Jul 22, 2006

Transit devotees riding on faith

Statistics Canada's latest figures on the daily commute ought to be sobering for city politicians and planners who argue the city's future rests on a $4.4-billion expansion of public transit.

The average commute by car in Ottawa last year was 57 minutes, but for transit riders, the figure was 94 minutes. That's simply uncompetitive. No doubt there are bus routes that compare favourably with the car for particular riders and particular destinations, but the overall picture is that bus commuters have to spend a lot more time getting to work and back. The gap between car and bus commute times here is at least better than the national average of 46 minutes, but it's still a lot of time to give up every day for the pleasures of riding an OC Transpo bus.

There is a clientele for public transit in Ottawa consisting of about 17 per cent of commuters. Some take it by choice or conviction, others by necessity. The problem the city hasn't come to grips with is how to persuade more people to make the transit choice. Continued…

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