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Sustainable transportation on the rise across the GTA, census finds

Last Updated Dec 4, 2017 at 8:06 am EST

Although the car still reigns supreme, more people across the GTA are turning to sustainable transportation for their commute into work.

According to recent data from Statistics Canada, 42.5 per cent of commuters living in the GTA commonly used a form of sustainable transportation as their main mode of commuting. That number is largely due to  the high proportion of people taking public transit to work.

The new data also shows that both biking and walking to work has increased since 2011 – when the last data was collected.

“No matter where you are in Canada, pretty much, car is the most popular. However it’s been going down in the GTA over the past 20 years,” Jason Gilmore with Statistics Canada explained.

“Fewer than 70 per cent of people who live in the GTA are commuting by car, and public transit has been increasing over time, as has walking and cycling.”

Gilmore said increase infrastructure has helped these form of sustainable transportation rise in population.

“Obviously there’s not only expansions in public transit but also, in a lot of urban areas, increased opportunities for cycling within the city … same with walking paths.”

But regardless of how you get to work in the GTA, it’s taking you longer.

“(The average commute) was 32.8 minutes in 2011 and it’s 34 minutes in 2016,” Gilmore explained.

That’s eight minutes longer than the average commute time in Canada, which is just over 26 minutes.

Gilmore said part of the reason behind that is the vast size of the GTA and immense about of people who live in the area, compared to the rest of the country.

“It’s a challenge getting around the region. The region has the most people in Canada and there are about a thousand people living in every square kilometre of the GTA,” he said.

The average car commute in the GTA is just over 24 minutes and for people using public transit it’s almost 45 minutes.

While that may seem like a huge difference, Gilmore pointed out that commute time was calculated from the time you leave your house to the time you walk into work — not specifically how long you’re on public transit.

“If you’re driving you just get out of your house or apartment, you get into your car and you go and usually you can park somewhere close to where you work,” he said.

“For public transit you don’t always have that luxury. You usually have to walk or drive to your starting point, get on your public transit … and then your final stop may not be exactly where your work is so you might have to walk to your place of work.”

Gilmore said the data collected can now be used by urban planners to improve their communities.

“They are our biggest users and I think they’ll be very excited to dig into this data in the coming days and months.”


Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor at U of T, explains how the City of Toronto is doing when it comes to transportation planning.