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Congestion forcing people to change driving habits: expert

Traffic outside Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain Station. (iStock Photo)

A transportation expert says congestion is an even bigger factor affecting our habits behind the wheel

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – We heard earlier this week that a huge majority of British Columbians feel the high price of gas is negatively affecting their daily lives.

But as it turns out, a transportation expert believes there’s something having an even bigger impact on our habits behind the wheel — and that’s congestion.

Gordon Price, a fellow with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue, says whether or not people choose more fuel efficient vehicles or other forms of transportation, there’s only a given amount of room on the road.

“…And it doesn’t matter whether the vehicle is electric or automated, it doesn’t matter,” he says, and suggests that is the biggest driver of people’s habits and choices on the road.

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“It’s still going to take up the same amount of physical space. And so if we want to keep what we think of as a liveable community or the costs of congestion down, while it’s not separate, is still a far more significant factor than the price of gas.”

Price says it’s a significant factor if we want to keep our livable communities, more so than the fluctuating price at the pump.

That said, he says people have already been opting for more fuel efficient vehicles as the price at the pump has been rising steadily. “And certainly hybrid cars, electrification, dropping down that component of the gas price, that’s happening already.”

However, while he does believe congestion trumps what you pay at the pump, Price admits there is a tipping point.

“It’s having to have a second car, maybe having to have a third. The Canadian Automobile Association estimates the average cost for a Canadian, all things in, is about $10,000.”