Transportation in Canada 2011

Road Transportation

One million kilometres of roads. Challenges unique to Canada. Balancing the need to invest with the realities of fiscal constraints. 2007–2011 saw a variety of steps taken to support Canada's competitiveness in a global economy—and to make its roads safer for all Canadians.

9.1 Overview of Road Transportation

Canada has more than a million kilometres of (two-lane equivalent) roads, roughly 38,000 of which make up the National Highway System ( NHS ). Please see Addendum Table RO1 for more information. Road transportation is the most important mode for passenger and freight transportation, local (intra-city) and intercity transportation, intra-provincial transportation activities, and trade between Canada and the United States (in terms of value transported).

Canada's road network is shared by a wealth of different users, including 20 million light vehicles, 750,000 medium and heavy trucks, 15,000 public transit buses, motorcoaches and motorcycles in addition to pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers (see tables RO3, RO4, RO5, RO8, RO11, and RO26).

Canada faces many challenges relating to its road transportation infrastructure. Some are unique to the country—such as its extensive land mass and often harsh climate, its high degree of urbanization, and its high level of trade dependency—and some are shared by others, including an aging road and highway infrastructure, limited finances, issues of road safety, and environmental considerations. These challenges increase pressure for more federal, provincial and municipal spending at a time when economic and financial circumstances are forcing all governments to consider new and innovative ways to fund transportation infrastructure. Given the challenges ahead—including maintaining an efficient road transportation system to support Canada's competitiveness in a global economy—the need for investment will undoubtedly continue. In coming years, however, government spending at all levels is likely to be limited given current fiscal situations and competition for funding from social sectors such as health and education.

9.2 2011 Year in Review

Economic Framework and infrastructure

  • Canadian for-hire carriers moved 225 billion tonne-kilometres of freight in 2010, up 8.1% from 2009. Roughly 139 billion tonne-kilometres (61.5%) were carried in the domestic sector and 87 in the international sector (see Table RO17).
  • By value, road continues to be the dominant mode of transportation for moving goods between Canada and the U.S. In 2011, 45.1% ($149 billion) of exports and 73.5% ($162 billion) of imports were transported between the two countries by truck, representing 56.5% of overall Canada-U.S. trade and 42.7% of all trade between Canada and the world (see Tables EC6, EC7 and EC11).
  • The total value of Canada-U.S. trade (inbound and outbound) increased more than 9%, with nearly 82% of Canadian road-based exports to the U.S passing through border crossings in Ontario and Quebec (see Table EC-10).
  • At the end of 20101 (latest available information), the NHS encompassed 38,069 kilometres of key highway linkages vital to Canada's economy and the mobility of Canadians (see Table RO1). While an expansion was approved by the Council of Ministers following a review of the NHS in 2005, the system of roadways has not grown significantly since.
  • 2009 is the most recent year for which road motor vehicle fleet information is available. For that year, the composition of the motor vehicle fleet was as follows: 19.7 million cars, light trucks and vans; and 755,000 heavy trucks (gross weight of at least 4.5 tonnes). In 2009 the light vehicle fleet generated an estimated total of 303 billion kilometres, 3.2% more than in 2008, while the heavy truck fleet was responsible for an estimated 30 billion kilometres (5% less than in 2008 due to the recession). With close to 20 million light passenger vehicles and more than 22 million licensed drivers, this leads to a ratio of more than one car per household in Canada. Tables RO3 to RO9 provide more information on Canada's motor vehicle fleet.
  • 90% of consumer expenditures on transportation go to private transportation while the remaining 10% is spent on public transportation. Vehicle purchases and expenses account for 88% of Canadian household spending on transportation (see Table EC-76).
  • More than 90% of domestic intercity travel is by car, which can be explained by the fact that most (88%) domestic intercity trips are intra-provincial and over short and medium distances.
  • 55.47 million cars and 10.54 million trucks crossed the Canada-U.S. border, an increase of 8% in car traffic from 2010 and less than a 1% increase in truck traffic. Traffic volumes as a whole were 7% higher than 2010 levels (see Tables RO19 and RO20).
  • Public transit continues to grow across the country, with new major mass-transit infrastructure projects planned in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, and active transportation is becoming more popular, due in part to the introduction of bicycle-sharing programs in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
  • In 2010, bus industry revenues (including government contributions) were estimated at $14.3 billion, a 4.6% increase from the previous year. The public transit sector accounted for 52.5% of total bus industry revenues, excluding government contributions (see Table RO21).
  • The provinces continued to respond to a 2010 federal/provincial/territorial task force report recommending that jurisdictions relax the regulatory controls on intercity carriers.
    • In Manitoba, an agreement to subsidize Greyhound services was extended until March 31, 2012. The subsidy is for $3.12 million for fiscal year 2010–11 and $3.9 million for fiscal year 2011–12.
    • For its part, Alberta deregulated intercity bus service on October 1, 2011.
    • Several other provinces are evaluating their options, while service abandonments2 continue to be moderate. Greyhound, the major carrier, abandoned 12 low-density corridors and reduced service frequency in others, but early indications of possible replacement services emerging were positive.
  • In December 2011, Acadian bus services in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were halted by a strike, and Groupe Orléans (owner of Acadian) announced that its French parent Kéolis had acquired the remaining 25% interest in the company effective December 31, 2011, making Orléans a wholly- owned subsidiary.


  • In 20093 greenhouse gas ( GHG ) emissions from road transportation were 141 Mt CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Road transportation accounted for 82.5% of domestic GHG emissions from transportation, and 19% of total Canadian emissions (see Figure EN15).
  • On-road freight accounted for 63.7 Mt CO2e , representing 37% of Canadian transportation emissions in 2008, while on-road passenger transportation accounted for 77.2 Mt CO2e , representing 45% of Canadian transportation emissions (see Figure EN16).
  • Road freight transportation's share of transportation air pollutant emissions accounted for 7% of PM 2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter) emissions, less than 1% of SOx (sulfur oxide) emissions, 20% of NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions, 3% of VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions and 2% of CO (carbon monoxide) emissions in 2009.
  • Road passenger transportation's share of 2009 transportation air pollutant emissions accounted for 2% of PM 2.5 emissions, 2% of SOx emissions, 16% of NOx emissions, 40% of VOC emissions and 55% of CO emissions.
  • Under the Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations—which are aligned with U.S. regulations—the Canadian government began regulating cars and light trucks from model years 2011 to 2016.
  • In November 2011, Environment Canada published a discussion document on the proposed regulatory approach for GHG emissions from passenger vehicles and light trucks with model years 2017 to 20254 for a 30-day comment period.


  • The Motor Vehicle Safety Act was amended in 2011 to allow used vehicles to be imported from Mexico, a change tied to a North American Free Trade Agreement commitment. The Act was also amended to allow residents of Canada to bring rental vehicles across the border from the United States into Canada for a period of 30 days or fewer for non-commercial purposes (non-Canadians were already able to bring rental vehicles into Canada).
  • The Road Safety Vision 2010 ( RSV 2010), Canada's national road safety plan, was replaced by the Road Safety Strategy 2015. With this long-term vision, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators ( CCMTA ) hopes to make Canadian roads the safest in the world. Key elements of the new strategy include adoption of a more holistic approach to road safety; establishment of a framework of best practice strategies for use by all stakeholders; and measurement of progress at the national level using the most appropriate rate-based casualty (e.g., fatalities or serious injuries) measures.
  • The United Nations has declared 2011–2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, the objective being to stabilize and then reduce the forecasted level of road traffic fatalities around the world. If current trends prevail, road fatalities will become the fifth leading cause of death in the world. Canada was one of the sponsoring countries for this initiative, which is coordinated by the World Health Organization.
  • 2011 was the Year of Road Safety in Canada, and several actions and initiatives were introduced to improve road safety and to support the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety and Canada's Road Safety Strategy 2015.


  • A number of action items in the joint Canada-U.S. Perimeter Security Declaration will involve road security elements, including the Integrated Inbound Cargo action item, which strives to streamline the movement of in-transit cargo to and from the U.S. This action item will include pilot projects led by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and supported by Transport Canada. One of these pilot projects will examine the inbound movement of goods by truck from the Port of Montreal to the U.S. border

9.3 2007–11 Recap

Economic Framework and infrastructure

A variety of transportation vehicles of different sizes and configurations use the Canadian road network, including automobiles, buses, motorcycles and trucks. Vehicles sharing the roads are used for private or commercial passenger or freight transportation activities.


For-hire trucking activity has increased, and in 20115 its real gross domestic product ( GDP ) was 6.3% higher than in 2006. Activity slowed during the economic downturn of 2008–2009 (in 2009 it was 5% lower than in 2006) but grew strongly in 2010–20116. Employment has been slow to recover: in January 2011, for-hire trucking employed 2.9% fewer workers than in January 2006.7

The decrease in for-hire trucking activity was evident in both domestic and trans-border traffic, although less severe in the trans-border sector. In 20098 the tonne-kilometres of domestic traffic was 6.3% lower than 2006, compared to a 4.4% decrease in trans- border traffic.

Intercity buses

Until 2009, the commercial intercity bus industry and the regulatory regime under which it operated appeared stable and indicated modest growth. In return for continuing service on low-density routes, the commercial intercity industry of most Canadian provinces operated under rules that protected carriers from competition in higher-density markets. Charter and tour operators were largely deregulated and operated under a different set of regulations.

In reality, however, low-density rural and small community services were catering to markets on the decline due to more people owning cars and aging populations with fewer travel needs. Bus parcel express services were a source of revenue for many routes, sometimes ensuring profitability, but these have gradually faced increasing competition from the courier industry, reducing the viability of intercity bus services to smaller communities.

In 2009, Greyhound Canada—the largest Canadian intercity carrier—informed the federal government and the provinces and territories where it operated that it was losing money on its low-density routes, and that without financial support or changes to the regulatory regime, it would not be able to maintain current service levels. In the same year, Groupe Orléans sought permission from regulators in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to reduce service on routes driven by its subsidiary, Acadian. Similar developments were observed across Canada to some extent, with the exceptions of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut.9

In response to these developments, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments established a task force on intercity bus services. A report released in September 2010 recommended that individual provinces adjust their regulatory regimes to make it easier for carriers to make service changes and for new, alternative and replacement services to enter the market.

Establishment of the task force led to bilateral discussions between carriers and provinces, even as the task force was working. In Manitoba, for example, Greyhound negotiated an agreement with the province in 2010 under which it would continue service in return for a subsidy. In several other provinces, carriers continued to work through the regulatory process.

The industry's financial position appears improved, but pressure on regulating provinces to relax controls will continue to be a major theme in Canadian bus regulation in the immediate term.

Curbside intercity bus service is a niche market in Canada and the United States. Generally, companies in this sector sell tickets on the Internet; use an airline pricing model; pick customers up at various downtown curbside locations; and provide more amenities than standard bus services (for example, reserved premium seating, Wi-Fi and snack bars). Coach Canada and MegaBus have entered this market, operating between Buffalo and Toronto and between Toronto and Montreal. To serve commuters, Ontario's GO Transit has recently expanded into intercity markets such as Kitchener, St. Catharines and Peterborough via bus and/or rail service.


Since 2006–2007, close to $17.4 billion has been invested in the NHS by all levels of government, with amounts increasing from $2.3 billion in 2006–2007 to $4 billion in 2010/2011, peaking at $4.5 billion in 2009–2010.10 These investments from 2006–2010 have been used to extend the NHS with pavement rated in good condition by 12% (2,600 km), and to decrease the length of pavement in poor condition by 22% (800 km). During this same period, the length of unpaved NHS decreased by more than 24% (800 km).

The NHS also has more than 8,700 bridges, 60% of which are more than 30 years old. Due to increased government investments, however, the number of bridges less than 10 years old increased by 16% between 2006 and 2010, from 896 to 1,223. In contrast, aging infrastructure remains an issue as the number of bridges 50 years or older went from 870 to 1,318 between 2006 and 2010, an increase of more than 50%. Since 2007, almost 700 bridges on the NHS have either been rebuilt or have undergone major rehabilitation.

Between 2005 and 2008 (latest available data),total travel on the NHS increased by more than 6% (from 119 to 127 billion vehicle-kilometres), while truck travel increased by approximately 9% (from 18 to 19.6 billion vehicle-kilometres). Almost 93% of car travel and 95% of truck travel in Canada occurred on the Core National HighwaySystem.11

While the number of collisions on the NHS remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2008, the number of injuries per year decreased 10% and fatalities by about 30% over the same period.

Observing 2005–2008 trends, the injury rate for the NHS is considerably lower—approximately 50% lower—than for Canada's road network as a whole. While the fatality rate for the Core National Highway System is lower than for all roads in Canada, fatality rates on the Feeder and Northern and Remote National Highway Systems are higher than the Canadian average.

Land border crossings

The value of two-way trade between Canada and the U.S. using NHS border crossings decreased by about 18% between 2006 and 2010, while the value of tourism crossing the borders saw a modest growth of 2% over the same period.

Current challenges at the border are a result of balancing trade with increased security in a post-9/11 world. The perceived difficulty of importing and exporting goods is mainly related to increased paperwork, border delays, costs and regulatory requirements. Some industries, such as computer and electronic products and aerospace, have been affected more than others.12

Public transit

Since 2007, public transit has experienced an upswing in ridership and activity. Those five years were marked with the opening of a new SkyTrain line, the CanadaLine in Vancouver and expansion of Montreal's subway into Laval. Toronto and Montreal both placed important orders to renew part of their subway's rolling stock, with Toronto's new Bombardier trains starting to come into service in July 2011. Calgary saw an expansion of its C-Train network with the opening of the McKnight (2007) and Crowfoot (2009) stations. Two additional stations are planned to open in 2012.

Meanwhile, there has been an increased connectivity between public transit and airports, to the benefit of travellers, meeters and greeters, and airport employees. Vancouver's CanadaLine, as well as Calgary's Route 300 Bus Rapid Transit and Montreal's 747 bus line, are all examples of new direct public transit access to airports inaugurated during that five-year span. They join other existing services, such as as Ottawa's 97 Transitway bus line, between the airport, downtown and Bells Corners, Toronto's 197 Rocket connecting Pearson International Airport with Kipling Station, and Winnipeg Transit's bus routes 15 and 20, which both travel between the airport and downtown. Edmonton International Airport is expected to have a bus rapid transit service in place in the spring of 2012.


Between 1990 and 2008, GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles ( LDV s) increased by approximately 14 Mt CO2e —approximately 1% per year or 21% overall—from 71.7 Mt CO2e to 86 Mt CO2e . This can be attributed to population growth and increased passenger activity as well as a shift towards less efficient light trucks and sport utility vehicles. From 1990 to 2009, the share of total emissions generated by air pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles declined, in general. Between 1990 and 2009, PM 2.5 emissions fell by around 2,600 tonnes, SOx emissions by 11,443 tonnes, and NOx and VOC emissions by approximately 366,000 tonnes and 411 thousand tonnes, respectively; carbon monoxide also fell by around 5 Mt.

Between 2008 and 2020, GHG emissions from LDV s are forecast to decline by 0.6% annually, representing a drop from 86 Mt CO2e in 2008 to 80 Mt CO2e in 2020. Implementation of both the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations for model years 2011 to 2016 and the Renewable Fuels Regulations account for most of the expected decline. However, this estimate does not take into account the planned 2017 to 2025 model year GHG emission regulations. Without GHG emissions regulation for LDV s, total emissions from LDV s would rise over the same period from 86 Mt CO2e to 89 Mt CO2e . Also during the 2008–2020 period, GDP is expected to grow by 1.9% and population by 0.9% per year—or 25% and 12% overall, respectively.

From 1990 to 2008, GHG emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles ( M/HDV ) increased by approximately 27 Mt at an average of 3.9% per year—or 96% overall—increasing from approximately 28 to 55 Mt. This can be explained in part by the growing share of freight being moved by trucks.

HDV s contribute primarily to NOx emissions and only marginally to other air pollutant emissions. All HDV -related air pollutant emissions fell significantly from 1990 to 2009 period: PM 2.5 emissions by 13,196 tonnes; SOx emissions by 21,079 tonnes; NOx and VOC s by 88,496 tonnes and 43,302 tonnes, respectively; and CO emissions by 695,934 tonnes.

Starting with model year 2007, HDV engines were required to meet the 2007–2010 emission standards in the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations that fall under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999. These are aligned with U.S. regulations. On May 21, 2010, Canada and the United States each announced that they would regulate GHG emissions from new on-road HDV s, with the proposed Canadian regulations also being harmonized with those of the U.S.

On October 25, 2010, the U.S. released proposed regulations to reduce GHG emissions from new on-road HDV s of 2014 and later model-years. On the same day, the Government of Canada released an initial consultation document to seek early stakeholder views.


Road Safety Vision 2010 ( RSV 2010) was Canada's national road safety plan from January 2002 to December 2010, and the overall quantitative target of the plan was to reduce during this period the average number of road users killed or seriously injured in traffic collisions by 30% or more. The provinces and territories engaged in a number of initiatives to raise awareness and improve road safety in their jurisdictions. A mid-term review of RSV 2010 prompted most jurisdictions to develop new initiatives or increase their efforts in three major road safety areas: drinking and driving, non-use of seat belts, and speeding/aggressive driving. A summary report of RSV 2010's progress will be completed once final road-safety data from all provinces and territories becomes available.

Since 2008, Canada has held the annual National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims on the Wednesday following the third Sunday in November. This day helps Canadians remember and pay their respects to those who have died or been affected by road crashes, and reminds Canadians of the importance of driving safely. Between 2007 and 2011 some 2,157 vehicle recalls were announced13, or on average 431 per year. 2010 alone saw a record 468 recalls.


Increased security requirements at the border have led to complaints about longer wait times. Both Canada and the U.S. have responded in a number of ways, including upgrading and adjusting infrastructure; increasing staffing levels; implementing technological solutions; rebalancing finite resources; and initiating programs to expedite low-risk goods and travellers. Efforts continue to be made to standardize and improve the collection and dissemination of border wait times.

9.4 Economic Framework and infrastructure


The trucking industry, which includes 56,800 firms, consists of for-hire14 carriers, private15 carriers, owner-operators16 and courier17 firms. Another trucking category of “other” includes all trucks used for purposes other than hauling freight commercially—for example, a construction company using trucks for hauling heavy machinery to a job site.

Fleet size, equipment type, geographic scope of operations, service type and type of freight carried all differentiate trucking firms. Results from Statistics Canada's 2010 Annual Trucking Survey18 show that the national fleet in 2010 included 121,000 road tractors, 61,000 other power units and 302,000 non-powered units such as trailers, vans and flat beds.

Trucking firms employed 201,000 persons in 2010, including 128,000 salaried drivers, and an additional 54,000 owner-operators.

The Annual Trucking Survey also indicated that the trucking industry reported $40.8 billion in operating revenue in 2010, a 4.9% increase from 2009. Operating expenses were up 4.6% to $37.9 billion. The increase in operating expenses was led by vehicle fuel expenses (up 12.2%), followed by insurance premiums (up 5.9%) and salaries, wages and benefits (up 5.6%). The industry's operating margin increased 10.0% to $2.9 billion.

The 4,800 largest businesses (those with annual operating revenue of $1.3 million or more) recorded a 6.0% increase in operating revenue and a 4.5% rise in operating expenses, while the remaining smaller firms reported a 2% increase in revenues and a 4.7% growth in expenditures.

Long-distance trucking firms reported $26.7 billion in operating revenue, up 3.0%, while local trucking businesses reported revenues of $14.1 billion, up 8.8% in a year. Domestic freight movements accounted for 77% of total revenues, with the remainder split almost evenly between transborder import and export movements.

Pressures that have shaped the trucking industry recently will continue for at least several more years. To remain competitive, truck carriers must continue to find operational efficiencies to offset rising input costs, as tightening environmental regulations will likely lead to more expensive trucks, fuel costs will continue to climb, and higher environmental, safety and technical standards will require improved equipment and procedures. Increasingly stringent safety and security requirements may shrink the pool of potential drivers, which is problematic as recruiting and retaining qualified drivers is already difficult when demand for trucking is strong. Road congestion in urban areas is growing and creating delays for freight originating, terminating or moving through these areas. The trans-border trucking industry continues to face challenges associated with the increased security measures implemented after 9/11—measures that often result in border delays and additional regulatory requirements that increase industry costs. While these factors are challenging, carriers have a history of thriving by adapting to changing circumstances.

Jurisdiction of trucking in Canada

Trucking is mainly under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. Interprovincial and international trucking services fall under federal jurisdiction, while operations run solely within one jurisdiction fall under that jurisdiction's authority. Contrary to other modes of freight transportation, the federal government's role in trucking is limited when it comes to regulation and policy. This stems from the fact that most roads used by trucks are owned and maintained by provincial, territorial or local governments, and that in 1954 the federal government delegated its responsibility under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act for regulating extra-provincial truck operators to the provinces. The federal government has an interest in trucking vehicle standards under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, in the transportation of dangerous goods, and with respect to its responsibility for international road border crossings with the United States.

In 2011, some large trucking firms continued to consolidate their business activities through acquisitions and mergers. For example, TransForce Inc., which owns Canada's largest truck fleet, continued to increase and diversify its business activities in 2011 mostly through acquisitions in the package and courier business. TransForce acquired the Canadian operations of DHL in spring 2011. It is expected that TransForce will continue to grow, as the company is looking for more acquisitions south of the border.

Long combination vehicles

In Canada, any combination of vehicles more than 25 metres in overall length is considered to be a Long Combination Vehicle ( LCV ). The LCV truck configuration was introduced more than 25 years ago in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario; as a result, LCV s are now allowed on some roads in all provinces/territories except Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Nunavut. The federal-provincial-territorial memorandum that defines Canada's nationally accepted trucks was amended three times19, introducing, among other things, an exemption for a “boat tail” aerodynamic device up to two feet long (when measuring the length of a truck), an exemption for an auxiliary power unit (when measuring the weight of a truck), and an increase in the maximum weight permitted on a wide-base single tire to match U.S. levels. Common configurations of LCV s observed in Canada include a tractor pulling:

  • two long trailers 48' (14.6 m) or 53' (16.2 m), called Turnpike Doubles;
  • one long 48' or 53' (14.6 m or 16.2 m) trailer (14.63 m or 16.15 m) and one short 28' or 28.5' (8.5 m or 8.7 m) trailer, called Rocky Mountain Doubles; or
  • three short 28' or 28.5' (8.5 m or 8.7 m) trailers, called Triples.

While triple trailers are still common in the United States, their popularity has decreased in Canada. The LCV configuration currently observed is primarily Turnpike Doubles, used only on divided four-lane highways and found in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Rocky Mountain Doubles are used on both divided four-lane routes and some designated two-lane highways in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. While still legal in Quebec, they are not a popular choice.

LCV permits specify the conditions under which LCV s are allowed to operate; for example, with a set of equipment upgrades20; highways on which they can be driven; time of day/of year they can be driven21; weather conditions; stringent driver qualifications; and speed restrictions. The completion of continuous four-lane highways across the Prairies and within New Brunswick and Nova Scotia has increased the attractiveness and feasibility of longer distance, interprovincial LCV operations. Provincial and territorial governments are working to harmonize conditions contained in special permits issued for the operation of LCV s.

Intercity buses

Approximately 1,500 bus service operators currently exist in Canada. Bus transportation industry groupings include urban transit systems, interurban and rural bus transportation (scheduled intercity), school and employee bus transportation; charter buses; other ground passenger transportation (shuttle); and scenic/sightseeing transportation. Urban transit is the largest segment22 of the bus transportation industry, followed by the school bus segment, intercity bus operations and the charter/tour bus segment.

The commercial bus industry consists of several somewhat distinct markets, the two most important being intercity and charter/tour. The intercity and charter/tour markets have different passenger bases and service patterns. Intercity operators predominantly use motor coaches, and while many charter carriers do as well, they also use smaller buses and a range of specialized equipment.

Intercity scheduled bus operators are competing with air and passenger rail transportation in markets where bus is a reasonable alternative; competition with transit is confined to the longer-distance commuter market surrounding larger cities.

In most of Canada, the intercity bus passenger base is heavily weighted towards youth, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. In 2010, a survey conducted for the Canadian Bus Association—which represents the major carriers—established that 30% of its riders were students and children, while another 25% were older than 55. Almost 40% were from households with an annual income of less than $25,000, and less than 40% had access to a car on the day of the survey. Surveys from the 1990s and earlier show comparable results.

On the surface, both intercity and charter operators serve discretionary travel markets. This is especially true for charters, where tourism is a major source of revenues—particularly for high-end coach charters and for urban tour bus operators on a seasonal basis. Most riders use intercity bus travel for personal reasons (for example, visiting friends and family). Much of this casual travel is also seen in personal automobile use, reflecting the fact that many bus travellers do not have access to a car. On the charter side, market fluctuations tend to directly echo the state of the economy; the intercity market is steadier, but the passenger base is static or shrinking.

The challenge for operators in the intercity market is to attract a wider spectrum of users to expand the market. However, the industry has been slow to reinvent itself, even in markets like the United States where it has been deregulated since the early 1980s.

In recent years, some see the rapid growth of curbside bus service in the United States as a sign of industry regeneration. This service typically operates between downtown city pairs, relies on web-based ticket sales, and—as the name suggests—does not use fixed bus terminals. In the U.S. it has had some success in attracting business travel, and in some markets it has built a routine client base. However, it is unclear how large the potential market may be for this type of service.

The curbside concept is already familiar in some Canadian markets (e.g., MegaBus service between Montreal and Toronto), but the application is likely to be limited as it requires large-population city pairs—of which Canada has few—and minimal economic regulation to work successfully. In Canada, the expansion of curbside bus services is constrained by entry control in most of the country, making it difficult for new players to enter the intercity bus market. However, the situation may change in some provinces; for example, a federal/provincial/territorial task force report in 2011 recommended that jurisdictions relax regulatory controls on intercity carriers. In October, Alberta became the first large province to completely deregulate its intercity bus service. Other provinces are also evaluating their options and may move towards a more deregulated regime.

The intercity bus industry has taken concrete steps to improve vehicle accessibility for those who are mobility challenged. An intercity bus working group consisting of the Canadian Bus Association, Motor Coach Canada, l'Association des propriétaires d'autobus du Québec, Greyhound Canada and Orléans Express recently collaborated to update the Intercity Bus Code of Practice. The Code establishes the standards for accessible intercity bus services for persons with disabilities, and contains new accessibility provisions that include the following: confirmation of reservations for accessible services; public announcements and signage; courtesy seating on buses and in terminals; relieving areas for service animals; carriage of mobility scooters as baggage; the use of lifts and ramps; boarding and disembarking at flag stops; accessibility of websites; and consultation with persons with disabilities.

Greyhound Canada has designed a ramp to help bus operators load heavy mobility aids such as scooters into the baggage compartment. There is also a growing trend of intercity bus operators using low-floor buses, which allow level boarding entry and eliminate the need for wheelchair lifts. Intercity bus operators also offer free transportation for personal care attendants accompanying persons with disabilities.


Canada has more than one million kilometres of two-lane equivalent roads, 40% of which is paved; a subset of these roads has been designated as the National Highway System ( NHS )—a network that is important from a national, regional and northern and remote perspective.

The vast majority of Canadian highways, including the NHS , fall under provincial, territorial or municipal jurisdiction, so these governments are mainly responsible for the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and financing of the road network, including placing tolls on roads and highways within their jurisdictions. Highways running through national parks as well as a section of the Alaska Highway are the exceptions to this. While more than 95% of the NHS is owned and operated by provincial and territorial authorities, NHS highways through national parks and a section of the Alaska Highway account for another 3%; the remaining 2% fall under municipal jurisdictions.

As of 2010, the NHS encompassed more than 38,069 km of key highway linkages that are vital to both the economy and mobility of Canadians, and is comprised of three categories of routes, each defined by specific criteria that can be used to assess route eligibility:

  • Core Routes: key interprovincial and international corridor routes (including links to intermodal facilities and important border crossings).
  • Feeder Routes: key linkages to Core Routes from population and economic centres (including links to intermodal facilities and important border crossings).
  • Northern and Remote Routes: key linkages to Core and Feeder routes that provide the primary means of access to northern and remote areas, economic activities and resources.

Compared to other developed nations, highway and bridge tolls in Canada are limited; at the end of 2011, the country had 15 bridges, one international border crossing tunnel and three road segments that were tolled (see Addendum Table RO2A). In addition to a small handful of domestic bridges, all international bridge crossings between Canada and the United States are tolled; domestic toll bridges include Confederation Bridge (between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick) and two in the greater Halifax region. A notable example of a toll road is Highway 407 (owned and operated by a private consortium) in the Greater Toronto Area ( GTA ).

Over the last 20 years, the largest share of transportation infrastructure funding has been for new construction, while only a small portion has gone toward rehabilitation work. In the case of highways and roads, new construction consistently accounted for about 80% of investment budgets, leaving 20% for road network rehabilitation.23 The distribution of funding for bridges and overpasses was similar to that for highways and roads during the 1990s, although rehabilitation of these assets has consumed a larger share in recent years—up to 30%.

The federal government invests in highway and road infrastructure through federal funds administered by Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada. All land border crossings and most international bridges are owned or operated by the federal government directly or indirectly via Crown corporations or operating authorities. The Canadian government (through the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited, FBCL ) also owns and maintains several strategic assets in Quebec. FBCL also oversees and manages the Canadian portions of several international bridges, including the Thousands Islands Bridge, the Seaway International Bridge and the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge.

The rest of Canada's road network, basically its vast majority, is under provincial, territorial and municipal jurisdictions, and the federal government's policy role is limited to promoting road safety and developing strategic highway and infrastructure policies that support the best possible transportation system. Over the years the Government of Canada has provided cost-shared funding for constructing and expanding portions of the NHS and some local roads through various funding programs.

The role of provincial and municipal governments is to build, maintain and operate highways, roads and streets. In areas of provincial and municipal jurisdiction, public asset ownership has expanded as road and highway networks have grown; public spending has increased accordingly to support this network. For example, in 1996 the length of public roads (both paved and unpaved) was estimated at 900,000 km, while in 2008 it was estimated at 1,042,300 km, representing a 15.8% growth. Together, all levels of government spent $28.9 billion on roads and highways in 2009–10, almost 80% more than just five years ago.

After several years of heightened spending to meet transportation needs and to counter the effects of the economic crisis, governments across Canada, including the federal government, have turned their attention to managing or reducing deficits. Limited government spending will intensify competition between various sectors (e.g., transportation, health, education and environment) for increasingly scarce resources. In addition to public sector deficits and debt, the economic downturn has also constrained the availability of private capital to fund transportation projects.

Many jurisdictions are beginning to investigate or consider alternative means of financing public infrastructure—including roads and highways—such as tolls, other user charges and public-private partnerships.

Federal bridges

The Constitution Act gave provincial and territorial governments jurisdiction over infrastructure works such as highways and—by extension—bridges, with the exception of international or interprovincial structures. Despite these constitutional provisions, the federal government has an inventory of some 500 highway-related bridges open to the public, representing a very small subset (approximately 1%) of all bridges in Canada. These bridges are the responsibility of four federal departments/agencies: Public Works and Government Services Canada, Parks Canada Agency, the National Capital Commission (which owns and operates its own structures) and Transport Canada, whose portfolio of bridges is managed by Crown corporations or shared governance regimes ( FBCL , Blue Water Bridge Canada, Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority [Peace Bridge Authority] and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation).

The FBCL , together with its three subsidiaries—the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, the Seaway International Bridge Corporation, Ltd. and St. Mary's River Bridge Company—owns, manages and operates several important bridges in Ontario and Quebec. In 2011–12 the FBCL was responsible for more than $216 million in operating and capital funding used on major multi-year projects such as the Sault Ste. Marie customs plaza rehabilitation; the new low-level North Channel Bridge in Cornwall; the Honoré Mercier Bridge rehabilitation in Montreal; the third year of the major repair program of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal; and the first of a three year safety repair and asset preservation program in Montreal on Highway 15, the Bonaventure Expressway, the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the Honoré Mercier Bridge, the Melocheville Tunnel and the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure.

On October 5, 2011, the Government of Canada announced that it will proceed with the construction of a new bridge over the St. Lawrence in the vicinity of the current Champlain Bridge in the Montreal area. The existing six-lane bridge is 50 years old and is the busiest bridge in Canada, with estimated annual totals of 11 million public transit commuters, 60 million trips and $20 billion of international trade crossing the bridge. Over the coming months, the government will hold important discussions with partners to determine the most effective and efficient way of moving this project forward.

Further upstream from the existing Champlain Bridge will be a new bridge over the St. Lawrence Seaway constructed as part of the Highway 30 completion project. This $2.5-billion project will be financed by the Government of Quebec ($1.84 billion) and the federal government ($704.5 million), and will act as a bypass around the Island of Montreal, helping reduce road congestion. The new highway will facilitate access to markets in Ontario, the Maritimes and the U.S. by improving connections between Highways 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 and 540.

The western part of the project involves building a four-lane divided highway (a two-lane carriageway in either direction) over a span of 42 km between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Châteauguay; it also includes a 1,860-metre bridge over the St. Lawrence River and a 2.55-km bridge across the St. Lawrence Seaway at the Beauharnois Canal. The western part of the project is being built under a public-private partnership between Quebec and Nouvelle Autoroute 30, S.E.N.C., a private partner, an arrangement chosen for several reasons, including cost, construction timetable and risk management.

The federal contribution to the project, which will cover the cost of the bridge, is the largest contribution ever made by the federal government to a road infrastructure project. This funding is managed through a contribution agreement under the Building Canada Fund signed on March 24, 2011 with the Government of Quebec.

Construction on the western part of the project began in February 2009, and it is expected that the 42-km stretch will open in December 2012, completing the work on Highway 30 between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Candiac.

Another bridge project spearheaded by the federal government is the construction of a new bridge in the Windsor-Detroit area. The Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor to Detroit, sees 25% of all Canada-U.S. trade, making it—and is the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs depend on the ability of manufacturers and shippers to efficiently move goods at this critical corridor. Trade moving through the Windsor-Detroit gateway is expected to continue increasing well into the future. A secure and efficient Windsor linkage is and will remain vital to the current and future economies of both countries.

The Detroit River International Crossing ( DRIC ) project, referred to in Michigan as the New International Trade Crossing ( NITC )—has been in development by Transport Canada for more than a decade. Following one of the most extensive transportation environmental assessments ever undertaken in Canada, the project received environmental clearances in both Canada and the United States as well as the support of communities, private sector users and governments in both countries.

The project includes a new six-lane bridge; the 11-km Windsor-Essex Parkway (connecting Highway 401 to the new bridge); state-of-the-art inspection plazas on both sides of the border; and highway connections to U.S. interstates 75 and 94 in Michigan. The new DRIC / NITC crossing will serve to handle the anticipated growth in trade and volumes of trade traffic that will be using the Windsor-Detroit crossing.

Construction of the Windsor-Essex Parkway began in 2011, with the Government of Canada—which is partnering with the Ontario government on this project—funding up to 50% of the eligible capital costs.

The new crossing will be publicly owned and is expected to be built using a public-private partnership (P3). Given the importance of this new crossing to the economic security and future prosperity of both Canada and the U.S., the federal government has indicated to Michigan that it is prepared to increase its financial participation in this project, up to a maximum of US$550 million; this increased financial participation is for project components in Michigan that would not be funded by the P3 or the U.S. government.

In Canada, all non-bridge international crossings are built, owned and operated by the Canada Border Services Agency ( CBSA ). Where bridges or tunnels form part of the crossing and a toll or other charge is payable, the owner or operator of the bridge or tunnel is responsible for the construction and maintenance of CBSA inspection facilities associated with the crossing, free of charge.24

Land border crossings

In 2011, 10 of the 20 largest border crossings in Canada recorded higher truck traffic from the previous year, while truck activity at Canada's busiest border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, decreased by 2.0% from the previous year.

Nearly 73% of Canada-U.S. trade (by value) carried by trucks took place at six border crossings: Windsor (Ambassador Bridge), Fort Erie (Peace Bridge/Queenston-Lewiston Bridge (combined)), Sarnia (Bluewater Bridge), as well as Lacolle, QC, Emerson, MB, and Pacific Highway, BC (see Table EC10). The top 10 border crossings process more than 91.5% of truck traffic. The composition of goods carried by truck varies by region and by border crossing, but the top five imports and exports carried by truck in 2011 were: machinery and electrical equipment (29.5% of imports and 19.7% of exports); other manufactured and miscellaneous goods (16.4% of imports and 20.1% of exports); plastics and chemical products (11.4% of both imports exports); automobiles and other related materials (19.2% of imports and 17.7% of exports); and agricultural and food products (9.3% of imports and 11.8% of exports) (see Table RO18).

Urban transportation

Lower-mainland British Columbia
Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games legacy

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games were the largest and logistically most complicated event ever held in Metro Vancouver. An estimated 5,500 athletes and officials from more than 80 countries, 10,000 media members, 25,000 volunteers and 1.6 million event ticket holders travelled between different Olympic sites and created additional demand on the road system. Olympic Lanes were implemented to support Games-related traffic demand, which consequently took away road capacity for general traffic. Several roads were closed due to security reasons and some corridors were converted to dedicated pedestrian-only lanes, which further reduced road capacity. As a result, the road capacity to and from downtown core was reduced by up to 50%.

In preparation, the Olympic and Paralympic Transportation Team ( OPTT ) was formed to develop an integrated transportation plan for the event. The OPTT was a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the Vancouver Organizing Committee ( VANOC ), the City of Vancouver, Resort Municipality of Whistler, TransLink, BC Transit, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Vancouver Integrated Security Unit, City of Richmond, District of West Vancouver and Transport Canada.

Prior to the Games, and after months of planning, the OPTT released its 2010 Olympic Integrated Transportation Plan with the goal of reducing vehicle traffic to the downtown core by at least 30%. Measures taken include: (1) discouraging use of private vehicles; (2) increasing public transit service in Metro Vancouver and the Sea to Sky region; (3) using dedicated pedestrian corridors along key routes to move people; (4) extending parking restrictions; (5) introducing curbside stopping and turning restrictions; (6) prohibiting spectator parking at venues; and (7) offering free secure bicycle parking at venues.

During the Games, TransLink reported a large increase in transit ridership: bus ridership increased by 34%, and ridership for the SeaBus and Canada Line doubled, while ridership on the Expo and Millennium Lines SkyTrain increased by 54%, and West Coast Express by 78%.25

After the Games, the City of Vancouver highlighted the success of the Plan with the following figures that further demonstrated the willingness of Vancouverites to use alternate modes of transportation rather than private vehicles:

  • The transportation network accommodated 44% more person trips to and from downtown.
  • Walking, cycling and transit to downtown more than doubled over 24 hours.
  • Vehicle trips to and from the downtown core decreased by 29%.
  • Average vehicle occupancy to and from the downtown core increased by 14% over 24 hours.
  • Almost 80% of spectators at downtown venues walked, cycled or took transit.
  • More than 350,000 people used the downtown pedestrian corridors during business days.26

Wanting to leave Vancouver with a lasting legacy of transportation, many of the initiatives implemented during the games have been continuously pursued by the agencies comprising the OPTT . For example, the City of Vancouver has established a permanent screen line count program for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians in and out of the downtown core, as part of the City's continued effort to monitor transportation usage by mode and to collect data to support its ongoing transportation planning purposes. This data could assist in policy decision-making, and promote innovative initiatives to encourage sustainable travel. Furthermore, TransLink—the region's transportation authority—is continuing its efforts to reduce overall traffic with TravelSmart, a program that helps businesses and residents of Metro Vancouver make smarter travel choices and reduce single-vehicle-occupancy trips. TravelSmart includes an Employer Pass Program, ridesharing, car sharing, bicycling, walking and telework. TransLink also works in partnership with ticket sales and distribution companies to include transit fares at a discounted rate within the price of event tickets.

Fare cards

Rechargeable fare cards are not a new concept in public transit, but their use has substantially increased in the past few years. The Société de transport de l'Outaouais was the first transit operator to introduce the cards in Canada in 1998. In 2008, Montreal introduced the OPUS card, which let riders carry multiple fares on a single card. In 2009, Metrolinx introduced the PRESTO fare card and began rolling it out to eight transit authorities across the GTHA . In addition, PRESTO is accepted at 12 Toronto subway stations and should be accepted throughout the Toronto Transit Commission network by 2015, in time for the Pan-American Games. Translink in Vancouver plans to introduce a smart card named Compass in 2013 as part of its $171-million electronic faregate project; Compass will work on buses, the SkyTrain, the SeaBus as well as West Coast Express commuter trains. The faregate project will receive $30 million in federal funding and $40 million in provincial funding.

Other initiatives currently under review by the OPTT agencies for implementation include extending bus lane hours and the public bike system. Extending bus lane hours will help ensure faster and more reliable travel time for a longer portion of the day, while extending the public bike system would provide an alternative to driving and could reduce congestion. During the Games, much expanded transit services and a large fleet of high-quality, public-use bicycles were extremely popular with the general public.

Growing population, growing urban transit demand in Metro Vancouver

According to BC Stats, the Metro Vancouver region grew to 2.37 million people in 2010, a 7.98% increase from the 2.19 million reported in 2006—a rapid population growth that has led to increased demand on the transit network.27

TransLink recorded a large increase in transit use from 2006 to 2010. The number of boardings—defined as each time a person boards a transit vehicle—for the West Coast Express increased 21.7%, from 2.29 million in 2006 to 2.78 million in 2010. The West Coast Express is the interregional community railway that links Metro Vancouver with Mission, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody. In 2010, the Expo and Millennium Lines recorded more than 79.2 million boardings, a 14.1% increase from 2006. The Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines comprise the automated light rapid transit system; the Expo Line links Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey, while the Millennium Line shares its tracks from Vancouver to New Westminster, then continues along its own route through North Burnaby and East Vancouver. The Canada Line also registered 38.4 million boardings in 2010, reaching this level of ridership three years before originally forecast. The Canada Line connects Vancouver, Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport (see map).

The population of Metro Vancouver is expected to grow to 3.4 million by 2041, with the greatest increases expected in Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam and Vancouver.28 The $1.4-billion Provincial Transit Plan announced in 2008 included plans for new transit routes in Metro Vancouver. Construction on the Evergreen Line—a project jointly funded by the Government of Canada (up to $416.7 million), the Government of British Columbia ($410 million) and TransLink ($400 million)—will begin in summer 2012, with full operation scheduled for 2016. The University of British Columbia and Surrey Lines (refer to the dotted lines on the map above) remain in the conceptual evaluation stage.

Southern Ontario

The safe, secure, clean and efficient movement of goods in Ontario—most notably in southern Ontario—is of critical importance to industry stakeholders and all levels of government due to the significant volume of goods moving throughout this area. With this in mind, considerations relating to linkages between the movement of goods, transportation infrastructure, congestion and environmental impacts were at the forefront of government, industry and public examinations in 2011.

Local municipalities with responsibilities for providing the infrastructure that services goods-movement transportation hubs are examining their land-use planning and transportation master plans to find ways to better facilitate movement of goods via all modes. Nevertheless, truck transportation remains the main mode of freight transportation used in this region. Many municipalities continue to actively develop and budget for various timely and strategic investments in fields such as signalling, roadway improvements, policy harmonization and route maps, all with the aim of supporting the movement of goods.

In 2011, the Ontario government maintained its strategy of planning for further improvements to its 400-series highways and studying key corridors—including those in the Greater Toronto Area West, Niagara and South Simcoe areas—with the objective of facilitating more efficient inter- and intra-provincial movement of goods.

Discussions with industry and all levels of government have also led to changes in weight and dimension restrictions, limits on how many hours drivers can work, vehicle speed limitations, and the introduction of long combination vehicles ( LCV s), which consists of a truck tractor pulling two or three trailers.

The Regional Municipality of Peel, with its heavy concentration of jobs in goods-movement transport, warehousing, and related industries, has established a Goods Movement Task Force. All levels of government and the private sector are participating to develop options for the Regional Council to consider to address issues and opportunities pertaining to the movement of goods in and around the GTHA .

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area ( GTHA )

Gridlock in larger urban centres remained a key economic, transportation and environmental issue for Ontario in 2011, most notably in the GTHA . The Government of Ontario, both independently and in collaboration with a number of municipalities—and in some instances with federal funding support—continued to address the issue, actively advancing local transit planning and investments, and researching ways to improve the efficiency of people and goods movement in the region.

At the provincial level, Metrolinx—the provincial agency responsible for transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area ( GTHA )—released its GTHA Urban Freight Study in 2011, which proposed a number of actions to improve the efficiency of goods movement in the region. Metrolinx also launched a related study with input from academia and other levels of government to advance the collection of goods-movement data in the region.

With the involvement of Metrolinx—the provincial government-mandated regional transportation agency— and its operating division, GO Transit rapid transit bus lanes are being developed on selected arterial roads in the Regional Municipality of York and the City of Mississauga.

In Toronto, the province and the Mayor agreed to a revised transit plan with the province (via Metrolinx) being responsible for developing the Eglinton Light Rail Transit line, and the City being responsible for developing an extension of the Sheppard subway line—for which the Mayor is hoping to attract private investment to cover much of the costs.

Metrolinx, via its operating division GO Transit, continued to acquire additional rail corridors in 2011 and now owns approximately 61% of the track on which it operates. Metrolinx also continued to develop an Investment Strategy, which must be tabled by June 2013, aimed at identifying a stable and predictable capital and operating revenue stream to support full implementation of its Regional Transportation Plan, The Big Move.

Metrolinx also launched an exercise in 2011 that will refine The Big Move to reflect progress made since its 2008 release, and that will enable full integration of GO Transit's Strategic Plan, GO2020. Metrolinx is aiming to release The Big Move 2.0 in 2012.

The Cities of Ottawa and Hamilton, as well as the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, continued planning for their respective intended light rail transit systems in 2011, while passenger rail services between Peterborough and Toronto remained under active study.


Urban transit in the Montreal Metropolitan Area is shared amongst a provincial planning agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (Agence métropolitaine de transport or AMT ), three public transit corporations—the STM, STL and RTL serving respectively the island of Montreal, Laval and Longueil and the South Shore—and 11 inter-municipal transportation councils serving the outer suburban area. The AMT manages the commuter rail network—which is operated by Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway—as well as metropolitan terminals and some express services, while the Montreal Transit Corporation (Société de transport de Montréal or STM) operates Montreal's subway system, whose 68 stations serve Montreal, Laval and Longueil.

A number of public transit projects are currently planned for the greater Montreal area. The Eastern Train (Train de l'Est) would see a new service offered from Central Station in Montreal to Mascouche on the North Shore of the Saint Lawrence. Construction for this project began in 2010 and current project costs are estimated at $600 million. The AMT is studying a number of other projects, including a major track capacity increase on its Vaudreuil-Hudson Line, a project named the Western Train (Train de l'Ouest), as well as subway extensions in Montreal, Laval and Longueil, in cooperation with local transit authorities. The STM, meanwhile, purchased 468 new subway cars for $1.2 billion from Bombardier to replace 342 subway cars in use since the subway began operating in 1966. These new cars should be introduced into the network beginning in 2014. The STM is also looking at ways to increase its network capacity, be it through reintroduction of tramways on a number of routes in the central core or by developing priority measures for buses on 240 km of roadway.

Active transportation

Narrowly defined, active transportation is any form of human-powered transportation, including walking, cycling, travelling on mobility devices, rollerblading, skating, skateboarding, cross-country skiing and more. In a municipal context, active transportation plans and programs focus on specific trip purposes—such as trips to work, school or shopping—without neglecting recreational/tourist-related trips. Active transportation requires safe, secure infrastructure (such as trails/paths, sidewalks and even the side of roads) that are connected to activity centres in the community.

Active transportation goals pursued by Canadian municipalities include helping people and communities improve health, wellbeing and quality of life; increasing accessibility and tourism potential; reducing travel costs, air pollution, GHG emissions, and surface areas dedicated to roads and car parking; using existing infrastructure more efficiently; and revitalizing urban centres.

Velo-City Global 2012

Vancouver will host the Velo-City Global 2012 conference from June 26th to 28th. This is one of the world's premier international cycling planning conferences. It is a chance to exchange and showcase measures to encourage cycling-friendly cities where the bicycle is part of both transportation and recreation. More information on the conference is available at

All large municipalities in Canada have adopted pedestrian and cycling plans and strategies, some of which incorporate other modes of self-propelled transportation. Emphasis on active transportation connectivity has emerged, leading to cycling and public transit combination initiatives (e.g., “bike-and-ride” in Toronto and “rack & roll” in Ottawa and Saskatoon). The promotion of active transportation has led to special emphasis on on-road/off-road facilities for non-motorized movements within cities; for example, constructing new bike paths; road segregation that separates bicycle and car lanes; improved cycling access and parking at transit stations; and bicycle lockers and sheltered racks.

Across the country numerous projects are underway to increase the urban bike path network. Vancouver has more than 400 km of bike paths and cycling accounts for 4% of commuter trips, and in 2011 the city was the recipient of the Bill Curtis Technical Achievement Award from the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers—Vancouver Chapter. This award was in recognition of the Vancouver Downtown Separated Bike Lanes for outstanding transportation project achievement. Calgary also currently has more than 700 km of pedestrian and bicycle paths as part of its Pathway system, one of the largest in North America. The 2010 Pathway survey found that 95% of residents use the Pathway in one way or another, and in Toronto the Bikeway Network will eventually include more than 1,000 km of bike paths, making every Torontonian no more than a five-minute bike ride from the network. In Ottawa, the 2008 Cycling Plan proposed extending the 540 km of bike paths the city enjoys to 2,500 km within 20 years. In Quebec, the Green Road consists of more than 4,000 km of bike paths across most of the province and connects with the more than 650 km of bike paths in Montreal, while Halifax has a 98-km bicycle network, including 87 km of bike lanes.

Accessibility in public transit

The Canadian Transportation Agency's mandate is—among other things—to ensure that the federal transportation system is accessible to all Canadians and that undue obstacles are removed. This includes municipal transit systems that cross provincial or international boundaries, such as OC Transpo in Ottawa/Gatineau. In a November 2007 decision, the Agency found that OC Transpo's failure to call out stops was an undue obstacle to persons requiring this due to a disability, and ordered OC Transpo to ensure that bus operators call out major and requested stops on all of its routes.

OC Transpo has since installed the Next Stop Announcement System, which announces each upcoming stop automatically in both official languages as the bus departs from the previous stop, while the Next Stop Display inside the bus visually displays the route number and destination, the upcoming stop and the time of day in a bilingual format.

Urban congestion

Cities are where most Canadians live and work, and where substantial economic activities occur. Canadian cities have experienced significant population and economic growth over recent years—trends that will continue into the foreseeable future.29 However, the increasing importance of cities has resulted in some complex challenges, such as urban congestion, which results from overuse of road space.

Based on 2006 data, urban congestion in Canada's nine largest cities costs an estimated $3.1–$4.6 billion annually. This is a conservative estimate, as it only takes into account the costs related to time delays for drivers and to wasted fuel and GHG emissions.30 Congestion negatively affects the movement of people and freight in urban areas; moving freight efficiently through urban areas is vital for Canada's competitiveness and prosperity. For businesses, urban areas are not only important markets for goods and services, but a significant portion of goods can reach their intended destinations only by travelling through major airports, marine terminals and intermodal facilities located in urban areas. The three largest Canadian cities—Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—account for more than one-third of Canada's GDP , demonstrating that urban freight movement is a significant contributor to the success of local, regional and national economies. When freight cannot travel efficiently to, from and within urban areas, economic, environmental and social impacts ensue.

Pooled Vehicles


Launched in May 2009, Bixi Montréal is Canada's largest bike-share system—an emerging active transportation initiative—with 5,000 bicycles at 405 stations. The Bixi design has since been exported to other cities: Bixi Toronto opened in May 2011 and is the second largest bike share in the country with 1,000 bicycles and 80 stations, and Capital Bixi serves Ottawa/Gatineau with 100 bikes and 10 stations.

Preceded by other bicycle-sharing initiatives in Toronto and Edmonton, Bixi's modular bicycle sharing system was developed at the request of the Montreal parking authority. Numerous bike-sharing systems have been tested in Europe and in the United States as well, with bicycle theft and vandalism standing out as important issues in this type of system.


Car sharing is becoming a more popular form of urban transportation with car-sharing companies now in most of Canada's large cities, providing service to thousands of individuals, families and companies. Communauto in Montreal is an example of socially and environmentally oriented firms offering a car-equivalent approach to the Bixi system—it proposes car sharing as a way to reduce car ownership and therefore automobile emissions. Communauto subscribers have access to a fleet of 1,100 gasoline-powered cars and 50 electrical cars they can rent at a small cost for half an hour, an hour, a day or a longer period of time. For its subscribers, Communauto has developed partnerships with car-pooling initiatives, and has negotiated discounts with VIA Rail and transit authorities. Communauto is present in Montreal, Laval, Longueuil, St-Lambert, St-Bruno, Sherbrooke, Québec City and Ottawa-Gatineau.

Another way to decrease urban congestion is to reduce automobile dependency and encourage a shift to public transportation. While public transit is a provincial and municipal responsibility, the federal government has invested more than $6.5 billion in transit infrastructure across Canada since 2002, through programs such as the Building Canada Fund ( BCF ) and the Gas Tax Fund. The federal government also helps mitigate the impacts of urban congestion by directly supporting activities that result in freight moving efficiently in urban areas. For example, the National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors, released in 2007, was developed to advance the competitiveness of the Canadian economy by facilitating international trade. The Framework emphasizes an integrated approach to infrastructure that includes policy, regulatory and operational measures. The $2.1-billion Gateways and Border Crossings Fund ( GBCF ) and the $1-billion Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative ( APGCI ) provide federal funding for Gateway initiatives. Provinces and the private sector also contribute to these initiatives.

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Intelligent Transportation Systems ( ITS ) are a combination of innovative technologies, communications systems and management strategies that are applied to the transportation network to optimize operations. In doing so, they maximize benefits from existing infrastructure—increased efficiency, safety, security and environmental sustainability—and minimize the need for new capital investments. ITS is also used to manage fleets of transportation equipment, while real-time data generated by integrated ITS provides valuable and actionable operational information to system operators, private sector transportation providers and travellers.

A wide range of ITS has been deployed in Canada, and much more is planned. Illustrative examples of projects in which Transport Canada was a partner include:

  • Traveller information—in Metro Vancouver, a new Regional Traffic Data System will produce real-time traffic flow information along the region's main roads and strategic highway corridors (including truck routes) and display it online, allowing drivers to avoid busy stretches and operators to manage congestion. This will complement the area's new Transportation Management Centre.
  • Commercial vehicle operations—in British Columbia, the Weigh2Go system improves commercial vehicle safety with intelligent inspection stations, which remotely measure vehicle weight and credentials at highway speed.
  • Supply-chain security/efficiency—the Canada-China Marine E-Tag Container Pilot Project will improve supply chain security and efficiency through the use of radio frequency identification ( RFID ) tags as well as GPS/satellite tracking and monitoring technologies.
  • Border efficiency—Transport Canada is working with partner agencies in Canada and the U.S. to improve border efficiency by installing sensors to measure and broadcast wait times at the busiest border crossings.


AUTO21 is a Network of Centres of Excellence enhancing automotive research and development ( R&D ) by partnering with the private sector to support more than 200 researchers covering 40 universities and 220 industry partners across Canada. R&D efforts aim to advance automotive innovation in a variety of fields. Since 2001, AUTO21 has invested more than $90 million in R&D , which has resulted in more than 100 patents, licences and commercialization agreements.

Recent years have seen a shift towards a more holistic approach in many countries, often known as Smart Corridor strategies. These ITS applications to transportation components of strategies allow a more complete capture of the strategies' potential benefits.

Based on collaboration among stakeholders, Smart Corridor strategies use advanced technologies to support integration across transport modes, improving overall corridor performance, reliability, safety and fuel use. Transport Canada is now implementing and developing Smart Corridor strategies in Canada's gateways and corridors. In the Asia-Pacific Gateway these efforts are quite advanced, and Transport Canada is leading efforts to integrate existing and planned systems.

9.5 Road transportation and the environment

Road transportation can be seen in some respect to have a significantly higher environmental footprint than others modes. This is in part due to the smaller size of vehicles, which reduces fuel efficiency gains. However, this mode of transportation also presents a number of opportunities to reduce its environmental impact through alternative fuels, cleaner burning engines and technology.

Jurisdiction of environment and road transportation

Air pollutant and GHG emissions from new vehicles produced in or imported into Canada are regulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the performance of the in-use fleet.

Road fuels

Advancing the development of lower carbon-intensive alternative and renewable fuels is supported by the federal Renewable Fuel Strategy, which has four components:

  1. increasing renewable fuel availability via regulation
  2. supporting the expansion of industry production
  3. assisting feedstock production in the agriculture sector
  4. accelerating commercialization of new technologies

The government released its Renewable Fuels Regulations in two parts: the first (in September 2010) requires an average annual renewable fuel—fuel produced from renewable sources—content of 5% in gasoline starting December 15, 2010. The second, starting in July 2011, requires an average annual renewable fuel content of 2% in diesel fuel produced or imported for sale. Combined with complementary provincial regulations, these federal regulations are expected to lower annual GHG emissions by up to 4 Mt—the equivalent of taking one million vehicles off the road.

In 2007, the government also launched its ecoENERGY for Biofuels Program, which will invest up to $1.5 billion to boost domestic production of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Administered by Natural Resources Canada, this initiative runs until March 31, 2017 and, based on production levels and other factors, provides operating incentives to those producing renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. The initiative will make investing in production facilities more attractive by partially offsetting the risk associated with fluctuating feedstock and fuel prices.

Also in 2007, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods launched the $200-million ecoAGRICULTURE Biofuels Capital Initiative to provide repayable contributions to help farmers overcome the challenge of raising the capital necessary for constructing or expanding biofuel production facilities. The Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative was also expanded to assist producers to develop business proposals and feasibility studies to expand biofuel production capacity.

Announced in the 2007 federal Budget and administered by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the $500-million NextGen Biofuels Fund supports the establishment of commercial-scale demonstration facilities producing next-generation renewable fuels and co-products. This fund is encouraging retention and growth of domestic technology expertise and innovation capacity for cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel production in Canada.

Electric vehicles

Together with industry, academia and various levels of government, Transport Canada has been actively engaged in research and development projects to overcome barriers to the widespread use of electric vehicle technologies in Canada's automotive sector. In fiscal year 2011–12, the department invested $1.05 million in technologies to improve winter operations, increase safety and enhance efficiency in both the light- and heavy-duty sectors. Cross-modal applications have also been assessed to further reduce the energy and emissions footprint of the transportation sector as a whole.

Launched in 2010, the Natural Gas Use in the Canadian Transportation Sector Deployment Roadmap has brought together government and non-government organizations, industry and end-user stakeholders to discuss opportunities and challenges for the broader use of natural gas in the medium- to heavy-duty vehicle sector.

Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations

The Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations—which are aligned with U.S. regulations—apply to companies that manufacture or import new passenger automobiles and light trucks (2011 and subsequent model years) to sell in Canada.

Companies must comply with unique fleet average GHG emissions standards for passenger automobiles and light trucks for each model year; each company's unique fleet average standard is determined based on the size (i.e., footprint) and number of vehicles it sells of a given model year.

The fleet average GHG emissions standards become progressively more stringent with each new model year from 2012–2016; the regulations also establish separate limits for other tailpipe GHG emissions such as nitrous oxide ( N2O ) and methane ( CH4 ).

The regulations also include provisions that recognize vehicle design improvements that reduce GHG emissions through approaches other than directly reducing tailpipe CO2 emissions, including:

  • technologies that reduce the impact of air conditioning system refrigerant leakage (e.g., hydrofluorocarbons);
  • technologies that improve the efficiency of air conditioning systems; and
  • other innovative technologies that reduce GHG emissions under conditions that are not captured by conventional emission testing procedures.

Proposed regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles

The proposed Regulations to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New On-Road Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Engines would seek to reduce emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of the whole range of new on-road heavy-duty vehicles—from full-size pick-up trucks to tractor-trailers—and include a wide variety of vocational vehicles such as freight, delivery, service, cement, garbage and dump trucks and buses. The regulations would also promote implementing advanced technology vehicles such as hybrid and electric vehicles.

The proposed regulations would continue to build upon the policy of alignment of vehicle emission regulations with the Unites States given the integrated nature of the North American vehicle manufacturing industry.

These regulations would apply to those manufacturing and importing new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines to sell in Canada, but not to owners or operators of heavy-duty vehicles or engines. They would also establish GHG emissions standards that would be expressed as the quantity of GHG emissions emitted per unit of work delivered.

Provincial initiatives on sustainable transportation

Nearly every province and territory has a climate change and air quality action plan that includes measures to reduce current and future GHG and air pollutant emissions from transportation. Some of these action plans include legally binding emissions reduction targets (established via provincial legislation or regulation).

Each action plan, and associated transportation measures, is tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the respective jurisdiction. Transportation measures include fiscal and tax incentives to facilitate the adoption of clean transportation technologies or practices, direct financial investments, as well as education and outreach programs. Select provincial measures include:

  • British Columbia's revenue-neutral carbon tax on GHG emissions from fossil fuel combustion, which will increase fuel prices similar to motor fuel taxes and create incentives for fuel efficiency and lowering vehicles kilometres travelled;
  • Ontario's Electric Vehicles Plan, featuring consumer rebates and charging infrastructure investments, is targeting to have one out of every 20 vehicles be electrically powered by 2020;
  • Québec's “Blue Road” collaborative initiative with Robert Transport and Gaz Métro, which features tax incentives and fuelling infrastructure for liquefied natural gas-powered commercial trucks operating between Québec City and Toronto, will serve as a catalyst for future private sector investments in this area;
  • Quebec's 2011–2020 Action Plan for Electric Vehicles, featuring consumer rebates, charging infrastructure investments, education, outreach, and public transit and industry development incentives, aims to have up to 25% of all new light passenger vehicles sales to be electric vehicles by 2020;
  • New Brunswick's Climate Change Action Plan, which includes the adoption of weigh-in-motion facilities and strategic highway infrastructure investments to improve the flow of goods and people as well as permitting more efficient long combination vehicles to operate on four-lane highways in the province.

Environmental emissions from trucking

Progress has been made in reducing the environmental impacts of trucks. Federal government regulations on air emissions from diesel engines were tightened in 2007 and again in 2010, and as a result, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other combustion products are decreasing as new trucks displace older ones. Carriers are making technological improvements to reduce fuel consumption, such as installing devices that improve truck aerodynamics and using low-rolling resistance tires. GHG emissions are now decreasing for new and existing trucks equipped with these devices.

Changes to provincial/territorial regulations for vehicle weights and dimensions are facilitating carriers' adoption of more efficient equipment. Long Combination Vehicles ( LCV s) were identified by the Canadian Council of Energy Ministers in Moving Forward on Energy Efficiency in Canada as one of four priority areas due to their potential to move light, bulky, freight-like food products, some automotive parts, and consumer goods more efficiently, and to therefore save on fuel consumption and reduce GHG emissions.

Jurisdiction of road safety in Canada

Responsibility for road safety is divided between the federal and provincial/territorial governments, who in turn delegate some responsibilities to municipalities, such as speed limits on local roads.

Transport Canada sets and enforces safety standards required for new vehicles sold in Canada, including imported vehicles (new and used), and regulates federal jurisdiction motor carriers (e.g. hours of service regulations for commercial vehicle drivers of trucks and buses).

The provincial/territorial governments' Highway Traffic Acts or Motor Vehicle Acts regulate drivers and vehicle use, including driver licenses, vehicle loading, winter tire use, seat belt usage and speed limits.

In the wake of economic deregulation of the trucking industry in 1988, the National Safety Code ( NSC ) was developed with the provinces and territories to advance commercial motor carrier safety. NSC standards are adapted, administered and enforced by the provinces and territories, and address key safety aspects of commercial vehicle operations such as hours of service, cargo securement and issuance of safety fitness certificates. Federal, provincial and territorial regulations provide uniform and equitable treatment of motor carriers across Canada.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators is a non-profit organization comprised of provincial, territorial and federal government representatives that seeks consensus on administration and operational matters dealing with licensing, registration and control of motor vehicle transportation and highway safety.

9.6 Safety


2010's estimated road casualty collisions decreased 0.6% from 2009, with fatalities dropping 1.0% and injuries decreasing 0.5% (see Table S7). Between 2006 and 2010, road casualty collisions decreased by 15.4%, from 145,115 to 122,820. During the same period, fatalities decreased from 2,884 to 2,186 (a decrease of 24.2%) and injuries dropped 15.4%, from 202,854 to 171,694. The average number of fatalities from 2006 to 2010 was 2,634—6.5% lower than the average number (2,817) in the previous five-year period (2001–2005). Overall, during the 10-year period, fatalities have dropped 20.7%, from 2,756 in the year 2001 to 2,186 in 2010. This occurred while the numbers of registered vehicles and drivers were steadily increasing.

Fatality rates per 10,000 registered motor vehicles dropped from 1.4 in 2006 to 1.0 in 2010. Following a similar trend, fatalities per billion vehicle-kilometres travelled dropped from 8.8 to 6.6, while fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers dropped from 13.0 to 9.5. Fatalities per 100,000 people also dropped from 8.9 to 6.6. Between 2006 and 2010, fatalities decreased by 24.2% for all categories of road users. The biggest drops have been with bicyclists, drivers, and passengers—down 31.5, 27.3 and 22.9%, respectively. Motorcyclist fatalities were also down 17.0% during this period, while pedestrian fatalities dropped 17.8%.

Of the estimated 2,186 fatalities in 2010, speeding was cited as a contributing factor in about 25.0%, down from 27.4% in 2006. In an attempt to reduce the number of speed-related collisions, several jurisdictions have introduced serious penalties (including heavy fines and vehicle impoundment for street racing or travelling 50 km/hr or more above the posted speed limit).

Road Safety Strategy

Canada's third national road safety plan, Road Safety Strategy 2015 ( RSS 2015), became effective January 1, 2011. The result of extensive consultations among government members and key road safety stakeholders, the new five-year strategy was endorsed by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in September 2010.

RSS 2015 retained key branding elements of RSV 2010, namely the vision of achieving the safest roads in the world as well as the four strategic objectives of raising public awareness and commitment to road safety, improving communication, cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders, enhancing enforcement, and improving road safety information in support of research and evaluation.

However, RSS 2015 also differs from RSV 2010 and has adopted a more ‘holistic' or ‘safer systems' approach to reducing fatalities and serious injuries. Strategies and interventions guiding improvements for road users, road infrastructure and vehicles will be housed in a matrix of best practices that jurisdictions can adopt to address key road safety challenges or risk groups. These strategies would also help to decrease deaths and serious injuries due to traffic collisions in Canada.

The framework of best practices will be updated regularly as new, successful strategies are adapted from other countries or as existing strategies are evaluated and their effectiveness established. Hard targets will not be adopted at the national level, but may be adopted by provinces/territories if they wish. National progress will be measured using rate-based measures, such as deaths per number of registered vehicles or per number of people.

This flexibility is one of the key attributes of RSS 2015. The new strategy allows all jurisdictions to tailor and implement road safety strategies that are deemed feasible and that target their most critical road safety challenges. Jurisdictions will be primarily accountable within their respective operating environments. It is anticipated that customized strategies will be introduced to support unique road safety requirements and will collectively contribute to national reductions in fatalities and serious injuries.

Road Safety Regulations

Canada continues working to align its motor vehicle regulations as much as possible with those of the U.S. while also considering specific Canadian conditions. Thirty-three amendments were published from 2007–2011, with two more planned for 2012, many of which align Canadian requirements more closely with those of the United States. In 2011, harmonization activities received added impetus and profile due to the Regulatory Cooperation Council announced by Prime Minster Harper and President Obama in February 2011.

In support of global harmonization of motor vehicle safety regulations, Canadian regulations also include the option to follow several United Nations regulations for alternative testing requirements. Transport Canada supports and participates in the development of harmonized vehicle regulations though the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, which includes the development of Global Technical Regulations ( GTR s). To date, Transport Canada has aligned with GTR s addressing door locks and door retention components, motorcycle brake systems and electronic stability control systems.

Impaired driving

Of fatally injured drivers tested for alcohol in 2009, 37.6% had a positive blood alcohol concentration ( BAC ). While this is lower than the 38.7% in 2008, it was slightly higher than 2005's 36.5%. Of fatally injured drivers with a positive BAC in 2009, 14.1% had alcohol levels between 1 and 80 mg%; 26.1% had levels between 80 and 160 mg%; and 59.8% had alcohol levels greater than 160 mg%—more than twice the legal limit. Of all fatally injured drivers who were tested, 22.5% had a BAC that was more than twice the legal limit (160 mg%), 9.8% were between 80 and 160 mg%, and 5.3% were between 1 and 80 mg%. The balance (62.4%) did not test positive for alcohol (see Table S9).

One proven initiative authorized under the Criminal Code of Canada is the use of aftermarket breath alcohol ignition interlocks for convicted impaired drivers, which require drivers to provide a breath sample before being able to start their vehicles. If the convicted driver's alcohol level is above a preset limit, the vehicle will not start. These safety devices, purchased and installed at the vehicle owner's expense, allow convicted impaired drivers to use their vehicles, while ensuring, while ensuring they do not drive while impaired. Interlocks allow convicted individuals mobility while reducing the risk they may otherwise pose to the general road-using public.

Research has shown that these devices reduce the incidence of alcohol-impaired driving. All provinces now have alcohol interlock programs where drivers must first serve a driving suspension and qualify under provincial rules. A voluntary national standard has been created for ignition interlock technology, and more jurisdictions are introducing programs to increase its use; for example, before issuing a criminal conviction or for low (i.e., below criminal code level) BAC drivers. Preliminary research suggests that these programs can significantly reduce impaired driving by previously convicted drivers.

Seat belt usage

Seat belts save thousands of lives every year. An RSV 2010 sub-target was for at least 95% of Canadians to wear seat belts consistently. In 2009, 33.6% of fatally injured drivers and 36.3% of fatally injured passengers were not wearing seat belts (see Addendum Table S8). In comparison, 14.5% of seriously injured drivers and 23.3% of seriously injured passengers were not wearing seat belts.31

Transport Canada conducted an observational survey of daytime seat belt use in rural communities across Canada in September 2009, followed by a similar survey in urban communities in September 2010. The surveys showed that seat belt use was lower in rural areas (92%) than urban communities (95.8%). The rate was lower among occupants of light trucks (about 92%) than occupants of passenger cars (about 95%); it was also lower among male drivers (94.3%) than female drivers (96%). Only 93% of drivers aged 24 and under wore a seat belt, compared with 94.8% of drivers 25–49 and 96% of those 50 and over.32

Child seats

Regulated child safety seat requirements have been updated to reflect the changing size and weight of children in Canada. The major changes include:

  • a new testing requirement using a three-point seat belt to secure car seats in vehicles;
  • adopting most U.S. testing parameters for dynamic testing of child seats;
  • changing the definition of an infant from 9 kg to 10 kg (seat is designed to be rear-facing only);
  • increasing the maximum allowable weight limit of child seats from 22 kg to 30 kg;
  • introducing dynamic testing requirements for booster seats; and
  • allowing harnesses to be certified for use on school buses by special needs children.

Defects and recalls

Motor vehicle and vehicle-related equipment recalls have increased over the past few decades. The industry and economy have evolved significantly over this time span, and while not appropriate to attribute this increase to a single reason, the following are contributing factors:

  • more makes of vehicles are being imported and sold;
  • more models of vehicles are being sold;
  • increased technological complexity of vehicles;
  • greater international commerce in vehicles with new entrants; and
  • greater public awareness and web-based communications have made it easier and more convenient for the public to contact manufacturers and Transport Canada to report potential defects.

Driver distraction

Driving is a complex task that requires a high level of attention from the driver. In-vehicle information, entertainment and telecommunication devices are becoming increasingly popular with drivers, and vehicles are now often equipped with ports or wireless connections for portable devices. This connectivity allows drivers to make phones calls, send email and text messages, play music, navigate, and access the Internet, as well as use a growing number of other applications. Consequently, distracted driving is an emerging road safety issue.

All 12 jurisdictions except Nunavut now have specific distracted driving legislation restricting the use of hand-held devices and other common distracters. Observational surveys are also being undertaken at the jurisdictional level to monitor the use of these technologies while driving.

Transport Canada has an ongoing driver distraction research program to better understand the safety implications of new technologies and to identify distraction countermeasures. The department is also working with the provinces and territories and other road safety stakeholders nationally and internationally to develop standards to reduce driver distraction.

Motor Vehicle Test Centre

Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Test Centre ( MVTC ), located in Blainville, Quebec, has been modernized and expanded to allow motor coaches and school buses to be crash-tested, and moving-car-to-moving-car and rollover collisions to be carried out. Completed in March 2011, the modernized MVTC is the only vehicle test facility of its kind in North America and the only comprehensive vehicle safety test facility in Canada.

The project was funded through the Government of Canada's 2009 Economic Action Plan and represents the largest single investment in the MVTC since its construction more than 30 years ago. The modernization includes:

  • a new 200-metre acceleration test track coupled with a 100-metre parallel track for high-speed and moving-car-to-moving-car frontal/rear crash testing at varying offsets;
  • a new 100-metre test track installed at a 90-degree angle to the main track to carry out moving-car-to-moving-car perpendicular side impact crash tests and rollovers;
  • a 100-metre adjustable track for moving-car-to-moving-car oblique side impact crash tests; and
  • a new pedestrian laboratory to evaluate methods of protecting pedestrians from motorized vehicles.

The new facility is anticipated to play a major role in advancing motor vehicle safety and promoting the development of expertise in occupant and pedestrian safety.

Road construction

Roundabouts have been recognized as an effective safety measure on roads around the world. Although fairly new in Canada, roundabouts are already proving their many benefits, such as eliminating left-hand turns in front of oncoming traffic, decreasing collisions, slowing vehicles within the intersection, improving traffic flow, and reducing vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. Canada—through the Transportation Association of Canada—has developed national rules of the road as well as uniform signs and pavement markings for single and multi-lane roundabouts. The department has also developed two educational brochures to inform the public on how roundabouts are to be used by motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.


Transport Canada, arrive alive DRIVE SOBER®, the Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving, and Student Life Education Company Inc. partnered to update the award-winning iDRIVE Road Stories DVD. Produced in 2009, the original 23-minute video was created to educate youth about safe and sober driving. In February-March 2011, the iDRIVE video was updated as a national version. The updated version features the latest information about new measures (provincial and federal) to address these issues, and was distributed to 3,400 high schools across Canada, with the exception of Ontario and Quebec. Ontario schools were offered the updated version or were welcome to use the existing version; Quebec schools had their own version of a similar video. More than 40 road safety partners, including driving schools, and the P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth) Program have incorporated the iDRIVE video into their programs.

In partnership with the Canadian Automobile Association ( CAA ) and Canadian Tire, Transport Canada launched the Winter Driving Campaign in November 2011 to encourage Canadians to get their vehicles ready for winter and practice safe winter driving techniques.

Another outreach program developed by Transport Canada and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators is the Leave the Phone Alone Campaign. Through web-based tools, it encourages drivers to pledge to not use hand-held devices while driving. More than 1,100 people to date have pledged to leave the phone alone while driving. The campaign has also been incorporated into a variety of educational programs across Canada, including driving schools, P.A.R.T.Y Program and by the City of Ottawa.

The Transportation Association of Canada ( TAC )

TAC is a national association with a mission to promote the provision of safe, secure, efficient, effective and environmentally and financially sustainable transportation services in support of Canada's social and economic goals. TAC is primarily focused on roadways and their strategic linkages and inter-relationships with other components of the transportation system. TAC has recently developed a number of guides and best practices that practitioners across Canada can use to improve Canadian road safety. These include guidelines for using chevron alignment signs; recommended practices for LED-embedded traffic signs, guidelines for selecting traffic sign sheeting that meets minimum retro-reflectivity levels; guidelines for the network screening of collision-prone locations; a winter road condition terminology guide to report driving conditions consistently; a synthesis of practices for median design; and uniform signs and pavement markings for multi-lane roundabouts.

The United Nations—with Canada as a sponsoring nation—has declared 2011–2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety (the Decade). Its objective is to stabilize and then reduce the forecasted level of road traffic fatalities around the world, which are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death (1.9 million by 2020 compared to 1.3 million today). For the Decade—which was launched May 11, 2011—member states, international agencies, civil society organizations, businesses and community leaders have been called upon to create action plans to help achieve the objective. A Global Plan has been created to help member nations develop individual action plans. The Global Plan has five pillars: road safety management; safer roads and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users; and post-crash response.

Transport Canada will champion the Decade and in consultation with other federal departments, provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental road safety organizations, will compile the related Canadian initiatives as a national plan. It has also developed a plan for its own initiatives to support the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

9.7 Security

The Government of Canada has taken a collaborative approach with road operators, including urban transit and intercity bussing to improve their security cultures. Transport Canada has been working with urban transit and intercity bus industry partners and their respective associations (e.g., Canadian Urban Transit Association ( CUTA ) and Motor Coach Canada ( MCC )) through the Steering Committee for Rail and Urban Transit Security Standards Development to develop Codes of Practice ( COP s) and other guidance materials on key security activities. Recently developed security COP s include: Conducting Security Risk Assessments; Developing and Maintaining Security Plans; Conducting Security Exercises; Employee Training and Awareness; and a draft COP on Developing Public Security Awareness Campaigns.

Transport Canada has also established an Intelligence Network for the sharing of security intelligence and incident reporting among railway, urban transit and intercity bus operators. It has also been conducting a risk-based analysis to determine the best approach for enhancing security for the transportation of dangerous goods by road, using a multi-phased policy development process that includes an environmental scan, consultations and information gathering, a strategic security risk assessment and an evaluation of potential policy options. The process includes consultations with industry, other federal government departments and provincial representatives. Transport Canada will continue its efforts to conduct this risk-based analysis by further engaging and consulting industry stakeholders and other federal government departments and provincial representatives.

The effects of 9/11 and the changes to customs processes that followed have continued to shape the Canada-U.S. border. Despite efforts to improve movement across the border, the perception remains that challenges continue to hamper trade and travel. Several approaches were taken over the years in response.

In February 2011, Canada and the U.S. issued a declaration entitled “Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness”. Key areas of cooperation include: addressing threats early; trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs; integrated cross-border law enforcement; and critical infrastructure and cyber-security. A joint action plan was released on December 7, 2011, setting out 32 initiatives aimed at achieving the vision. It could also change the way security impacts operators. For instance, an integrated cargo security strategy will be developed, including common standards for screening inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America. Under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice,” this same cargo, transported by rail or truck, would then be given accelerated passage across the land border. The strategy will also work toward streamlining and simplifying border and security processes to place less of a burden on industry.



  1. The 2010 National Highway System Condition Report, prepared jointly by the federal/provincial/territorial NHS Review Task Force on behalf of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety.
  2. Service abandonment means bus routes that were discontinued.
  3. The year for which the latest data is available.
  5. For 2011, the value is the third-quarter GDP annualized and seasonally adjusted.
  6. GDP from SC # 15-001; employment from SC # 72-002.
  7. Owner-operators working under contract for for-hire carriers are not reported as employees. Actual employment (employees plus owner-operators) may show a different trend, depending on the owner-operator numbers.
  8. Tonne-km data from Transport Canada's 2009 Annual Report Addendum, Table RO17.
  9. There is no intercity bus service in Nunavut.
  10. The 2010 National Highway System Condition Report prepared jointly by the federal/provincial/territorial NHS Task Force on behalf of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety.
  11. Core routes are a subset of the National Highway System and pertain to key interprovincial and international corridor routes, including links to intermodal facilities or major border crossings.
  12. Statistics Canada (2008). Canada-U.S Border Survey.
  13. This includes tires and car seats, although the number of recalls for these products is very low.
  14. For-hire means hauling freight for compensation.
  15. Companies hauling their own freight.
  16. Individuals who own and operate their own trucks and operate as independent for-hire truckers, hauling trailers for other carriers or directly for a shipper.
  17. Couriers operate trucks for delivering same-day, overnight or later letters and parcels.
  18. see CANSIM tables 403-0008 to 403-0015 at
  19. In 2008, 2009 and 2011.
  20. Engine retarder or driveline retarder (hydraulic type) with minimum rated retardation horsepower capacity; a maximum gross weight-to-power ratio of 150 kg per one horsepower; adequate gearing and powering of the power unit to be able to maintain speeds on level ground; and an anti-lock braking ( ABS ) system.
  21. Operating restrictions in or through urban areas during rush hours, at the start and end of long weekends.
  22. The term “segment” refers to the main activity of a company. The industry can also be looked at in terms of lines of activities. So a company can be in more than one line of bus activities (urban transit, school bus, intercity operations, charter and tour operations); its segment will be its main line of activity, i.e., the one generating the largest share of its total revenues.
  23. Statistics Canada. and
  24. Section 6 of the Canada Customs Act (R.S.C. 1985.c.1 [2nd Supp.]).
  25. TransLink (2010). Moving the World: Record numbers ride transit in Olympic Week 1. 20 Feb 2010.
  26. City of Vancouver (2010). 2010 Winter Games: Transportation. 17 November 2010.
  27. Greater Vancouver Regional District (2007). 2006 Census Bulletin #1: Population and Dwelling Counts.
  28. Metro Vancouver (2009). Metro Vancouver 2040–Backgrounder. Metro Vancouver Residential Growth Projections. [ PDF Version, 2400kb]
  29. The percentage of citizens living in urban areas has continued to steadily increase. In the early years of the 19th century, 37% of Canada's population lived in urban areas, while in 2006, 80% of Canada's population lived in urbanized areas. Source: Statistics Canada (2006). Census Snapshot of Canada — Urbanization. (
  30. Transport Canada (2009). Updates to Costs of Congestion Studies – Final Report.
  31. More details are available at
  32. More information on these surveys, vehicle restraints and safety studies and programs are available at