by Marc Lostracco
Boredom, frustration, and stress: that’s the everyday routine of an average commuter in Toronto on his or her extremely long and irritating journey to and from work. According to numbers in a recently released survey by Statistics Canada, the commuting situation in Toronto is the worst in the whole country. Toronto commuters spend significantly more time travelling to and from their jobs, both by car and public transportation, than commuters in all other Canadian cities.
The survey shows that Torontonians sitting behind the wheel spend 29 minutes commuting to work in the GTA, and those using public transportation spend 49 minutes, on average. However, the situation in Toronto isn’t much worse compared to Montrealers and Vancouverites when considering transportation overall. The average commute time in Toronto (33 minutes) is only two minutes longer than in Montreal (31 minutes) and only three minutes longer than in Vancouver (30 minutes). According to the study, Toronto (29 per cent) beats Montreal (26 per cent) and Vancouver (25 per cent) also in the number of full-time workers who get stuck in traffic jams every day of the week.
The Toronto Board of Trade suggests that the future of Torontonian commuters isn’t very bright. Nowadays, 70 per cent of Torontonian travel to work by car, and this number is expected to grow by 1 million more cars in 20 years, resulting in a furious road rage on GTA roads.
Possible Solution is Active Transportation
The solution to this problem lies in alternative means of transportation. Toronto commuters shouldn’t rely so much on their cars. However, this won’t happen if it takes more time to travel by public transportation than by car. The first step towards smooth traffic in Toronto is therefore a transformation of public transportation into a more attractive and faster alternative to driving.
Another hot issue should be the promotion of active transportation: cycling and walking. Respondents commuting to their work by foot or bikes unfortunately account for only a small fraction of commuters. This healthy lifestyle was, together with public transportation, greatly exceeded by drivers. It’s sad that only 28.8 per cent of Torontonians walk, bike, or take public transit to work.
We should realize that the impact of commuting problems is more complex than it seems. 36 per cent of the full-time workers whose commute to work takes longer than 45 minutes consider most days quite or extremely stressful. By contrast, only 23 per cent of those whose travel to work takes less than 15 minutes had these feelings. This is very often reflected in the health status of workers. It’s a warning to us all that 43 per cent of full-time workers with worse health conditions characterized their days as very stressful.