The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

October 22, 2008 06:00 ET

The Fraser Institute: Ontario Has Best Transportation System in Canada; BC and Newfoundland Ranked the Worst

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2008) - Ontario has the best transportation system in Canada while British Columbia and Newfoundland have 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 British Columbia and Newfoundland.

"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. The complete study, provincial rankings, and profiles of individual provinces are available at www.fraserinstitute.org.

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 on 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

Nova Scotia has the best performance for freight transportation with top ratings for rail and marine transport. New Brunswick is a close second for freight, due to its superior rail service, although it is ranked fourth for marine service.

British Columbia is rated third overall for freight transport, with high marks for its air and rail transport but is ranked seventh for marine freight transport. Newfoundland & Labrador is rated 10th for freight, the result of limited air and rail freight service.

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, seven provinces (Nova Scotia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland & Labrador) 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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Province Overall ranking Passenger ranking Freight ranking
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Ontario 1 1 4
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Nova Scotia 2 2 1
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Quebec 3 3 5
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Manitoba 4 4 8
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New Brunswick 5 5 2
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Prince Edward Island 6 6 7
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Alberta 7 7 9
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Saskatchewan 8 8 6
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British Columbia 9 10 3
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Newfoundland 10 9 10
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The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization with locations across North America and partnerships in more than 70 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

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