Guess Canada is just behind these United States of America as far as the ills of traffic are concerned. This story about Toronto from thestar.com [image from there]
Whatever the appeal of the car may be, mobility has little to do with it.
The truth of this lies not just in the extreme congestion and epic commutes documented this week by Star correspondents, but as they also made clear, in our mind-boggling capacity to put up with it.
That's why efforts to control car use are doomed to failure as long as they're based on attempts to replace it with alternate forms of transportation, especially public transit.
As far as trying benign methods to improve the situation, author Christopher Hume is not too sanguine; this should be noted by opponents of congestion pricing in New York:
That's why cities that have succeeded in prying people out of their automobiles are those that have resorted to tough measures.
London, Stockholm and Singapore introduced congestion fees that force drivers to pay large sums for the privilege of taking their cars downtown. Even then, the decline in traffic has been no more than 22 or 23 per cent. This isn't huge, but it's enough to take some pressure off commuters. And although locals hated the prospect at first, in time they learned to love the results.
As he also notes, transportation choices that people make are not rational, so even if public transit is easy, cheap and clean, weaning commuters from cars may not work.
Rationality alone cannot explain why these commuters are prepared to spend hours and hours getting to and from work. Or why they tolerate the frustration, tedium and stress, not to mention risk.
The article ends with "Even in Toronto, it's becoming painfully clear that either we kill the commute, or it will kill us."