Sustainable Mobility on the Rise - 2016 Canadian Census

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Journey to Work chapter of the 2016 Canadian Census, released on November 29, 2017, shows that sustainable mobility is on the rise with more commuters, public transit riders, and workforce living in urban areas. 

As council and committee members of the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) prepare for the 2018 TAC Spring Technical Meetings, sustainable mobility remains a key topic, along with climate change, connected and automated vehicles, environmental issues and infrastructure spending.

Mobility is also identified as one of six focus areas in TAC’s Strategic Plan, which reflects the Association’s priorities and guides its initiatives. TAC members recognize the importance of considering mobility as a service, for both goods and people. Greater attention is being paid to the integration of land use planning and transportation.

Increasing the use of active modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling, offers benefits for both individual and environmental health. The 2016 Census results reflect an increase in active modes of transportation, compared to 1996. 

Key Mobility Findings

Key findings are available on the Statistics Canada website. They include:

  • Number of commuters - Since 1996, the number of commuters has risen by 3.7 million to 15.9 million in 2016.
  • Getting to work - In 2016, the majority of Canadians (74%) commuted to work by driving; less took public transit (12%), walked or rode a bicycle (7%), carpooled (6%) or got to work by using other means (1%).
  • Increase in public transit - From 1996 to 2016, the number of commuters taking public transit grew by 59.5%, while those using a car increased by 28.3%.
  • Active modes of transportation - The number of walking commuters increased by 3.2% over the 20-year period, while the number of cycling commuters has risen by more than 61% since 1996.
  • Workforce living in urban areas - Canada’s workforce population is increasingly living in urban areas. Twenty years ago, 70.5% of employed Canadians who commuted to work were living in a census metropolitan area (CMA). By 2016, this proportion has increased to 73.5%. With almost three-quarters (73.5%) of all workers living in a CMA in 2016, certain modes of sustainable transportation, particularly public transit, were more available in these urban environments.
  • Average commuting time - Commuters spent an average of 26.2 minutes travelling to their workplace in 2016, a slight increase of 3.6% from 2011 (25.4 minutes). The average commuting time was 24.1 minutes for car commuters and 44.8 minutes for public transit commuters.

For More Information

More detailed information can be obtained in the Journey to Work chapter of the 2016 Canadian Census. The Census in Brief series also offers an article on analyses focusing on the use of sustainable transportation in Canada's census metropolitan areas.