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Client Story: CAA turns to CPCS for data-driven solutions to traffic congestion

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The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), one of Canada’s most trusted brands, relies on CPCS to shed light on transportation and road issues that impact its 6.4 million members nationwide. 

  • CAA uses rich and incisive transportation insights for its advocacy work
  • CAA calls on CPCS to tell evidence-based stories impacting Canadian citizens 
  • CPCS has delivered three impactful transportation studies to CAA so far (traffic bottlenecks, reducing congestion and costs of poor roads)

“CPCS provides trustworthy data and analyses that allows us to pursue our public advocacy work with confidence,” says CAA’s Vice President of Public Affairs Ian Jack, when asked to describe the professional relationship between one of the largest consumer-based organizations in Canada and CPCS. “We don’t have the budget for in-house infrastructure experts, but CPCS more than fills that need.”

CAA is a leading provider of emergency roadside assistance, travel, insurance and member rewards. It’s also an authoritative voice on issues related to road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.

So when CAA sought to benchmark traffic congestion in Canadian cities and explore how much it costs Canadians in time, money and emissions, it called on CPCS.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for CAA to partner with a firm that’s practical and sensible,” says Ian. “We need work that stands up to government and expert scrutiny, but also accessible to the media and the layperson.”

“We’ve found CPCS adept at navigating between these two worlds.”

CPCS lifts CAA with rigorous science in plain language

CAA has formed an enduring partnership with CPCS. Together, they seek to understand and explore ways to reduce traffic congestion in Canada.

Ian highlights that “CPCS has friendly experts who are easy to work with.”

The CAA spokesperson is referring to Peter Harrison, a senior transportation consultant at CPCS, and Veiko Parming, member of the firm’s Transportation Advisory team.

“CPCS produces credible work. They excel at crafting sharp syntheses to inform the public about transportation and congestion.” 

Above all, Ian values the consulting firm’s in-depth understanding of the transportation field and its ability to turn complex concepts into easy-to-follow recommendations.

“Rigorous science is not enough if no one can make sense of it,” he shares. “CPCS knows the public landscape well and…can actually write in plain English and French.”

While CPCS has its fair share of academics, it knows that clients want the insights without the jargon. 

Three successful transportation studies driving change

The first collaboration between CAA and CPCS was a deep dive into the state of traffic congestion in Canada.

While studies on city-level congestion are not new, Grinding to a Halt was the first Canadian study to identify and compare congestion across specific highway stretches. The joint effort was innovative, combining GPS data with vehicle volume data.

Striking findings include:

  • Traffic bottlenecks can increase commute time by as much as 50 per cent
  • These bottlenecks waste 287 million litres of fuel per year, generating an extra 58 million kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2)

The highly publicized study stimulated further research. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce used it in its own congestion report in 2017. 

“CPCS showcased its modelling and analysis chops in our first project,” recounts Ian.

“In the second project, CPCS showed that can come up with solutions for congestion in Canada.”

CPCS worked with CAA to create a complete toolkit aptly named Congestion Solutions to help policymakers alleviate congestion. Some of these solutions are well known, such as improving road infrastructure and investing in urban transit. Others, like promoting active transportation, are more progressive.

“One of the more memorable solutions was making traffic lights more efficient,” recalls Ian. “This is a good example of a simple fix that punches above its weight. Our whole point was that there are ways to reduce congestion that don’t have a multi-billion-dollar price tag.”

“CPCS’s work illustrated this perfectly,” he continues.  

CPCS’s work for CAA led to another study in 2021. The costs of poor roads in Canada reveals how much it’s costing  Canadian drivers on average in terms of car repairs and maintenance. The answer? Around $126 per year.

The quest to solve traffic congestion in Canada continues

Joined by shared values, CPCS and CAA are now poised to tackle congestion for good in Canada.

Is your organization also trying to solve infrastructure problems with comprehensive – yet pragmatic – solutions?

Contact us.

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