More people using transit to get to work

More people in Halton are using public transit to get to work, rising to 11% of commuters up from 4% a decade ago.

Oakville has the highest percentage of transit use at 17%, followed by Burlington at 9%, Milton at 8.3% and Halton Hills at 3.6%.

Carpooling, walking and cycling as methods to get to work have decreased in Halton, from 9% in 2006 to 6% in 2016 (carpooling) and from 6% in 2006 to 5% in 2016 (walking, cycling, taxi, other).

Driving to work is still the preferred form of transportation by a long shot: in 2016, 78% of residents drove to work, a slight decrease from 81% in 2006.

Burlington residents also have shorter commute times compared to the rest of Halton, with 60% of residents spending half an hour or less getting to work, compared to 40% for Milton, 47% for Halton Hills, and 48% for Oakville.

This information was provided by Community Development Halton based on an analysis of 2016 Statistics Canada data. You can read more in the Community Lens #134, Journey to Work 2016

For additional information contact or 905.632.1975

My Take:

This information reinforces the need for additional investments in public transit, including over holidays like Christmas and New Years Day, when many residents continue to work in essential services. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to work, but given the distances most people travel to get to work, cycling and walking aren’t viable options for most residents. So the best way to get people out of their vehicles is to have regular, frequent and predictable transit service that gets people where they need to go.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. Copenhagen the jewel of cycling has reported bike ridership is down for the first time in years, The apparent reason for the cycling craze was two long term civil construction projects. New underground pipes & rail improvements that disrupted traffic city wide. now that the projects are winding up people are going back to transit.

    • Have just returned from Florida. St Petes has a trolly service you can rely on one coming by every 15mins $5 and you can ride all day. I never ride the bus here its to confusing the St Petes trolly rocks.

  2. How many people in Burlington take transistor during holidays? Oh yeah nobody – cause it isn’t running! To Brian’s point as well, how many people live AND work in Burlington? A cross municipality/GTHA solution is needed to really get Transit to be feasible for more residents.

  3. Ideally, your take makes the most sense for people like you – who live and work in Burlington. However, how many do? Yes, this city’s public transit is incredibly lacking in so many respects, and needs to be overhauled now – but fostering local economic development (code for jobs) should be a higher priority. BEDC continues to prove it’s not the answer (e.g. too many from City Hall govern it). Let’s hear from candidates in the 2018 election about what they will do to help improve and expand the business sector and tax base. Neighbouring municipalities are eating Burlington’s lunch – and that should be a huge reason for change at City Hall. Okay, I will stop typing and drinking coffee now. Dangerous mix.

    • As always, StatsCan has a stat for that.

      33,060 City of Burlington residents both live and work in the City of Burlington. That makes up 42% of Burlington residents over 15 who have a usual place of work, and represents the same percentage of Burlington workers. More than the 34% who work in Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto combined.

      Increasingly, job creation is linked to quality of life, especially for the young, educated and digitally literate segment, who employers are looking for and who are more entrepreneurial and starting their own businesses. It’s much more about access to talent, which increasingly wants to be connected, not sitting on the QEW in traffic. What used to be our competitive advantage is becoming a disadvantage.

      To compete for jobs today, a transportation system with multiple options has become table stakes.

  4. Chris I believe what we learned from the New Street project is that cyclists did not feel safe riding on the road, so chose to ride on the sidewalk or as numbers which you cannot dispute cycled on the Centennial and Martha multiuse paths. I think your reference to swimming in piranha infested waters is actually how the cyclists felt sharing the road with cars and instead chose the much safer paths running parallel.

    Yes now we have to go back to the drawing board and look at how we can provide safe cycling connections throughout Burlington.

    • That’s exactly what I meant, Eva. The vast majority of people do not feel safe riding in close proximity to motor traffic. Therefore they stick to the paths and they don’t cycle, or let their kids cycle, if they’re going to places on busy roads like New Street.

      The pilot project provided only painted buffers, the lanes disappeared before the intersections right where users needed protection the most, and was not connected to a greater network. So it’s is totally understandable that few people felt emboldened to use it.

      The numbers of people using the paths certainly show that there is considerable latent demand for cycling and walking here in Burlington. And with 31% of Burlington residents commutes being less than 5km in length, there is also considerable opportunity to increase the numbers of people using active transportation, which has a 12% share of 0-5km commutes currently, as well as public transit, which accounts for a 5% share of such commutes.

      Unfortunately the links on StatsCan website don’t lend themselves to copying & pasting, but the link below will allow anyone who’s curious to see where the numbers came from. You can drill down to the City of Burlington level but it’s way down the list.

  5. Cannabis on the road for 2018. Like all know there are more negatives than positives to this new acceptable drug by our “young” Prime Minister. Tax money is the only reason it is becoming a reality!! My question is, some years ago there were requests for investment money into property for a cannabis grow operation. It was to be quite sizeable, and I am wondering if that was something that Council and the Planning Department passed at that time or is sitting ready to move forward with in the coming months?

  6. 210k was spent on the New Street pilot project. What was the return on investment? What did we learn from this? It was reported that there was an increase from 60 cyclists a day pre diet to 80 post but missing from this was the fact these are numbers for two months of the pilot. That is the only data that is available incidentally. Summer months. For the corresponding months cyclists using the multiuse paths on Appleby at Centennial was 385 and 310. This was not reported. Why? We have multiuse paths that are being used by cyclists. Safe protected lanes.

    I fully support investing in public transit and providing incentives for seniors with free or reduced fares in off peak times. This I believe would take cars off the road 12 months of the year. This would be fiscally responsible.

    • What we learned is that a number residents get really worked up about anything that might have even a minor impact on automobile traffic. So instead of spending a few hundred thousand we now have to spend much more to provide good cycling connections in South Burlington. Your petition played a very significant role in ensuring the status quo, even though the impact was limited to a 2 hour stretch in one direction only. The Centennial Path is a great place to ride a bike. But how many places can you actually get to using only the path? Think about your own daily routines. Would these be possible using only the path and the low volume streets nearby? Or would you need to use routes like New Street?

      You can’t judge the need for a bridge by counting the number of people swimming across the piranha infested river. Neither can we judge the need for safe cycling infrastructure by the number of people riding on the road with no protection from car traffic.

      Totally agree with respect to transit. Free buses for seniors and under 12’s is also a good investment.

      • No Chris, we didn’t get worked up about a “minor impact” although I understand you might feel that way because you don’t live here in South Burlington so you and your kids weren’t impacted. The New Street Lane Reductions created gridlock, congestion–primarily for people trying to access New from the surrounding community, increased traffic through residential neighbourhoods. It is one thing to talk about the situation and another to live it! The results were predictable and councillors were warned about the negative impacts but made a false choice to reduce the lanes, primarily in support of the lobbying of the cycling committee.

        The other thing that was confirmed was that cycling was primarily a recreational activity in Burlington; hence the larger numbers using the Centennial Pathway. I think the data presented by MMW also supports this view. “Active transportation” may be an achieveable goal for a large number of residents in a major city where accommodation, work, recreation and shopping are in close proximity but the widespread layout of the City of Burlington shows that active transportation will only have a very minor impact.

        I also support the construction of the cycling tracks on the boulevard on New Street despite the cost–it was always the best option. Such a track will be safe and cater to the many students and recreational cyclists who currently use the sidewalks on New Street. The Lane Reductions, while financially cheaper, imposed large costs on local residents and commuters–it is just poor public policy to impose large costs on an overwhelming majority of the population to benefit such a tiny minority. Of course, when you look at MMW’s data, you have to question whether the cost of this cycling track is a better investment than improved transit. This will be a decision made by an entirely new council and mayor and I suspect, by new city staff.

        • Philip, we obviously don’t agree on the impact of the road diet / automobile lane reduction but that’s in the past so I’m not going to waste time discussing it further. I’m glad to see you support cycle tracks that would create a safe and comfortable option for transportation.

          Of course we need to weigh the expenditure in relation to other priorities. However, my point was that focusing on only transit, or only active transportation for that matter, is much less effective. Whether we’re talking about transit, or active transportation, both are starting from a relatively small base, both provide considerable opportunity to grow and relieve the pressures on our road network, and both should be prioritized for investments.

  7. It’s very disappointing to see elected officials pit investments in transit against investments in active transportation. This is a false choice. We need both if we are going to have a chance of providing mobility to increasing numbers of citizens in Burlington and the GTA within the same amount of space.

    If you look at the Stats Canada numbers in question, of the 7,665 people using public transport as their main mode of travel, 5,555 of these commute outside the CSD and CD (Burlington and Hamilton). Which means that the number of people using Burlington Transit to get to work is actually smaller than the number using active modes. While I agree we need to increase this, making a meaningful dent in Burlington Transit’s mode share requires a big investment in frequent transit on major corridors. This will be substantial – probably $200 million or more for the higher order transit needed to get a 5% increase in transit share. Buses stuck in the same traffic as everyone else won’t be enough to encourage many to give up the convenience of the private automobile.

    We can approve 20 million dollars of increased taxes for roads and continually raise ‘infrastructure’ taxes without one resident complaint. But try to spend 250k to provide free transit for seniors, provide cycling options or build a sidewalk and suddenly the fiscal conservatism takes hold. It’s ridiculous.

    I would hope that you would advocate for walking and cycling with the same fervour with which you support transit. These modes are the most cost effective, both in the short and the long run and quite frankly make for a better, safer and more sustainable city. They also offer residents flexibility, especially when combined with transit, both local and regional.

    Putting more people and destinations in walking distance through smart intensification, building safe cycling infrastructure that people feel safe using regularly and rolling out a frequent transit network that has priority on the roads are all important and worthwhile things for the city to be working on simultaneously. Each is part of our long-term strategy which needs consistent and sustained investment to be maximized if it is going to remain possible for people to get around, even by car, in the not too distant future.

    • I heartily agree that hearing “transit INSTEAD OF active transportation” is extremely disappointing.
      Communities need to find ways to encourage BOTH. The two actually go hand-in-hand. Riding the bus has a pedestrian component. Slapping a bus stop on a street with no sidewalks isn’t enough…. you need to build the sidewalks too. Having better cycling infrastructure can help people get to a terminal or GO station or bus stop. Development and transportation policy needs to start with the question “how would I get to work, grocery store, my kid’s activities, etc. from here without a car?” If the answer is “you can’t, it would be too inefficient”, then changes need to be made.

What's your take?

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