Vancouver once again Canada’s most traffic-congested city

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Vancouver makes a lot of lists for liveability, quality of life, whatever.

Now another list suggests you'll have plenty of time to admire the jewel of the West Coast whilst creeping along in your car.

TomTom, makers of GPS navigation systems, ranks Vancouver as the most traffic-congested city in Canada and second only to Los Angeles in North America, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The two West Coast cities also finished 1-2 last year.

The quarterly TomTom Congestion Index looked at 26 North American cities and 31 in Europe using data provided anonymously by the TomTom nav units of thousands of customers.

TomTom's index compares travel times during the most congested driving periods to times along the same routes when they're flowing freely.

Commutes in the Vancouver area, including immediate suburbs such as Burnaby, Richmond and North Vancouver but not outer suburbs such as Surrey and Maple Ridge, take 65 per cent longer during the most congested hour of the evening rush-hour period and 51 per cent longer in the morning.

The average Vancouver congestion time is 33 per cent higher than when roads are clear, and surprisingly, non-highway congestion is 41 per cent higher, compared with highways at 28 per cent, perhaps because the city has only one real freeway. A Metro Vancouver resident will tell you that had Surrey and the outer suburbs been included, the numbers would have been even worse.

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Nick Cohn, head of congestion research for TomTom, told the Sun the data showed, not surprisingly, that traffic piles up at choke points leading to the city's major bridges, he said.

The data feeds into the company's route planner,, which aims to help people plan their commutes.

"We also hope that it helps city governments understand a little bit about their relative position and see maybe over time whether their efforts to change the mobility situation in their region are really working," said Cohn.

In famously gridlocked LA, commutes take 56 per cent longer in the morning peak and 77 per cent longer in the evening rush hour, the Sun reported.

Toronto was ninth on TomTom's top 10 most-congested list. It might be little consolation to a commuter idling along the 401, but that's an improvement from third spot in the previous report. Its average congestion time was 22 per cent higher, with morning peak and evening peak times respectively 47 and 57 per cent higher.

Ottawa jumped from 15th last year to 10th, tying Toronto in average congestion and showing morning and evening peaks 55 and 75 per cent higher respectively.

Montreal's reduced congestion moved it out of the top 10, from seventh to 12th, with average congestion 20 per cent higher and morning and evening peaks at 37 and 63 per cent.

Calgary, despite its continued growth, also improved to 16th from 13th on the list. Its average congestion was 17 per cent, with morning and evening peak congestion at 17 and 22 per cent.

Edmonton jumped all the way from eighth place to 23rd, showing average congestion times only 13 per cent higher and morning and evening peaks 20 and 25 per cent.

The Alberta capital's freeways move exceptionally well, taking only one per cent longer in busy periods.

The other top-10 North American cities were Miami (third), Seattle (fourth), Tampa, Florida (fifth), San Francisco (sixth), Washington, D.C. (seventh) and Houston (eighth).

Warsaw topped the list of the most congested cities in Europe, at 42 per cent, followed by Marseille, Rome, Brussels and Paris.

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