March 4, 2015 5:52 pm
Updated: March 4, 2015 6:45 pm

Various factors at the root of Halifax traffic woes: expert

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HALIFAX – Ahsan Habib is one of the many drivers around Halifax who has seen his commute time double in the past week amid slippery roads and a continuing onslaught of winter weather.

Habib is the director of the Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory (DalTRAC), which conducts transportation research. He said there are several reasons for the increased congestion on city streets, from snowbanks that narrow the roadway to parked cars that are partially blocking lanes.

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He said there might be another culprit at play — people leaving their homes closer to the same time each morning.

“I suspect there is a narrower peak period than we used to have with good weather,” he said.

Morning peak times usually run from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., but Habib said in bad weather, the timeline shrinks as more drivers depart around the same time. He said it happens because people have to spend time clearing their driveways and vehicles, or in some cases, because they are waiting for road conditions to improve.

Habib said the narrower peak time has created more chokepoints around Halifax and “crippled the entire commute.”

“We really should have to give a very, very deep look on how we should build our transport network more resilient to these kinds of disruptions,” he said, adding he believes the longer commute showcases how vulnerable the city is to change.

Julie Wynn, the SmartTrip co-ordinator with Halifax Transit, said drivers spend an average of about two weeks each year commuting. She believes that could change if employers and employees opt for sustainable commuting, or even no commuting at all.

“If you were working one or two days a week at home and if more and more people were doing that, or not necessarily going into these choke points, there would be less traffic around,” she said.

Wynn said it’s an idea that’s growing in popularity in Halifax, with more organizations adopting it. She hopes that option will help reduce traffic tie-ups in Halifax in the long run.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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