Commuting Back to Campus
With Ryerson students studying remotely this term and next, commuting to campus may not be top of mind. But a new study points to changes needed to help college and university students get around safely in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, post-pandemic.
In fall 2019, Ryerson’s Dr. Raktim Mitra led a study called StudentMoveTO, which conducted the largest-ever survey of student transportation to better understand the travel patterns, experiences and preferences of students from ten post-secondary institutions in the GTHA. The study looked at all modes of travel — including walking, biking, driving, and using local and regional transit — and found that on average, GTHA post-secondary students have a one-way commute distance of 14.6 kilometres with a duration of 45.9 minutes.
Between all ten post-secondary institutions, Ryerson students have, on average, the second-longest commute times across all modes of travel, and more Ryerson students use regional transit (such as GO Transit) as their primary mode than at any other institution. Ryerson students rely heavily on public transit overall, with 77% using local and regional transit as their primary way to get to campus (see table below). The length of these trips, as well as the requirement for some to transfer between transit agencies (ex. Metrolinx to TTC), points to the need for sufficient transit capacity and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission when the time comes to return to campus.
Local and Regional Transit as Primary Mode
|Institution||% of Students|
|University of Toronto||57%|
|Ontario Tech University||46%|
Along with his co-investigators from University of Toronto, York University and OCAD University, Dr. Mitra chose to release the report and the data now, in the middle of COVID-19-related restrictions, because pre-pandemic data can inform planning for post-COVID travel - particularly as transit agencies and providers continue to ramp up their service. Pre-pandemic, the insights generated through this initiative would have supported effective transportation policymaking, planning and innovation in a busy, congested, unequal region. Given the pandemic, the findings take on added urgency, as they provide an evidence base to safely and equitably help return hundreds of thousands of students to campuses across the region. For example, with over three quarters of Ryerson students relying on some form of public transit for their daily travel, it is critical that safe and reliable transit service is in place across the region during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that students feel confident in their commutes as they return to campus.
The report, external link, “StudentMoveTO: From Insight to Action on Transportation for Post-Secondary Students in the GTHA, 2019 Transportation Survey Findings,” presents the key preliminary findings from the survey, and highlights the need for changes to transportation services and infrastructure that would foster safe mobility as campus activities restart in a post-COVID world. These changes would increase the quality of life for students and the overall vitality of the GTHA and its transportation infrastructure.
Visit the StudentMoveTO website, external link for more information and to access the 2019 survey report and a video that highlights the key findings.
Local Transit as Primary Mode
|Institution||% of Students|
|University of Toronto||47%|
|Ontario Tech University||39%|
Average Commute Duration -- All Modes
|Ontario Tech University||41.7|
|University of Toronto||41.7|
|Grand Total (Average)||45.9|
Average Commute Duration -- Local & Regional Transit
|Ontario Tech University||61.4|
|University of Toronto||57.9|
|Grand Total (Average)||61.2|