Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transportation Stats

I stumbled upon a report called Commuting in America III which was put out by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. The report looks at the long term trends in commuting patterns in the US since the 1960’s. I encourage you to read the whole report, but there are a few highlights worth mentioning. Travel patterns have changed from suburban to central city commuting to more suburban to suburban commuting. Also, immigrants are more likely to take other forms of transportation besides a single-occupancy vehicle. Looking at the US on the whole, the mode share of the single-occupancy vehicles continue to rise while transit has a mode share of about 4.6%. Though it is not all doom and gloom. The report points out that large Metro areas have transit usage far higher than the national average at about 12%
Just as vehicle users do not drive unless there are roads, transit users cannot ride unless service is provided.
This got me thinking about Canada and lead to the very useful Place of Work Highlight Tables from the 2006 Census. Canada is a very urbanized country with 51% of commuters living in Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa – Gatineau, Edmonton, Québec City, and Winnipeg metro areas. Transit mode share in these regions represent 16% of all trips on average. I looked at the smaller communities and noticed many had high walking mode share. While a policy of improving and expanding public transit is essential for our large Canadian centres, a national policy should also be developed to encourage walking and other forms of active transportation like cycling in smaller areas. Of course all non-driver forms of transportation are dependent on land-use, so a strong local commitment to smart growth communities is also required. That could be aided by senior government funding programs that support infrastructure for smart growth communities.

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