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The time it takes to get to work and back

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The time it takes to get to work and back

by Martin Turcotte

Part 1 - Home-to-work travel times >
Part 2 - Factors associated with a longer or shorter travel time >

Rush-hour road congestion is a problem common to most major urban areas in Canada. The negative consequences of congestion, which are suffered by both individuals and communities, are numerous and well-documented: pollution and increased greenhouse gas emissions, lost time, delays reaching work and home, increased stress, reduced productivity and other economic costs.

For several years, the view that congestion is getting worse, especially in Canada 's major cities, has become widespread. More generally, many workers believe they are taking increasingly longer to get to work. But how accurate are these perceptions? Have average travel times between home and workplace really increased since the 1990s? And if so, is this true for workers in general or only a category of workers?

This article attempts to answer these questions and many others using the most recent data from the 2005 General Social Survey on time use. The main objective of the study is to document changes in workers' travel times between home and work on weekdays and to offer explanations for these changes. Data from the two previous cycles of the time use survey, namely those of 1992 and 1998, are used to document these changes.

The second objective of the study is to identify which factors have the greatest effect on workers' travel time to and from work, using a statistical model that takes several variables into account simultaneously. This analysis will answer questions such as the following: How much extra time does it take workers using public transit to get to and from work, assuming a given distance from the workplace? And for two workers living an equal distance from their workplace, how much extra time will it take the one who lives in a large urban area compared to the one living in a smaller community?

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Date modified: 2006-07-12 Important Notices