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Rural Travel Around an Urban Area: Completing the Picture of Travel


Urban areas across Canada must keep track of changing travel trends. This helps them to prioritize scarce transportation infrastructure investment dollars to meet both existing and emerging trends. As the country’s urban areas have grown, so too have the rural populations surrounding these centres. Recent urban household travel surveys have tended to include this ‘hinterland,’ including surveys in Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, the Greater TorontoHamilton Area and Winnipeg. Naturally, the analytical and model development processes have focused on the dominant urban activity whose attributes tend to mask those associated with the surrounding rural areas. However, the characteristics of urban and rural travel differ; and although rural travel is much smaller it does represent a potential new market for sustainable transportation initiatives that are focused on the urban centre. Moreover, the rural ‘rings’ often provide a transition in travel between interurban corridors and the urban centres – hence regional planning also is impacted. Finally, there is interest in maintaining the character of rural communities and environments in their own rights, which again requires distinct transportation (and other) treatments. As a result, there is a need to understand better these distinct characteristics. Recent travel surveys in the Ottawa-Gatineau area – the National Capital Region, or NCR – provide an opportunity to examine more completely the distinct nature of rural travel. This paper analyzes the 2005 region-wide household origin-destination survey, which also included the rural portions of the NCR. It also considers the 2009 external cordon roadside intercept survey, which looked at travel beyond these rural portions. Together, the two surveys provide insight into the ‘complete picture’ of travel behaviour in and around the NCR, while also accounting for the differences noted above. That is the subject of the paper, which compares travel characteristics for the different ‘markets’ (internal and external, urban and rural, sub-region and total region). These characteristics include trip rates, mode shares, trip purposes, demographics and the like. The paper also discusses aspects of the surveys and their conduct.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
David Kriger
Ahmad Subhani
Andreas Rose
Transportation planning