Quebec is going to change: our transportation habits will be upset

Le Québec va changer: nos habitudes de transport seront bouleversées

The transports are already shaken by the current crisis. What changes Quebecers will bring their habits when the COVID-19 will be behind them? Increase of car use and e-commerce, new developments in the airports? Experts make the point.

The transit will suffer

The transit risk of suffering the effects of the pandemic, due to the close contact it requires, believe the specialists. Already, the traffic in the transport networks has decreased considerably. “It’s going to be a challenge for public transport, believes Jean Dubé. I don’t know how people will react. But as it is a mode which is not hyper popular, I do not think that all of a sudden, it’s going to be the shock to popularize it. I don’t know up to what point it will lead to a drop in modal share [of the bus] or just cause a slight temporary setback.” In Trajectory Québec, there is hope that the recovery will be quick, but it is agreed that the cities will need to make an effort of communication to explain the benefits of public transportation. The additional effort in the maintenance will also need to be maintained, according to François Pépin.

Sanitary measures increased in the airports

September 11 has changed the ways of travel. This will be the case also with the COVID-19, according to professor Pascale Marcotte. The health measures are likely to be completely revised in airports and aircraft. “It is a shock greater than after September 11. It’s going to take a lot of time to restart the machine.” The CEO of the Association québécoise du transport aérien, Jean-Marc Dufour, also believes that major changes will occur. “This is a turning point.” One can think of taking a temperature before boarding, the disinfection more strict between each flight, to the distancing of the seats in the aircraft, or to reduce the number of pieces of luggage allowed in the cabin.

The influence of online commerce

After weeks of consumption patterns completely disrupted, what will be the relationship of Quebec with the online business? It is a question without answer for the moment, says Fanny Racicot-Tremblay, from the ÉNAP. “A big unknown remains the impact of online shopping on the increase in trucking, the largest contributor to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec, and the transport of goods in general. What will be the purchasing power of consumers? Is it that they are going to buy local? How can we ensure the transportation of goods with a lower carbon footprint?” asks she. According to it, “the current crisis, as dramatic as it may be […], it offers the opportunity for individuals to reflect on our transportation demand and governments must act in consistency with plans and policies of sustainable mobility and the electrification of transport”.

The winning car

The personal car will probably become the preferred mode of transportation, think of several specialists in transportation. “The price of oil will continue to be low. It will promote the self in the short and medium term,” said Jean Mercier, professor at the Université Laval.

An opinion shared by his colleague Jean Dubé, who believes that those who hesitated to embark in the transit will instead choose to take their car “because they are afraid of the spread of the virus”. François Pépin, Trajectory, Quebec, warns, however, that this rush towards the auto could have the perverse effect of intensifying the congestion.

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