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Report: Vancouver, Toronto rank poorly in commuting times

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – If you think you spend a lot of time in the car, bus or train heading to and from work, you’re right.  But it could be worse–you could be in Toronto.

Research from the Toronto Board of Trade shows it takes Metro Vancouver commuters an average of 67 minutes to arrive on the job.  That ranks 14th longest in an international survey of 19 cities, with Toronto ranking last at 80 minutes.  It is worth noting that Toronto’s metro area covers a larger area, and includes over 5.5 million people, compared to Metro Vancouver’s 2.2 million (2008 figures).

Tops on the commuting time list is Barcelona, where it takes people an average of just 48 minutes to get to work.  Seattle was 4th at 55 minutes.  Los Angeles, despite a long standing legend for long commutes, ranked 6th at just 56 minutes.  

The study also looked at the percentage of workers who leave their cars at home.  Only 25 per cent of workers in Metro Vancouver take other forms of transportation, compared to 28 per cent in the Metro Toronto area.

The rankings (and minutes per commute):

1. Barcelona  (48.4)
2. Dallas  (53.0)
3. Milan  (53.4)
4. Seattle  (55.5)
5. Boston  (55.8)
6. Los Angeles  (56.1)
7. San Francisco  (57.4)
8. Chicago  (61.4)
9. Berlin  (63.2)
10. Halifax  (65.0)
11. Sydney  (66.0)
12. Madrid  (66.1)
13. Calgary  (67.0)
14. Vancouver  (67.0)
15. New York  (68.1)
16. Stockholm  (70.0)
17. London  (74.0)
18. Montreal  (76.0)
19. Toronto  (80.0)

The complete report is available through the Toronto Board of Trade website.

SFU Urban Studies professor Anthony Perl says the easiest way to cut out the commute is to use your feet. “If you can live in a place where you actually walk to work, you’ll live longer and be a lot happier than spending that time in a car,” says Perl.

He says planners need to stop building bigger freeways to end traffic jams and think about allowing more mixed-used zoning instead.