Network congestion: Truckers no longer want anything to do with Montreal

The return of Montreal’s traditional traffic jams after confinement calm, coupled with major works like those at the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Tunnel, are infuriating truckers who no longer want to get there.

• Also read: Completely closed, even on a Saturday

“I transport cement powder. We’re leaving Joliette and taking it to our customers on the south coast. On average, I can spend an hour and even an hour and a half just in this section,” laments Olivier Sénéchal, truck driver for a company in Repentigny, during an interview with The newspaper.

Oliver Senechal.  truckers

With kind approval

Oliver Senechal. truckers

Normally he can make three trips a day, but with the current jobs he only makes two.

“I get paid by the hour, but I know some who get paid after the trip and some don’t want to go to Montreal anymore because they’re losing money.”

“Everyone wastes too much time,” complains one of them on Truck Stop Québec’s Facebook page.

“This is exactly what I wear at night for,” adds another.

“On average, I lose between 2 and 3 hours a day,” says one trucker.

From another time

When The newspaper happened last Thursday afternoon, the traffic jams stretched over several kilometers to the Anjou motorway junction.

“We live with it every day,” says Alain Bédard, head of TFI International, the country’s largest freight forwarding company.

“It is certain that Montreal’s road network is an old network that has been underfunded. We end up with a 1950s Metropolitan Boulevard and a 1960s Tunnel, and they have to invest large sums of money to bring it up to date,” he analyses.

Waiting times in traffic jams and increased fuel costs have a major impact on transport costs.

“We need to raise the bill for the customer who passes it on to consumers,” he said.

According to Benoît Therrien of Truck Stop Québec, very soon, transport companies could charge even more to translate the time lost in Montreal.

“Companies could charge at least $100 more per delivery to cover their costs related to overcharging the 25. And as the work intensifies, the bill will be even higher,” he says.

Montreal is poorly thought out

“Montreal is one of the worst cities in North America when it comes to deliveries. I know some who are very discouraged when they have to go to Saint-Laurent, for example,” says Benoît Therrien.

Alain Bédard is less categorical but admits Montreal is more deadlocked than Toronto.

“They made different choices there, but you have to remember that Montreal is an island, so it’s not easy to get there. It’s like Manhattan, New York,” he says.

In addition, according to the TomTom ranking, a benchmark in this area, Montreal ranks seventh in North America and second among the most congested Canadian cities after Vancouver, but ahead of Toronto, which has a population almost twice that size.

In total, 65 hours were lost in traffic on the Montreal network in 2021. This number is likely to increase this year with the increase in construction sites.

“I dare not imagine… seriously, it’s going to be hell in this corner,” says Olivier Sénéchal.

bypass city

For Truck Stop Québec’s Benoît Therrien, most American cities have belts of freeways that allow trucks to bypass downtown areas.

“Plus, the camps are on the outskirts there, so traffic isn’t impeded in the big centers, allowing for greater flow.”

In the meantime, there is a risk that young people will continue to be discouraged from becoming truck drivers.

“If you have a guy leaving Quebec and going to Toronto and he’s stuck in a traffic jam in Montreal for two hours, he’s a long way from getting his business done if he’s being paid by the mile,” explains Alain Bedard.

Traffic, the pandemic that has put drivers under pressure, a change in mentality… several reasons why the profession is losing ground.

“It’s becoming less popular as a job and creating a labor shortage in our industry. It’s quite a problem,” continues Mr. Bédard.

The tunnel brothel

Motorists will have to be patient on Autoroute 25 over the next few months as work on the 25 intensifies.

In principle, the work should be completed in 2024, but the Ministry of Transport is already checking the schedule.

The teams are working to repair the southbound Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Bridge Tunnel tube and rebuild the Highway 25 roadway in the same direction.

“Travel time on Highway 25 is 3 to 6 times longer than normal […] depending on the days of the week, the hours and of course the incidents and breakdowns,” confirms the Ministry.

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