015

Improve Montréal’s traffic to restore prosperity

Summertime means road work. And 2015 will be a particularly active year. Turcot, Champlain, Saint-Pierre, Mercier, Bonaventure and Dorval; the southwestern portion of the island will be hit hard. The Metropolitan Expressway and the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Tunnel will soon join this list.

The fact is that we will all be holding our breath in the coming weeks. But the cynicism that often surrounds road work veils just how crucial it is to repair the city to improve our productivity and environment. If we want more quality job creation, we need more private investment. A 2012 study published by the Board of Trade revealed that the worrisome state of Montréal’s infrastructures was one of the main checks on private investment. So it is essential that we invest time and money to upgrade our road infrastructures and develop public transit.

Public transit to improve traffic

For years the Board of Trade has been arguing to increase the public transit offer as a way to reduce traffic and make travel smoother. The cost of traffic for Greater Montréal reached a record $1.8 billion in 2013.

Public transit reduces travel time for everyone, including non-users. Every public transit user means one less person on the road, making it easier to move people and merchandise.

Investing in public transit will reduce the number of cars on the road, travel costs, the amount of time it takes to get to work and stress resulting from traffic jams, and will generally improve everyone’s quality of life.

Urban mobility and intelligent transportation

But Montréal has to step up efforts both for our road infrastructures and for public transit if we truly want to increase our collective wealth and pride.

Our city has what it takes in terms of knowledge and creativity to develop an integrated approach to urban mobility and modernize its infrastructures through new technology. Our transportation infrastructures must deliver performance and be intelligent and safe, allowing us to improve the movement of people and merchandise.

Current discussions on the future governance of the agency responsible for public transit planning within metropolitan boundaries, recent announcements by the Coderre Administration about a smart and digital city and the tabling of Bill 38 to allow the Caisse de dépôt to invest in our public transit infrastructures are all excellent news.

So let’s adopt an integrated vision of transportation, choose innovative solutions to finance infrastructures, serve as an example in how we manage the work done and, while we wait for the final result, put in place solutions to mitigate the negative impact of work on traffic: coordination between levels of government, effective alternative routes, signage and communication… Let’s find order in the chaos and take this as an opportunity to excel.

The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal will hold a Strategic Forum on Urban Mobility and Intelligent Transportation on May 15.