The Finnish Road Administration announced on Thursday that the traffic volumes on main roads between June and August were down by 2.3 per cent compared with the same period last year. An equally large statistical drop was recorded during the recession years of the 1990s.
Road data expert Reijo Prokkola from the Administration points out that towards the end of August the summer’s slump seems to have turned to an upswing. During September a return to 2-4% annual growth in volume has been restored in places.
When comparing the yearly traffic volume from September 2007 to August 2008 to the same period a year earlier, a 0.6% increase is observed.
The nationwide statistics have been combined based on data from around 200 automatic measuring points. In a 24-hour period the system can record up to four million observations.
In June-August the car and van traffic was reduced by 2.4 per cent and lorry and bus traffic by 0.8 per cent.
In Prokkala’s view the summer’s statistics are explained by the motorists’ behaviour during the holiday season. The fuel price hike and rainy summer caused some citizens to stay at home or to resort to public transport.
For example on Lapland main roads the car and van traffic volume slumped by nearly eight per cent in July.
The Finnish Bus and Coach Association reports that some of those who previously commuted by private cars have switched to buses. In many urban areas the passenger figures have grown by 2-7 per cent from the beginning of the year.
The Finnish Transport and Logistics (SKAL), in turn, announces that its member companies have pulled through the summer’s monetary crisis satisfactorily. There are no notable signs of slowing down in the economic life in Finland.
Economist Harri Hietala from the Federation of Finnish Enterprises points out that the development of Finland’s main road networks lags behind the growing traffic volumes.
“Funding for road maintenance should immediately be raised by more than EUR 100 million, in order that the condition of highways might be kept at a resonable level and the observed gap could be narrowed down.”