How long will your commute be five years from now?

Greater Toronto Area motorists on average spend 79 minutes each day driving to and from work, and public transit riders just under two hours a day. According to Statistics Canada, the average round trip GTA commute has increased by 11 minutes since 1992.

Two weeks ago Metro readers responded to an online survey at which asked, “What is your average one-way commute time to work?” Out of 720 responses, around 31 per centwere “less than 30 minutes,” while just under 20 per cent chose “more than an hour.”


Last week’s return to work and school saw roads and transit vehicles fill up just as the municipal election season starts. Last Thursday Environics Communications and Saturn Canada held a “Slowest Commute Contest” to see how long it would take three hybrid SUVs, all dispatched at 7:45 a.m. from the west, north and east, to reach downtown Toronto.

Despite good weather and no major accidents along the way, the trips from Burlington, Newmarket and Whitby averaged 90 minutes, one way!

Most commuters don’t travel as far between home and work, but urban dwellers everywhere are spending more time getting from around. But can campaigning politicians offer real solutions?

Few of us can work from home or wait until 9 a.m. to go into the office, so the main option is to move closer to one’s job. Of course, couples often work in different parts of the region, some with poor transit access.

With so much new commercial development sprouting up across the 905, people often see little choice but to drive. Too often companies set up shop in suburban business parks because of lower taxes, leaving employees to deal with longer or more costly commutes.

GO Transit has traditionally been oriented toward downtown Toronto, and doesn’t reach these dispersed work locations. Bus service — take the TTC and Mississauga Transit routes near Pearson airport as an example — run infrequently or get caught in traffic.

Candidates for municipal councils must address the complex land use and planning issues confronting the GTA.

But will they? Those politicians who do win office on Nov. 13 are going to have four years to make difficult decisions. It’s crucial we examine their intentions before voting.

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