(NC) The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is growing fast. By 2031, it’s estimated that more than nine million residents will call the region home. This increase of almost 30% means even more people on the roads.
If you spend part of your day driving, that probably spells bad news. The average commute in Ontario is already over 45 minutes, and that figure jumps to more than an hour for commuters in the GTHA. That adds up to more than 250 hours a year.
Metrolinx, the transportation agency of the Province of Ontario, is investing in transportation infrastructure to change the way the region moves. But there are small things you can do today to make a huge difference. Here are four alternatives to consider that are recommend by the agency’s Smart Commute program, which works to promote smart travel options.
Carpooling. The average annual cost to own and operate a personal vehicle in Canada is between $7,000 and $10,000. Carpooling makes it possible to share those expenses, leaving more cash for other things. As an added bonus, carpoolers can take advantage of high-occupancy vehicle lanes to avoid traffic. If you’re looking for a carpool buddy, try using an online tool to find a match. Some GO stations even feature designated priority parking for carpoolers.
Take transit. A single GO Train can take nearly 1,700 cars off the road. Factor in the cost of driving and parking, and it make sense to hop on a train. Metrolinx is increasing the frequency of GO train service along established transit corridors — including Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Barrie, and the Durham region — to make it easier for commuters to choose transit over their cars. In the future, GO Transit is planning 15 minute all day, two-way electrified service in many communities in the region.
Flexible hours. Many employers are introducing work options like compressed work weeks, flex time and telework opportunities. These flexible alternatives allow people to eliminate their trip completely or commute earlier or later to avoid traffic jams. This translates into a more productive day and better work-life balance. It also reduces the number of commuters on the road in peak travel times, so everyone benefits.
Biking or walking. A study by Smart Commute with the University of Toronto, shows the number of children and youth walking and cycling to school has declined, while the number driving or being driven has more than doubled since 1986. Get cars off the road by organizing a neighbourhood biking or walking group. Or consider programs like Bike Share Toronto that give commuters and residents alike more transportation options. Presto cardholders also get 50 per cent off an annual membership at Bike Share.