Toronto, Vancouver among major Canadian cities with long commutes: StatsCan

Long commuting times aren't enticing Canadians out of their cars. If anything, evidence commutes take longer on transit is keeping people behind the wheel.

That's the conclusion suggested by a Statistics Canada survey that finds, not surprisingly, commuters in major cities face the longest treks to work. What may be surprising is that transit strap-hangers can face commutes up to twice as long as their car-driving counterparts.

The data, from StatsCan's 2010 General Social Survey, found most car commuters who had never used public transit believed it was inconvenient. The numbers suggest they're right.

In Toronto, for instance, the average one-way commute time by car was 29 minutes, compared with 49 minutes for public transit. In Montreal, it's 30 minutes versus 39 minutes, and for Vancouver the gap is 25 minutes by car and 48 by transit.

The average difference for the six-largest Canadian metropolitan areas between car and transit was 17 minutes, and for mid-sized cities, transit trips took 23 minutes longer. This despite the fact most transit users travel shorter distances, according to the survey.

Urban planners who are pushing for higher-density residential development, fewer, more expensive parking spaces and congestion fees to discourage car use will not be happy with the survey's results.

The vast majority of commuters - 85 per cent - are satisfied with their commuting times and transit users are more likely to be dissatisfied, the report found. And those who needed 45 minutes or more to get to work are more likely to find their commute stressful.

The Toronto Star's report on the survey noted a report by the Toronto Board of Trade warned last spring the Big Smoke faces "carmageddon" in 20 years, when the addition of another million cars will raise the average commute time to almost two hours.

A survey by the job site Workopolis found the cost to Canadians of commuting to work is $269 a month, and that workers spend 186 hours a year on their commute, according to the Calgary Herald.

The survey found 38 per cent of Canadians work from home at least a few days per month, and suggests companies should be doing more to encourage it. Seven out of 10 respondents said they turned down a prospective job because of potentially long commute.

(Reuters Photo)