Written by Chris Ragan and Kevin Vuong (2015-2016 DiverseCity Fellow)
Published in The Toronto Star
We all hate traffic congestion. It sucks up one of our most precious resources — time. But traffic also imposes less tangible human costs and harms society as a whole. It’s time to confront these more human casualties of traffic — and doing so means having a serious conversation about congestion pricing.
When it comes to economic productivity, time really does equal money. Time lost in traffic jams costs Toronto’s economy roughly $7 billion per year, and that number is rising. Think of all those goods being transported by truck, stuck in traffic, disrupting delivery times and increasing firms’ need to hold inventories. The increase in business costs directly results in higher prices for consumers.
Traffic congestion is also about lost opportunity. What would we do if we weren’t stuck in traffic? Economists look at the “hidden costs” of forgone consumer spending, jobs not taken, and qualified employees not accessed. These amount to as much as $5 billion annually in the GTHA alone.
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