Census Updates on Commuting Reported by CBC

The CBC website has a report about the drop in the percentage of people commuting by transit according to the recent census. In this piece, I am erroneously identified as a member of Rocket Riders. Although I have provided suggestions and advice to that group from time to time, I do not speak for them and my comments should not be construed as an official pronouncement by that group.

Here are my remarks. For the complete text, go to the CBC site.

Toronto transit advocate Steve Munro said the 2006 findings are disappointing because they show there is little change in the number of people taking public transit.

“I’m frankly surprised that’s it’s only gone down by a small amount as it has,” said Munro, a member of the Rocket Riders, a citizen advocacy group dedicated to public transit issues in the Greater Toronto Area.

Munro said part of the problem is much of the transit system in Toronto is oriented towards downtown, including GO Transit and the Toronto Transit Commission with its network of subways, buses and streetcars.

He said travel patterns show people are commuting in all different directions these days.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges for transportation planners,” Munro said.

“It’s an everywhere-to-everywhere kind of demand pattern, and that’s very hard to serve without building quite a large network of transit lines to make everywhere-to-everywhere commuting by transit possible.”

Munro said convincing people who live in areas outside the downtown core to get out of their cars will take large investments in transit in the GTA.

“We’re a long way away from having a really strong network in the outer suburbs to really make a change in the way people think about commuting in those areas.”

A stronger network will also reap environmental and economic benefits, he said.

For individual families, if the transit system can serve their needs, the cost of getting to work is lower. For cities, if the transit system moves people around efficiently, there is less stress on the roads, Munro added.

“The road system in the suburbs is full. There is a general economic benefit to having a better transit service. It means families don’t need a car for every member of the family to get around.”