April 16 2013

Cross-border Transportation: Moving between Canada and the United States

I travel to the United States. Like most Canadian cities, Montreal sits just one hour from the American border, and just six hours (by car) from New York City. However, it is not all that easy a trek to make. One can, of course, drive. However, as I am not a car-owner, my remaining options are bus, train, carpool, or plane.

I don’t fly as it is pricey and environmentally-unfriendly. The bus costs about $80 each way and takes 8 hours (or more, if you get stuck at the border). When you take the bus overnight, you always have to get up in the middle of the night to cross the border and for a 40-minute layover at the most unpleasant bus station I have ever been to: Albany, NY. Pro: overnight travel. Con: poor sleep.

Greyhound Bus

I have also gone to NYC by train. While train travel in Europe has advanced to high speed rail, a six-hour drive becomes a whopping 11 hours in the train. Pros: inexpensive (about $60 each way), comfortable, Wi-Fi and a beautiful (Adirondacks) view.  Cons: Time-consuming and only one departure per day (in the morning). You must have two full days to travel, which makes going to NYC for the weekend tricky.

Train

Lastly, you can get there in someone else’s car. I have carpooled with friends, but I have also taken the so-called “Magic Bus”. When a friend of mine suggested I take the “Magic Bus” from Montreal to New York City, I was skeptical. However, he told me it was the fastest, least expensive mode of transportation between the two cities. Intrigued, I gave it a try. It was indeed quick (7 hours), inexpensive ($50) and comfortable.

It remains that the most convenient way to travel between Canada and the United States is by car or plane. The urban design of both countries was conceived around extensive highway infrastructure, and airlines have many flight departures between large cities each day. Rail infrastructure is negligible, timeworn, and largely dismantled or abandoned.

What can we do to structure our environment around more sustainable modes of travel and away from single-occupancy vehicle commutes and air travel over short distances?

Credits: Photos from Wikicommons. Data linked to sources.

Devon Paige Willis

Devon Paige Willis is a native Montrealer and recent graduate of McGill University where she did her B.A. in Environment and Political Science. She discovered a passion for urban and transportation planning in her final year, during which time she attended UC Berkeley’s [IN]City introductory urban planning program and completed her honours thesis about cycling in Montreal, specifically measuring bikeability and understanding what affects cyclist satisfaction. She will pursue a Master of Urban Studies called 4Cities starting in September 2013. The Masters takes place in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid and focus on European Urban Planning. She will be focusing on sustainable transportation and is especially interested in urban planning and transportation in suburban environments. She has her own urban planning blog at iliveinthesuburbs.wordpress.com.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 9:44 am and is filed under Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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