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|Human Activity and the Environment: Annual Statistics
Section I : Transportation in Canada
Transportation provides people and businesses with services that are fundamental to our standard of living and well-being. The transportation system connects communities by moving people and goods and, in an increasingly globalized world, it is vital to trade and competitiveness.
In Canada, we demand much from transportation, with our geographically dispersed yet highly urbanized population and heavy dependence on trade.
Our transportation system has more kilometres of roads per person than almost any other nation. It also includes: 10 major international airports and 300 smaller ones; 72,093 km of operating railroad tracks; and more than 300 commercial ports and harbours, which provide access to three oceans and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. 1, 2
Our rising population and continued growth in trade are pushing up transport-related energy usage as never before. We rank near the top in per capita use of fossil fuels, and we pay a price: from greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution to contamination of water and soil.
Large portions of land are devoted to transportation and wildlife habitat is fragmented by its infrastructure. Transportation's effects on the environment are felt locally and globally.
Governments and businesses are running programs and developing new techniques and technologies to help reduce transportation’s impact on the environment. Individuals also play a role.
Transportation: an economic driver
The 'transportation industries'—those that use aircraft, trucks, trains, ships or other equipment to provide transportation services to clients for a fee—accounted for 3.7% of Canada's economic output as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000. While this makes up a significant share of economic activity, recent research shows that transportation services contribute far more to the economy if we look beyond the 'for-hire' transportation industry. 3 This is because many non-transportation industries, from forestry and logging to wholesale trade, produce their own transportation services by operating fleets of trucks, buses or ships. When the value of these 'in- house' transportation services is added to the mix, the contribution of transportation to GDP jumps to 6.3%. This places transportation's contribution ahead of retail trade, construction and the mining, oil and gas industries. The number one occupation among men, according to the 2001 census, was truck driver.
When we talk about 'transportation,' the use of private vehicles to get around in our daily lives is also a significant component of the overall picture.
Moving people: how Canadians get around
Canadians must cover a lot of ground—both to cover the distance between far-flung urban centres and to move around within them. As a result, they are very dependent on passenger transportation (text table 1.1 ).
As in most developed countries, Canadians are very reliant on the automobile. From the postwar era onwards, vehicle ownership rates were spurred on by relatively low prices for vehicles and gasoline, increased spending on expressways and road systems, and socioeconomic factors like higher household incomes, smaller-sized households, and more women entering the workforce. 4 In 1951 there were nearly 5 people for every vehicle registered in Canada. By the mid-1980’s this number had fallen to less than two persons per vehicle (chart 1.1 ).
As the number of vehicles continued to climb, consumer tastes shifted away from the family sedan towards light trucks—vans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickups. From 2000 to 2005, the number of light trucks on Canadian roads grew by more than one-quarter, while the number of cars and station wagons fell by 1%. In 2005, vans, SUVs and pickups made up 42% of the 18 million light vehicles 5 on the road in Canada. These vehicles tend to use more fuel than cars and station wagons (text table 1.2 ).
Growing rates of urbanization
While our widespread dependence on the automobile can be attributed to many factors, suburban expansion may be one of the most important. In 2001, 80% of the Canadian population lived in an urban area compared to just under 76% two decades earlier. For the majority of these urban areas, population growth has been fastest in the suburban fringe.
At the same time, employment growth in the suburbs has been on the rise. According to the Census, between 1996 and 2001, for each new job created within a 5 km radius of a city core, nearly five were created in the suburbs.
As more people and jobs have become 'suburbanized,' commuting patterns have become more complex and diffuse. The suburb-to-city-core commuting route, the one that is most easily supported by traditional public transit systems, has increasingly given way to suburb-to-suburb commutes. Even reverse daily commuting—from city core to suburb—is becoming more common.
Canadians living or working in more distant suburbs are much more likely to drive to work than to use the bus or some other means (text table 1.3 ).
According to the General Social Survey of time use, the proportion of workers in Canada who used the bus or subway to get to and from work remained steady at about 12% between 1992 and 2005. In large urban areas, where service is more accessible to commuters, this proportion was higher—20% of workers in Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas used the bus or subway for part or all of their commute in 1992 and 2005. 6
Whether they use public transit or travel by automobile, workers are spending more time commuting to and from work. Average commute time varies from region to region, but for Canada as a whole, commuters spent an average of 63 minutes getting to work and back again in 2005, compared to 59 minutes in 1998 and 54 minutes in 1992. 7
As with the movement of people, demand for freight transportation has grown steadily in recent decades and continues to rise—especially the demand for truck transport.
In Canada, more goods are shipped by water (443 million tonnes in 2003) and rail (338 million tonnes) than by any other means; the lion's share of coal, lumber and other heavy bulk goods is carried by these behemoths of transport. For-hire trucking followed closely in third place, carrying 305 million tonnes (chart 1.2 ). Air cargo ranked a distant fourth, carrying 663 thousand tonnes 8 of mainly high-value goods in 2003.
Although trucking’s share takes third place in weight terms, its importance in the overall scheme of freight transportation has grown substantially. From 1990 to 2003, the amount of freight carried by the for-hire trucking industry grew nearly three times faster (75%) than all other modes combined (up a collective 27% over the same period).
What's more, these numbers do not include goods shipped by 'private trucking'—trucking fleets owned or leased by companies outside of the trucking industry who look after their own shipping—or by small and local for-hire carriers. In economic output terms—as measured by GDP—private trucking and delivery services accounted for more than half (58%) of trucking's overall contribution to GDP in 2000. 9
Trucking and trade
Spurred on by trade agreements—from the Auto Pact (1966) to NAFTA (1994)—Canada's trade with the US grew by 191% from 1990 to 2005. 10 As bilateral trading partners go, Canada and the US rank first in the world.
For the for-hire trucking industry, this has meant an ever-increasing demand for freight movement over the border. On a tonne-kilometre basis (taking weight of shipments and distance traveled into account) truck traffic moving across the Canada-US border grew five times faster than domestic traffic, between 1990 and 2003 (chart 1.3 ).
A booming 'scheduled' economy
The ability to deliver goods door-to-door—in sync with customers' production and distribution needs—has made trucking a highly valued service for the scheduled economy. The 'just-in-time' delivery of freight, where parts and products are scheduled to arrive as they are needed, helps firms stay leaner and more competitive by reducing the costs of carrying large inventories. 11 From 1992 to 2005, manufacturers were able to reduce inventories as a share of shipments by 15%, 12 thanks in part to more frequent deliveries by truck.
Fuelling the economy
Growing demand for both passenger and freight transportation continues to push up demand for gasoline and diesel fuel in Canada. From 1990 to 2004, the volume of fuel purchased at the pump grew by more than 20%. Over the same period, growing demand for trucking (particularly for the services of heavy trucks) helped push up fuel consumption by road transport and urban transit by more than 70%. While most retail pump sales are made to individuals, some commercial vehicles including taxis and fleet vehicles also purchase retail fuel (text table 1.4 ).
While overall fuel consumption by the transportation industry continues to rise, the 'intensity' with which transport industries are using energy has tended to fall over time. Put another way, when comparing energy use to economic output, these industries are using less and less energy for each thousand dollars of real gross domestic product in transportation services (chart 1.4 ).
From urban sprawl and gridlock to air pollution from high-flying jets, the transportation choices we make every day affect the environment.
Significant environmental effects result from the use of fossil fuels. Transportation consumed 31% of all energy used in Canada in 2004, the second largest user after industry (mining, manufacturing, forestry, and construction). 13
Paving over land for highways and parking lots, introducing invasive species (such as zebra mussels in the Great Lakes) and throwing out old tires and used motor oil are other ways transportation can affect the environment (text table 1.5 ).
The air we breathe
A significant portion of regional air pollution results from transportation activities. In Canada, the major air pollutants—known as 'criteria air contaminants' (CAC)—are monitored by the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network at over 150 stations in 55 cities across the country. (Text box Criteria air contaminants.)
Transportation is a major emitter of three of these contaminants: nearly three-quarters of the carbon monoxide (CO), more than one-half of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than one-quarter of the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in 2004 14 (text table 1.6 ).
The good news is that, over time, transportation's output of CAC has declined. The introduction of catalytic converters, cleaner burning fuels and higher fuel efficiency standards have all contributed to the decrease. For example, NOx emissions from transportation were 19% lower in 2004 than in 1990. In the same period, CO and VOC emissions each dropped 37% (chart 1.5 and text table 1.6 ).
However, these emissions continue to be a concern because of their potential environmental and human health impacts. For example, NOx and VOC are precursors to the formation of ground level ozone—a key component of smog. NOx is also a major contributor to acid rain. Small amounts of CO can slow human response and perception, and prolonged exposure to low levels—or brief exposure to high concentrations—can cause unconsciousness and death.
While the bulk of CAC emissions come from road sources, not all types of vehicles contribute equally to the mix. Heavy-duty vehicles (including tractor trailers, for example) were responsible for 25% of transportation NOx emissions in 2004. Light trucks—vans, SUVs and pickups—contributed 22% of transportation VOC and 31% of transportation CO emissions; light automobiles—cars and station wagons—were accountable for 23% of VOC and 30% of CO.
Living in a greenhouse
Naturally occurring greenhouse gases (GHG) help regulate the planet's climate by trapping solar energy, which warms the earth’s surface. However, since industrialization, GHG emissions from human activities have amplified this natural process, and scientists predict that this trend will continue. 15
Transportation is a major source of GHG emissions. In 2004, transportation accounted for 26% of total GHG emissions in Canada and 28% of emissions growth since 1990. Greenhouse gases emitted by transportation include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). 16
From 1990 to 2004, GHG emissions from transportation rose 30%, or almost 45 megatonnes. Our growing dependence on road vehicles to move people and goods was the main contributor to the increase (text table 1.7 ). Eighty-six percent of the increase in transportation's emissions came from road vehicles, in particular light trucks and heavy-duty vehicles (chart 1.6 ).
SUVs, pickups and vans have grown in popularity. From 2000 to 2005, the fleet of light automobiles fell 1%, while the number of light trucks rose 26%, according to the Canadian Vehicle Survey. 17 Generally, light trucks are heavier and have greater horsepower than cars. In 2005, the average fuel efficiency for cars in the Canadian vehicle fleet was 9.1 L/100 km; for pickups, 14.0 L/100 km; and for vans, 11.5 L/100 km. 18
The share of freight moved by road relative to other types of transportation is also affecting GHG emissions. Just-in-time delivery—in lieu of carrying large inventories—means trucks are making more trips. The number of tractor trailers registered was 32% larger in 2005 than in 2000; the number of straight trucks was up 12%. 19
Transportation affects our land resources in many ways, including the loss of farmland, wetlands and animal habitat to urban sprawl, highway networks and airports. Soil contamination can result from road spills and from waste and litter that is improperly disposed of.
Transportation also consumes many raw materials—from fossil fuels to metals and minerals. In 2003, for example, 245 million tonnes of sand and gravel were mined across Canada, 70% of which was used for road construction, ice control and concrete and asphalt production. 20
Roads and sprawl
With so much distance to cover, Canada's road network comprises more than 1.4 million kilometres of highways and roads (text table 1.8 ), enough to circle the Earth 35 times. In cities, streets and parking lots alone can take up as much as 35% to 50% of available land. 21
Car culture has helped facilitate lower-density development in suburbs and surrounding countryside. With larger lot sizes, longer distances to amenities, meandering roads and fewer public transit options, the car is in some cases the only way to get around. As depicted in figure 1.1 , the prevalence of short-stop streets and cul-de-sacs characteristic of suburban development contrasts sharply with the more easily navigable grid pattern typical of a downtown core.
Huge areas are cleared to develop new residential areas and create transportation corridors: once developed, this land is unlikely to be used for other purposes, such as agriculture. Since many cities started off as farming communities, development and the ensuing road-building often occur on our limited supply of good quality farmland. Forty-six percent of urban land occupies land formerly considered dependable for agriculture. 22 By 2001, 40,400 square kilometres of Canada’s farmland had been lost to other uses, up from 20,000 square kilometres in 1951. Of this total, 29% was used for transportation and utilities, including roads, railways, airports and utility transmission lines (text table 1.9 ).
Wildlife and habitat
Besides consuming land, transportation infrastructure can have an impact on wildlife. Wide roads and busy highways can act as a barrier, limiting movement of small and large mammals. At the same time, road and rail corridors can facilitate the spread of plants and wildlife into new areas. Wildlife habitat can also be affected by train derailments and spills.
Animal kills are another way that transportation affects wildlife; however, available data are limited. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia estimates that 2% of annual vehicle collisions in the province involve wildlife. 23 Collisions involving large animals, such as bear, deer and moose can be particularly dangerous. In Banff National Park in Alberta, a project on reducing road impacts on wildlife uses fencing, gates, underpasses and overpasses to limit animal mortality on the highway while allowing animals to cross. 24
The construction of airports and subsequent air traffic can disrupt habitat and result in bird kills. To lessen this danger airports modify habitat, use sirens, cannons, lights and other equipment to discourage birds from approaching. Vancouver International Airport, which is located along a major Pacific bird flyway, reported that control officers killed 1,060 birds in 2005, and another 222 birds were killed in bird strikes with aircraft. 25
The risk of soil contamination from transportation and transportation infrastructure is also a concern. Corroding underground gas tanks can leak fuel into surrounding soil. Wood preservation chemicals can leach from railway ties. According to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, 2,704 tonnes of ethylene glycol, which is commonly used to de-ice airplanes, was released onto land in 2004. 26
Oil, gasoline, diesel, antifreeze, coolants and other substances regularly spill or leak onto roads. As they wear and break down, engines, tires and brakes produce pollutants. This mix of chemicals can run off onto surrounding roadsides. Studies show that concentrations of heavy metals are higher near heavily travelled roads. 27
Canadian producers shipped 13.8 million tonnes of salt in 2005, 28 much of it used to de-ice roads. It is estimated that close to 5 million tonnes of road salt are used in Canada each year. 29 Some environmental contamination risks of road salt are increased salinity of soils, damage to vegetation, contamination of ground and surface water, and fish mortality.
An indirect way that transportation can contaminate soil is through acid deposition, which occurs when emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides fall to the ground in dry form or as acid rain, fog or snow.
Ships and boats releasing ballast water in ports and waterways can introduce alien species (for example, zebra mussels) and contaminate water resources. Transportation infrastructure—roads, railways, airports, ports and canals—can also modify water systems and impact their ecology.
Dredging to allow the passage of larger ships removes bottom sediments, some of which may contain contaminants, and deposits them in a different location. Along with dredging, construction of ports, marinas and canals affects habitat, water flow and, ultimately, biodiversity. Eroded sediment from dirt and gravel roads can reach streams reducing fish spawning.
Impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, affect water resources as well. Natural absorption of rainfall is impossible, so the groundwater under the surface cannot be replenished. Instead, the water runs off quickly along the surface or into storm sewer systems. As a result, streams may receive more water than they are able to accommodate, resulting in flooding. Runoff from roads and parking lots also contains pollutants, such as pulverized rubber, oils and lubricants, and salt in winter months. Some of these contaminants make their way into local water systems. 30
Release of hazardous substances
When we think of spills, we tend to think of catastrophic events such as the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, which occurred off the coast of Alaska. However, transportation-related spills happen every day on a much smaller scale.
Recreational boats, for example, are also a potential source of water pollution. Spilled fuel and oil, garbage dumped overboard and the use of chlorine bleach and phosphate soaps to clean boats can all affect water and aquatic life. A little can go a long way: a single litre of gasoline can make up to 1 million litres of water unfit for human consumption. 31
Introduction of invasive species
The number one method by which alien invasive species enter Canadian waters is the release of ballast water. It is estimated that at least one-third of the 140 alien invasive species living in the Great Lakes were introduced through discharged ballast water. 32 A full ballast tank is essential for a ship's stability when it is carrying little or no cargo. When cargo is loaded, the ballast water is discharged—along with any organisms living in it.
The zebra mussel—one of the most notorious and problematic invasive species in Canada—was introduced via discharged ballast water. The mussel has achieved densities as great as 300,000 per m2 in the Great Lakes, where it thrives free of its natural predators. 33 This Caspian Sea native was accidentally introduced in 1988.
Release of ballast water is not the only means by which invasive species have been introduced to Canadian waters. Plant and animal life transported on the exterior of ships and boats and movement through canals and other waterways are also potential conduits for invasive species.
Being held up in a traffic jam is frustrating: road construction, bad weather and traffic accidents can all cause congestion. However, where we choose to live, work and play are also contributing factors. As Canadians drive more, traffic congestion is a growing problem in urban areas. It is also a major concern from an environmental standpoint.
Most people use their cars at peak times—during the morning and evening rush hours. In 2005, Canadians drove their cars and trucks 28% more on weekdays than on Saturdays or Sundays, according to the Canadian Vehicle Survey. 34
Idling and slow-moving vehicles caught in stop-and-go traffic use more fuel and, as a result, release more emissions than they would if their trips were made in less time. A recent study by Transport Canada, which looked at the costs of urban traffic congestion for Canada’s nine largest urban areas, estimated that approximately one-half billion litres of fuel is wasted annually because of congestion; this amounts to between 1.2 to 1.4 Mt of GHG emissions, according to the study. The majority of congestion occurs in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, Canada’s largest urban areas. 35
Balancing the need to move people and goods with environmental considerations is a major challenge. Government and industry are responding with innovative programs, projects and new technologies. Individuals' choices and behaviours are also key to reducing the environmental impacts of transportation.
The responsibilities of each level of government are explained in the following text box (Government responsibilities).
Transportation demand management is a set of strategies to make existing transportation systems more efficient, off-setting or delaying the need for infrastructure investments. Building cities and roads in ways that reduce congestion and bring homes, work and services closer together reduces the distance we need to travel on a daily basis. Flexible hours in the workplace can mute the effect of morning and evening rush hours as the transportation network is used more evenly throughout the day. Telework eliminates the need for commuting altogether. Ride-sharing and public transit take people out of single-occupant vehicles, as can disincentives such as parking fees, road tolls and gasoline taxes.
Some specific projects are highlighted in the following text box (Selected transportation projects).
Whether it involves building new infrastructure, expanding on current infrastructure or simply making better use of what already exists, infrastructure improvements can help reduce congestion in cities and bottlenecks in inter-city corridors. Improvements in infrastructure design and use can result in reduced environmental impacts.
Relieving pressure at ports
Trade with Asia has grown in recent years and is expected to continue doing so. From 1990 to 2005 Canada's exports to China increased by 315% and imports from China ballooned by over 2,000%. 36 Canada's west coast—particularly the Port of Vancouver and Fraser Port—receives a large portion of Asian freight destined for North America.
As the amount of freight being handled increases, west coast infrastructure has come under strain, resulting in congestion. To relieve the pressure, key congestion areas in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland have been targeted for infrastructure improvements. Replacing swing bridges and building overpasses to separate road and rail traffic along the route to the port in Delta will reduce travel times and increase reliability. This will make rail operations more efficient, improve the flow of local automobile traffic and reduce vehicle idling. 37
As well, expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert will provide a new destination for ships arriving in North America from Asia, helping to reduce congestion. Once complete, the port will be able to receive the largest of container vessels and will be the second largest handling facility on the Canadian west coast. Road and rail links will enable transport to destinations across Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Getting cars off the road
Many commuters prefer driving alone to carpooling or public transit. Transportation demand management projects attempt to make best use of existing transportation infrastructure and invest in alternatives to private vehicles, making public transit or carpooling a more appealing option.
Although it may not feel like it at rush hour, our highways are capable of handling more people if they are used more efficiently. Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec allow buses, emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying at least two people to make use of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. HOV lanes provide faster travel when other lanes are congested and slow. HOV lanes encourage commuters to carpool or take transit, by making their trip to work much faster. By making better use of existing infrastructure, HOV lanes move more people through congested areas more efficiently.
Buses and trains are the major components of transit systems in Canada's largest cities. The first subway line in Toronto opened in 1952, while the Montreal metro opened in 1966. Light rail transit is used in Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. Residents of the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver regions can use commuter rail, which connects suburbs with the central city. 38
Urban transit and commuter passenger trips have grown in recent years (chart 1.7 ). Passenger trips increased by an average of 3.2% per year from 2001 to 2004.
The new transit pass tax credit introduced in July 2006 is one initiative that may help get cars off the road. 39 Some transit authorities are also introducing improved amenities and vehicles as well as real time schedule information to improve services and increase ridership.
Urban planning is another tool used to improve the efficiency of transportation systems. Planning that encourages high-density, mixed-use communities, rather than low-density, single-use communities, can help reduce our reliance on transportation, particularly private vehicle use.
Many cities and regions across the country are embracing smart growth principles, which emphasize more efficient land use and transportation patterns (text table 1.10 ).
Smart growth can be applied to urban, suburban and rural areas. Shorter distances between homes, work, shopping and other services make it easier for people to walk, bike or take the bus.
In urban areas, smart growth promotes pedestrian activity, public transit options, infill and redevelopment; in suburbs, smart growth features medium-density town centres; in rural areas, village centres and main streets.
Ontario and British Columbia have articulated the need to minimize sprawl and direct growth to built-up areas. 40, 41 Vancouver, for example, has a long history of smart growth approaches, including mixing housing, retail and office space downtown, developing mixed-use residential/ commercial uses along transit lines, and allowing secondary suites throughout single-family neighbourhoods. 42
Smart growth is not restricted to large urban centres. In 1998, Okotoks, one of several fast-growing rural towns in the Calgary metropolitan area, developed the Sustainable Okotoks Municipal Development plan, which focuses on land use, mixed residential housing, transportation systems, open space and urban forest. 43
Both industry and government are working to develop new technologies to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation. Many of these projects focus on fuel efficiency improvements and alternative fuels. Industry is also looking for ways to curb or prevent pollution in the production of transportation equipment.
Because road vehicles are responsible for more air pollution and GHG emissions than any other mode of transport, most of the work government and industry are doing to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation has focused on road transport.
The oil crisis of the 1970s prompted the federal government to introduce fuel efficiency standards in 1976. These voluntary company average fuel consumption (CAFC) standards were aligned with the U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.
Canada's fleet of light automobiles and light trucks continues to meet CAFC standards (chart 1.8 ), but since the 1980s the standards have not reduced the overall fuel consumption. Most SUVs, vans and pickups fall in the light truck category, whose CAFC standards are less stringent. In recent years, SUVs, vans and pickups have made up a larger share of the fleet.
After purchase, proper vehicle maintenance and driving habits help reduce the environmental impacts of road transportation. Two mandatory inspection and maintenance programs are currently operating in Canada: Ontario's Drive Clean (1999) and British Columbia's AirCare (1992). These programs control emissions in two of the most heavily populated areas of Canada: Southern Ontario (from Windsor to Ottawa) and British Columbia's Lower Fraser Valley (from Lions Bay to Chilliwack). Vehicles five years and older in Ontario and four years and older in B.C. must be tested every second year—they must pass the test before registration can be renewed.
Several models of hybrid-electric vehicles have been on the market since 2000, with more to come in the next few years. Provincial incentives to encourage purchases of these vehicles include sales tax rebates in Ontario 44 and Quebec. 45
Fuel cells, alternative low-carbon fuels, advanced gasoline and diesel engines, advanced powertrains and lightweight materials are just a few of the technologies being looked at by Transport Canada's Advanced Technology Vehicles Program. The program aims to reduce air emissions from on-road vehicles through the introduction of environmentally-friendly vehicles.
These advanced technologies could be vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 Mt by 2010—the emissions target set out in a 2005 memorandum of understanding between the federal government and the auto industry. 46
New regulations for heavy-duty trucks will require that all new trucks be much less polluting. These regulations, being phased-in from 2004 through 2010, aim to reduce 90% of particulate matter and 95% of NOx emissions. 47
Several federal programs aim to improve freight transportation. The Freight Efficiency Program encourages rail, marine and air freight carriers to use technology to reduce GHG emissions. FleetSmart offers free, practical advice on energy-efficient vehicles and business practices.
Emission-reduction technologies can also be retrofitted on long-life vehicles, such as buses. For example, Environment Canada has collaborated with the Canadian Urban Transit Association to install diesel oxidation catalysts on board more than 330 urban buses in 15 Canadian cities. 48
Fuels emit air pollutants when burned. To reduce the emissions of some of these smog-forming air pollutants, the federal government has established fuel quality regulations. For example, all diesel fuel sold in Canada must, as of October 2006, meet the new 15 ppm sulphur content standard. The new standard is 97% lower than the previous allowable level of 500 ppm. 49 Interest in alternatives to traditional fuels has grown in recent years (text table 1.11 ). Many alternative fuels are cleaner than today’s gasoline and diesel, and could improve air quality if used widely.
Some alternative fuels are already commercially available. A blended fuel containing 10% ethanol is available at many service stations throughout Canada. It can be used in all vehicles manufactured in 1980 or later. Testing of biodiesel—a diesel substitute made at least in part from organic products—is under way. Natural gas and propane vehicles are commercially available and conventional vehicles can be converted to use these fuels.
Vehicles powered by fuel cells—highly efficient energy- conversion devices that utilize hydrogen—are not yet commercially available, in part because of the lack of a hydrogen distribution network required for refuelling. The British Columbia Hydrogen Highway Project aims to build a hydrogen highway from Vancouver International Airport to Whistler in time for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. The demonstration project hopes to speed up the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cells. Project participants include 11 technology providers, six federal and provincial bodies and 12 companies and public agencies who are sponsoring or taking part in projects. 50
Across the country, municipalities are testing alternative fuels for public transit fleets. For example, Saskatoon Transit Services and the Société de transport de Montréal have tested biodiesel for bus fleets. The goal of these studies was to assess how biodiesel works in buses in cold weather, and how it compares with diesel for emissions, fuel economy and engine wear.
The entire ferry and bus fleet in Halifax began using a biodiesel mixture of waste fish oil and diesel in October, 2004. The fuel, known as B-20, is 20% biofuel made with fish oil and 80% regular diesel fuel. Tests have shown that B-20 fuel cuts particulate matter emissions by 18% compared with regular diesel, CO2 by 16% and unburned hydrocarbons by 11%.
Canadian companies are investing to protect the environment. Their spending is tracked by Statistics Canada's Survey of Environmental Protection Expenditures. These expenditures are made to reduce the environmental impacts of their manufacturing processes.
The transportation equipment manufacturing industry posted operating expenses of $202 million for environmental protection in 2002, and spent an additional $59 million on capital projects. The largest proportions were devoted to pollution abatement and control processes, waste management and sewerage services, and pollution prevention processes (text table 1.12 ).
Intelligent transportation systems
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) apply computers, communications, control and sensor technology, and management strategies to transportation systems, resulting in safer, more efficient and less congested transportation systems.
In the Toronto region, the COMPASS freeway traffic management system uses traffic monitors on the highway system and complex computer algorithms to detect and manage traffic incidents. System operators assess traffic situations and manage the response. Drivers receive real-time information from overhead signs, a website, media advisories and still-camera or video images. Using this ITS-generated information, drivers can plan their trips better and avoid contributing to traffic congestion.
The system helps curb traffic congestion and improve transportation efficiency. In addition to saving lives, time, money and energy, ITS can also help the environment by reducing fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.
Each of us plays a role in helping to reduce the impacts of transportation: taking public transit, cycling or walking, using fuel-efficient vehicles and buying locally-produced goods can all help curb the environmental effects of transportation.
The bulk of Canadian households' spending on transportation goes towards buying, leasing, renting and operating private vehicles. In 2004, households spent on average 2% of their total transportation budget on public transit options such as city or commuter buses, subways, streetcars and commuter trains (text table 1.13 ). Meanwhile, transit ridership has increased to close to 1.7 billion trips per year (chart 1.7 ).
Canadians now have more environmentally friendly options when choosing a new vehicle, thanks to new automotive technologies and recent product developments such as hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars.
Whether motivated by rising gasoline prices or environmental awareness, consumers are buying more and more of these cars. 51