An example: highway vs subway, case of Montréal
|Décarie highway, 3 lanes per direction in a trench located in a densely inhabited section of Montréal|
|Décarie highway on a map of Montréal, connecting the A-40 to the north to A-20 to the south|
- The highway is 6,4 km long
- With 3 lanes per direction, it offers a passenger capacity of roughly 7 000 to 8 000 people per hour per direction
- Its cost was 370 million 1967 Canadian dollars, or about 60 million dollars per km
- In 2014 dollars, the cost would be 2,6 billion dollars, or 405 million dollars per km
- If the highway had to be funded entirely through tolls, the toll would likely have had to have been around 35 cents per km, or around 60 cents per mile (in 2014 dollars).
|The original three lines of the Montréal Metro, opened for the '67 Expo, versus the current system|
- The original network was 25 km long, including a tunnel under the St. Lawrence River.
- Each train has up to 9 16-meter-long wagons (54 feet) with a capacity of 100 people per wagon, 150 in crush conditions, and a frequency of up to one train per 3 minutes. That is a capacity between 18 000 and 29 000 people per hour per direction.
- This original network cost 214 million dollars in 1967 Canadian currency, or 8,5 million dollars per km
- In 2014 terms, that is 1,5 billion dollars, or about 60 million dollars per km
So, to sum up...
- The highway was 7 times more expensive per km than the subway to build
- The highway passenger capacity was 3 to 4 times less than the subway
- So overall, the highway is 20 to 30 times more expensive to build per capacity-km
OK, it was more expensive, but is it worth it? Did it create wealth?
- They cut off parts of the city from the rest of it, making it harder to get on the other side for residents, which makes living in the area less desirable.
- They create a lot of nuisance through increased traffic and visual and aerial pollution, making the areas even less desirable.
- They suck out traffic from existing healthy commercial arterials, which eliminates pass-by trips to the businesses on these arterials, weakening them and even leading to their closure.
- As people require cars to use the highway, any business or service that is not in a car-oriented area will not benefit from them, so older urban areas with few parking spots cannot cater to highway users. Buildings have to be destroyed to make way for parking lots in order to attract highway users, but doing so eliminates a lot of business and services, reducing the area's vitality and the amount of wealth in them.
- Since the highway is so fast, proximity matters less, and as greenfield developments are always cheaper than urban infill development or redevelopment, it makes housing and businesses in sprawl cheaper and more convenient in comparison to urban development, so development money flees to undeveloped areas, leading to under-investment in existing areas and their decline.
|An elevated highway in Nagoya, tall and narrow to minimize impacts on the area... but with a toll around 1$ per mile traveled|