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Toronto commuters still rely primarily on cars to get to work, data shows

Traffic on the Don Valley Parkway. SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/Floydian

As transit experts at Toronto City Hall debate what to do with $850 million in fresh federal funding and dissect the merits of John Tory’s SmartTrack plan, perhaps it’s worth stepping back to assess how people actually are getting to work before investing anywhere.

Thanks to the good folks at The 10 and 3, it’s now possible to see specifically how everyone in Toronto currently gets to their jobs every day.

The graphic storytellers published a post Wednesday showing just how reliant Torontonians still are on their cars compared to public transit, walking or biking.

Using information from the 2011 National Household Survey, the data shows that over 90 per cent of commuters outside of the city fire up their cars each morning to get to work, and a majority of workers in more central neighbourhoods like Etobicoke and Scarborough prefer to drive over other modes of transportation. Only deep in the heart of downtown do commuters look to other modes, and even then, over 20 per cent of workers are using their cars to start the day.


According to the data, walkers and cyclists are most concentrated to the downtown core, with pockets of non-motorized commuters appearing in areas like York University and downtown Ajax and Oakville. Unfortunately, the data isn’t able to discern between summer and winter commutes, where slush and snow could make walking and cycling longer distances more difficult.

In terms of public transit, the majority of commuters using the available systems tend to live closest to the city’s major subway lines, and at major transfer stations like Eglinton and Finch. Interestingly, along major routes that are suffer from overcrowded public transportation modes, commuters turn to their cars as the best option.


For the rest of the transportation maps and more analysis of the data, head over to The 10 and 3.