So where was all the traffic?

Burrard Street on Sunday by Cult Iconic on flickr

It was a lovely weekend, but CKNW didn’t find any traffic jams to report on. This is unusual when we have a long weekend and sunshine. So they called me to ask – why?

Best guess is that gas prices have a lot to do with it. Everyone has to commute, so that trip can’t be cut, but “discretionary travel” can be. There are always closer destinations, or you might decide to get out into the yard and catch up there rather than go to Bellis Fair Mall. The border crossing at the Peace Arch has construction work going on so there were only half the lanes available, and CBC were warning about that on Friday. But the ferries were not overloaded either.

Americans are coming here in fewer numbers, partly due to the lower US dollar, the economic downturn but also increasing restrictions at the border. They tended to drive here. They are being replaced by folk from further afield – China and Europe – who are less likely to drive when they get here.

Will we get used to higher gas prices and go back to driving? Only if incomes rise, something else gets cheaper or we decide to give up something else. Britain has much higher pump prices than we do – and has done for many years – but they still have chaos on the roads every bank holiday weekend. But the adjustment process is not going to be easy, and it doesn’t help that we have so few alternatives. Overcrowded transit and no trains off peak or at weekends on West Coast Express for instance.

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