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Canadians find transit slower, less convenient than driving: StatCan

If you ride a bus or train to work in Metro Vancouver, chances are you spend more time commuting than your neighbour who drives a car.

Riders of public transit spent an average of 48 minutes commuting to work in 2010, compared to 25 minutes for those who drove or were a passenger of a private vehicle, according to a national survey released by Statistics Canada today.

More than eight-in-ten Canadians say they commuted by car, about one-in-ten took public transit and just six per cent say they walked or rode a bicycle, according to the report.

The average "round-trip commute," which includes side trips like picking up groceries or a child from school, totaled 74 minutes for Vancouverites. That's seven minutes shorter than round-trip commute times reported in Toronto, but still higher than the national average of 65 minutes.

Regardless of regional differences, average commute times were higher in 2010 than in the past 10 years.

"The average round-trip commuting time has increased: it was 63 minutes in 2005, 59 minutes in 1998 and 54 minutes in 1992," the report reads.

Statistics Canada finds that Canadians say public transit takes longer and offers less convenience than traveling by car.

"In 2010, in the six largest metropolitan areas, car users took an average of 27 minutes to get to work, while public transit users took 44 minutes," reads the report.

"Slightly less than half (47 per cent) of those who had tried public transit felt that it was a convenient way to get to work" reads the report. Yet 85 per cent of Canadians surveyed who commute by car say they've never tried public transit before.

"Of the 10.6 million workers who commuted by car, 15 per cent, or 1.6 million, had tried using public transit to get to work."

The difference in time spent commuting may not be entirely a result of distance, the report states. Commuting by transit often involves walking to a bus stop or train station and waiting for connections.

Long commute times, says Statistics Canada, can also effect human health. "Workers who experienced traffic congestion more frequently and workers who had longer commuting times were more likely to rate most days as quite or extremely stressful," reads the report.

Canadians who spend more time commuting also say they are less satisfied with their work-family balance, compared to those who spend less time getting to and from work.

Tyler Harbottle is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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