Surrey residents typically battle traffic for 31 minutes when they go to work.

Car still king for Metro Vancouver commuters, stats show

Transit use up, but most workers battle traffic in vehicles

Metro Vancouverites have Canada’s fourth longest commute to work at an average of  28.4 minutes, according to new data released by Statistics Canada.

Maple Ridge workers have it worst, battling traffic for an average of 35.2 minutes,  while the commute is as much as 33 minutes in the Tri Cities and 31 minutes in Surrey.

The numbers were gathered in the voluntary long-form National Household Survey conducted as part of the 2011 Census.

The region’s shortest commute was 24.3 minutes in North Vancouver City, where residents spend even less time getting to work than Vancouverites, who average 25.4 minutes.

Metro commuters overwhelmingly commuted by private vehicle – 70.7 per cent – but that’s down from 74.4 per cent in 2006.

Car pooling remains infrequent, with less than five per cent of commuters saying they were passengers in private vehicles.

Public transit use was 19.7 per cent in Metro Vancouver, behind Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau, which had transit usage rates of 20 to 23 per cent.

Transit ridership was up from 16.5 per cent reported in 2006.

Broken down between travel mode, the findings show Metro commuters spent much longer getting to work if they took public transit – one possible reason why many still prefer to drive.

The average transit rider here commuted for 40.9 minutes compared to 26.4 minutes for motorists in private vehicles. Walkers averaged a 14.4-minute stroll to work while cyclists biked on average 23.8 minutes.

TransLink hopes to eventually whittle the share of car trips in the region down to 50 per cent, while increasing the number of people who take transit, cycle or walk.

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said the Statistics Canada findings are consistent with TransLink data, particularly on the growth of public transit.

“We are increasing our ridership,” he said. “We have seen an 84 per cent increase over the last decade, equal to 109 million more transit trips.”

Transit trips also increased in the last year, he said, through more efficient use of existing resources, with no extra injection of money.

Despite a huge push to add bike lanes, particularly in Vancouver, there’s little sign of cycling getting out of first gear as a way of getting to work.

Just 4.4 per cent pedalled to work in Vancouver, while cyclists made up just two per cent of commuters in North Vancouver, 1.3 per cent in flat Richmond and less than one per cent in most of the rest of the region.

The car remains king in the Abbotsford-Mission area, where 92.2 per cent of workers commuted by private vehicles, just 2.5 per cent used public transit, 2.6 per cent walked and 0.8 per cent biked.

The survey also found the City of Vancouver was the workplace of 36.1 per cent of commuters from Burnaby and 13.1 per cent of commuters living in Surrey.

Eight per cent of B.C. residents worked at home rather than at an outside workplace.

 

The Lower Mainland commute | Infographics