Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – GenevaLunch, like a lot of other businesses in the area, was caught by the massive traffic jam in both directions, between Geneva and Lausanne Wednesday late afternoon. It lasted more than four hours, had traffic moving at a crawl on the autoroute, and side roads anywhere near the highway were also packed with cars and very slow traffic. The cause was an accident at 14:45 near the Coppet exit, caused by an accident: the driver of a car lost control as she passed a semi-trailer truck, heading towards Geneva. She veered to the left, then to the right and the truck driver, trying to avoid her, ended up overturning his vehicle.
The driver of the car was taken to the university hospitals (HUG) in Lausanne with injuries that are not serious, and the other driver was not injured.
It took more than half a dozen fire trucks well over three hours to remove the truck. During that time part of the autoroute was closed.
The problem with getting older is that you remember the “good old days” that might not have been great, but that were better. Ten years ago I commuted daily between Saint Prex, in Vaud, and my office in Geneva. I could count on traffic being bad between 07:30 and 09:00, and 17:00 and 18:45. There were occasional accidents, but an accident that could block all traffic in the area for four hours was truly exceptional.
I’ve watched the impact of growing traffic density, and I think we have now reached the point where the failure to create six lanes where needed, or to provide workable public transport for people who live in the region’s small towns, is costing the Lake Geneva region a fortune. To do a rough calculation, if only one-third of drivers stuck in that 20 km stretch, going both directions, earn an average of CHF80 an hour and there are 165 cars per kilometre (they were bumper to bumper, so I’m allowing a bit more than a metre between them), and they each spent an extra hour on the road, the wasted work time alone costs about CHF176,000. Judging by the number of SUVs and other expensive vehicles the average wage is higher than CHF80. And maybe some of them didn’t lose an hour.
Add in the additional cost of running the cars, lost productivity rather than just wages, not to mention the cost to the environment. Vaud and Geneva need to redo their sums, look at the number of hours lost in traffic jams, which are larger and far more frequent than in the past. They now must convince the powers that be in Bern to add a third rail line and/or follow up the improvement around Morges with a similar system to widen the autoroute where it is most needed, Nyon or Coppet to Versoix, for example.