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

Sep 8, 2016

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.

According to the National Household Survey, the average Canadian commuter spends about 25.4 minutestravelling to work each way. That’s almost an hour per day in the car!

However, a more recent study, Oxford’s Future of Work Survey, suggests that Canadians are spending more time commuting. According to their data, Canadians, on average, are spending 29 minutes travelling to work.

While this may not seem like a ton, it adds up over time. For example, a 30-minute commute each way adds up to :

  • 1 hr per day
  • 5 hrs per week
  • 20 hrs per month
  • 240 hrs per year or 30 work days per year

How Many Canadians Commute To Work?

Chart showing average commute times 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.

Obviously, 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 :

  • Canadian National Average is 29 minutes
  • Toronto is 42 minutes
  • Montreal is 36 minutes
  • Vancouver is 33 minutes
  • Ottawa is 29 minutes
  • Edmonton is 27 minutes
  • Calgary is 27 minutes

How do these numbers compare to commute time in U.S. cities?

Average U.S. Commute Times

  • U.S. National Average is 26 minutes
  • New York is 40 minutes
  • Chicago is 33 minutes
  • Philadelphia is 32 minutes
  • San Francisco is 32 minutes
  • Baltimore is 32 minutes
  • Los Angeles is 30 minutes

Interesting Canadian Commuting Facts

Here are some additional commuting stats :

  • 74% of commuters who drove their vehicle to work; another 5.6 per cent made the trip as passengers.
  • 12% of commuters who used public transit for largest portion of their commute.
  • 880,800 Canadians who walked to work.
  • 201,800 Canadians who cycled to work.
  • 29 minutes is the average commute time to work.
  • 17.2% of Canadians whose commute took 45 minutes or longer.
  • 29.1% of commuters who left for work between 7:00 and 7:59 a.m., the most popular window for such trips.

Other Ways To Commute Than Driving

If you live in a large 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 could be more viable options and worth considering :

  • GO Train
  • Subway
  • Bus or streetcar
  • Walk or bicycle
  • Carpool

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.

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 favorite 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 ways how :

  • 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.