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Ontario has best transportation system in Canada; British Columbia ranked the worst

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Release Date: October 22, 2008

VANCOUVER, BC- Ontario has the best transportation system in Canada while British Columbia has the worst, according to a new peer-reviewed study that compares the transportation infrastructure of the 10 Canadian provinces released today by independent research organization the Fraser Institute.

Ontario is followed closely by Nova Scotia in second spot and Quebec in third, while Saskatchewan is ranked slightly ahead of ninth-place Newfoundland and tenth-place British Columbia.

"A province's transportation system is a critical factor in fostering a positive investment climate and facilitating economic growth and prosperity," said David T. Hartgen, emeritus professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and lead author of Transportation Performance of Canadian Provinces .

"Given the importance of transportation performance to the economic health of the provinces, this study attempts to improve Canada's transportation performance by establishing baseline information that can be used to track conditions and costs over time," Prof. Hartgen said.

Hartgen's study looks at the extent, use, accessibility, cost, safety, and condition of each of different modes of transportation in each province. Two categories of transportation performance are assessed: passenger transportation (highway, transit, air, and ferry service) and freight transportation (highway, air, rail, and marine service) across the 10 provinces. A combined overall ranking on transportation performance is also calculated. A total of 23 specific measures of performance are developed for each province.

Passenger Transportation

Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec receive high ratings for their highway systems, transit systems, and air and marine transportation, with Ontario rated first or second in each of the four transportation modes studied. Nova Scotia is rated first on air passenger transportation, second on highway and sixth on urban transit and marine. Quebec is close behind and is rated first for urban transit.

British Columbia is ranked last in Canada for passenger transportation due to its high levels of congestion, long commuting times, high accident rates and the cost of its road system. BC also maintains the most costly transit system with only average per-capita transit use.

Newfoundland is ranked ninth for passenger transportation due to low per-capita transit ridership and high ferry costs.

Freight transportation

Newfoundland &Labrador has the best performance for freight transportation with top ratings for its rail and marine service. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rank second and third respectively, both scoring well on rail freight service.

British Columbia is rated fourth overall for freight transport, with high marks for its air and rail transport but is ranked seventh for marine freight transport and eighth for highways. Alberta is rated 10th for freight, primarily as a result of its poor performance on highway (truck) freight.

Hartgen points out that the ratings for the 10 provinces vary considerably by transportation mode. These differences reflect the different operating conditions for different transportation modes in the provinces. However, five provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Saskatchewan) are rated similarly on both passenger and freight transportation.

"Given that the overall transportation performance scores of many provinces are close, policy changes or changes in traffic could change results, suggesting a continuing tight contest for top honors in the future," he said.

Hartgen also notes that eastern provinces generally rate higher than western provinces. Eastern provinces typically have higher traffic levels per unit of system or service and higher levels of accessibility through more extensive networks. Generally, western provinces are less accessible and have less traffic per unit of road length (or unit of service), higher accident rates, and lower freight volumes (BC is an exception). These more than offset their generally lower costs and lower congestion.

Overall provincial transportation performance rankings

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