Blog Does Your Commute Drive You Crazy? Commuting In Canada: Stats, Facts, Tips

Dec 22, 2022

How much time do Canadians spend commuting to work?

Highway with traffic

Commuting to work is something that millions of people do each day. For some, it’s a short drive, walk, or ride on public transportation, but for many of us, especially in large urban areas like Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto and across the GTA, commuting takes up a lot of our time.

In 2016, the average Canadian spent 25.4 minutes travelling to work each way. In 2022, that number has almost tripled – on average 54 minutes of commuting each day. Even if you have a fuel-efficient vehicle you will not only see a dent in your wallet, but these longer travel times have a negative impact on mental health and general well-being for some people.

In this blog, we explore how longer commute times impact your insurance, alternative methods of travel, and statistics around commuting that will surprise you!

Does my commute time impact insurance?

Your driving habits play an important role in calculating your car insurance costs. The more time you spend commuting, there is a higher chance of an accident, thus higher premiums. When you are getting a quote, the advisor will likely ask how many kilometres you drive daily, weekly, and/or monthly. Depending on where you live, where you drive, and your driving habits, you could see a higher policy with a longer commute time.

Average commute time in Canada

Approximately 15.4 million Canadians commute to work, with 11.5 of these commuters driving. This is a lot of cars and traffic on the roads each day. Where you live has a huge impact on your daily commute. Based on the data from the Future of Work Survey, here are the average one way commute times in large Canadian cities according to the 2016 StatsCan survey :

Highway with traffic

How do these numbers compare to commute time in U.S. cities? You may be surprised to see some of the biggest cities in the States have lower commute times than Canada.

State Average commute time (in minutes)
New York 33.4
Maryland 32.8
New Jersey 31.7
Massachusetts 29.6
California 29.4
City Average commute time (in minutes)
New York City, NY 34.7
Long Island, NY 33.3
Washington, DC 32.8
Newark, NJ 31.1
Chicago, IL 30.8

Average Toronto commuting times

Toronto has one of the longest commute times in North America, BlogTO found in December 2022. Even with the subway system, cycling routes, and streetcar, public transit in the city has become riddled with less than efficient commuting trips. Reports show that crowded subway platforms need to make the subway system more safe.

Based on trips taken by TTC, Go Transit and other regional transportation providers, Torontonians spend an average of 56 minutes getting from home to work. Between trips, walking, shutdowns, detours, delays and waiting times, this number is up from 52 minutes in 2020 according to Moovit. Back in 2013, that time was 42 minutes. For those who drive, this can spike Toronto car insurance because of the high-risk factor of an accident.

Interesting Canadian commuting facts

The last time the federal government did a full report to reflect commuting in Canada was 2016. Since then, some things have changed. Here are some additional commuting stats :

  • 74% of commuters drove their vehicle to work; another 5.6 per cent made the trip as passengers.
  • 12% of commuters used public transit for the largest portion of their commute.
  • 880,800 Canadians walked to work.
  • 201,800 Canadians cycled to work.
  • 17.2% of Canadians whose commute took 45 minutes or longer.
  • 29.1% of commuters left for work between 7:00 and 7:59 a.m., the most popular window for such trips.
  • According to Statistics Canada, there were 2.8 million fewer commuters in 2021 than in 2016 as the pandemic drove a shift toward remote work.
  • A million Canadians took a bus or train to work in 2021, less than the 1.2 million who took transit when the data was first collected in 1996 and almost 50 % lower than it was in 2016.
  • Nearly a third of Canadians want a commute of no more than 15 minutes. Another 22 % want to work entirely from home, and nearly 40 % want a hybrid model that blends in-person and remote work.
  • Only 12% of the more than 1,500 employed Canadian respondents are willing to travel more than 15 minutes to work daily.

Other ways to commute than driving

If you live in an urban area, you may have additional options to choose from for your commute other than driving. Depending on where you live in proximity to your work, major roadways, and public transportation, these viable options and worth considering :

  • Public transit (Go Transit, subway, bus, streetcar) : One of the most popular alternatives to driving to work is public transit. Consider multi-use passes to lower costs.
  • Ridesharing or carpooling : Consider carpooling with co-workers, and using a rideshare service to split the commute with others going the same direction as you.
  • Remote working : If your office has the option for hybrid or remote work, it could help cut costs and stress related to commuting.
  • Walk or run : On average, walking 6km can take one hour. If you live close enough to your employment, you could get some low-impact exercise and save on travel costs.
  • Ride a bike : Bike commuting is not only great for your health, but it can also be a very predictable way of planning your drive as you can avoid traffic. Don’t forget to check if your insurance covers bike theft and other related perils.
  • Electric bikes or scooter : E-bikes are growing in popularity, and recent laws have been updated to reflect their use on roads.

Why consider these options? You can lower your car insurance quotes. One of the many ways that you can save policy is by qualifying for a low mileage discount. Couple this with usage based insurance, and you could really lower your costs. Plus, you will have the added benefit of not having to drive daily, something that has been shown to have negative health effects.

Highway with traffic

How commuting can affect your health

One of the few things we think about when commuting is our health. We think about the traffic, how much time it takes up, how boring it can be, and other driving related events like construction zones and delays.

While many of us get frustrated with our commute, especially on days when it takes longer than normal, it can impact us on a much deeper level than most realize.

According to a recent study on commuting and personal wellbeing by the Office for National Statistics in the UK, each minute added to our commutes can impact our happiness, level of stress, and overall wellbeing.

“Commuters are more likely to be anxious, dissatisfied and have the sense that their daily activities lack meaning than those who don’t have to travel to work even if they are paid more,” says Ami Sedghi and George Arnett from The Guardian.

Here are some additional ways commuting can affect your health :

  • Neck and back issues : Sitting for long periods of time places additional stress on your neck, back and spine, potentially leading to issues.
  • It can lead to depression : People with long commutes tend to be more stressed and are more likely to worry. Why? You spend more time isolated and have less time for social interactions.
  • Marriage issues : Long commutes increase your chance of divorce by 40%.
  • Increased weight : Commutes make you 50% more likely to be obese and 33% less likely to get enough weekly exercise.
  • Poor sleep : Commuting takes up more time during the day, and one area people sacrifice is the amount of sleep they get daily.
  • Poor diet : Since you spend so much time on the road, people are more likely to opt for fast food and less healthy snacks rather than prepared meals.
  • Higher blood pressure : And a higher BMI and cholesterol due to spending so much time sitting.

How to make your commute more comfortable

While there may not be a way around your daily commute – you have to go to work – there are ways to make it more manageable, comfortable and productive. Here are some ways to get the most out of your daily commute :

If you are driving

  • Relax! Use your drive as some time for yourself. Put on your favourite radio show or music.
  • Mentally prepare for the day. Run through the list of tasks that you need to get done so you’ll be ready to go when you get to the office.
  • Learn something! Listen to an audiobook or download a podcast and get some personal development done!

If you are taking public transportation

You can do everything you could do if you are driving, in addition to

  • Catching up with friends and family.
  • Getting in touch with your clients and following up with them.
  • Meaning to book a doctor’s appointment? Call a contractor to get an estimate. Use your commute times to make these calls.
  • Taking a nap – if you have a long bus or train ride, why not grab a few zzz’s and rest?
  • Catching up on some reading.

How to reduce your commuting time

While you can do things to make your commute more comfortable, reducing the amount of time you spend commuting is something that probably is more important to you. Depending on your situation, you may be able to shorten your commute. Here are some tips to get started :

  • Change your work hours : Rather than leaving at the same time as everyone else, if your company permits it, consider shifting your work hours to avoid the morning and afternoon traffic.
  • Work from home : Some companies allow people to work from home occasionally. Take advantage of this. Even one less day per week on the road can do wonders.
  • Have an alternative route : Driving can be unpredictable. From large volumes of traffic, accidents, construction and weather, there are countless things that can impact your commute. Check the weather forecast and traffic before leaving, and choose the best route based on the information you have.

These are some of the ways that you can reduce your commute. Even if you can only shave off a few minutes per day, it does add up over time. Regardless of how much time you spend commuting, having dependable car insurance is important. You never know what happens during your commute, and good car insurance ensures you are prepared and covered.

Commuting in Canada FAQs

Commute time is the amount of time needed to travel back and forth to work. The less you drive, the lower your Ontario car insurance can be! Keep in mind most insurers will include the time it takes you to drive to public transit as commuting.

Commuting time is generally not considered work time for most employers. Some companies may have a commuting policy which would cover driving to and from one place in a work day.

Various studies show the ideal commute is between 15-20 minutes. Some commuters use the time to transition between work and home, be productive, or enjoy some time to themselves before getting home.

A shorter commute means lower premiums

When you spend less time commuting and sitting in traffic, you can benefit from paying less for your policy. You can also take advantage of customizing your plan with CAA MyPace. Whether you are driving a long distance to work, or you’re opting to incorporate walking or biking, be sure to let your insurer know – they can make sure you are taking advantage of all the possible insurance discounts.