By Alyssa Noel, 26/8/2011
Montreal drivers wait out a traffic jam. Photograph by: ALLEN MCINNIS THE GAZETTE, The Gazette
If you find yourself behind the wheel stuck in traffic on your drive home from work tonight, you’re not alone.
A new Statistics Canada survey on commuting revealed that 25 per cent of full-time workers in the greater Vancouver area who drive get stuck in traffic jams every day. They fare only slightly better than their counterparts in Montreal, where 26 per cent of workers are stuck behind the wheel, and Toronto, at 29 per cent.
On average across the country, workers who walk or cycle to work spend about 14 minutes on their commute. Transit riders eat up an average of 44 minutes a day, while drivers fall somewhere in between, the report says.
“I would say that’s fairly accurate,” said Erin O’Melinn, executive director for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, about the time it takes to commute by bike. “People will self-select whether they want to ride a bike based on the distance.”
The average Vancouver bike commuter will travel between five and eight km, she added.
Around six per cent of Canadians who get to work by bike or on their own two feet report feeling dissatisfied with their commute, compared to transit riders and drivers, at 23 per cent and 18 per cent.
Ken Hardie, spokesman for Translink, said the survey doesn’t take into account the fact that Vancouver is much bigger in size than Toronto or Montreal.
“We have a very far-flung region and some of the commutes people are taking are going to be considerably longer than in those locations,” he said. “The other thing is any report that looks at metro Vancouver as one whole will give you average results, but in this case, the average is a tiny bird in the middle of a long wingspan. There will be some commutes that are much higher than 30 minutes and some will be much lower, depending on where you live.”
Transit by the numbers:
In 2010, 82 per cent of Canadians drove to work while only 12 per cent took public transit and 6 per cent walked or cycled. According to a Statistics Canada survey, of the 10.6 million who commuted by car, 15 per cent had tried taking transit. About 47 per cent of people of the people who had hopped on a bus or train said it was a convenient way to get to work.
It took Canadians an average of 26 minutes to get to work last year, whether they were on a bike, in a bus or driving a car. That number was bumped up to 30 minutes in the country’s six biggest cities. In smaller metropolitan areas, commutes averaged around 25 minutes.
Residents in central Vancouver take about 27 minutes to get to their offices while those in neighbouring communities needed about 31 minutes to get to work.
People who have a longer commute are more stressed than those with short treks to the office. About one in four workers are caught in traffic at least three days a week, the report says. Out of those people, 38 per cent said most days were “quite or extremely” stressful.