Vol. 21 No. 8 • February 26 - March 4, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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More Commuters And More Cars

by Don McLean
August 28 - September 3, 2014
More than a third of Hamilton’s workforce is now commuting outside the city, slowly continuing a long–standing trend and adding to highway congestion. The recently released results of the massive Transportation Tomorrow Survey show local residents have more cars, and are driving them further and more often, although there is also a slight uptick in transit use.

    The TTS collected 2011 travel data from nearly 160,000 households – just over 5 per cent of those in the twenty participating municipalities that include all of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Hamilton, Niagara Region, Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford, Barrie, Peterborough and the counties where they are located. The Hamilton section of the report provides data for each of the six former municipalities.

    In the city as a whole it found nearly 60,000 employees travelling beyond its borders to work. That’s 34.4 per cent of the workforce, up from 32.4 per cent (53,500) in 2006. The contribution of Hamiltonians to regional traffic congestion has been growing steadily since the first TTS report recorded 15.6 per cent commuters (23,000) twenty five years ago.

    The vast majority (82.5 per cent) of the out–commuters head into the GTA with over half of those travelling to Halton region. That’s similar to the 2006 results but with a slight addition of about 700 commuters to each of Niagara and Waterloo regions.

    With the Toronto area now boasting some of the worst congestion on the continent, the provincial government has committed to a massive expansion of trains and buses including a rapid transit corridor in Hamilton. City councillors want full provincial funding for the latter – whether it’s light rail or a bus rapid transit system – but almost unanimously have rejected provincial suggestions for additional funding sources such as road tolls, parking fees, and/or gas tax hikes.

    The TTS survey shows one in every seven Hamilton households did not have access to a vehicle in 2011, while nearly as many (11 per cent) had three or more cars and trucks. For the first time in the five–year surveys, a clear majority (56 per cent) had two or more vehicles.

    Not surprisingly, the breakdown by former municipality shows dramatic differences, with vehicle ownership far higher in the suburbs, especially in Flamborough, Ancaster and Glanbrook where at least 97 per cent of households have a vehicle.

    Flamborough has only one percent car–less, while Glanbrook has two and Ancaster three percent. In Stoney Creek one–in–twenty households don’t have a car, in Dundas it’s just about one–in–ten and in the old city of Hamilton one–in–five are car–less.

    About 7 per cent of Hamilton trips use local transit and another 1 per cent travel on the GO system. That’s up slightly from 2006 when the GO numbers were too small to register above zero in the rounded final figures, but it is still less than the 10 per cent recorded in the 1986 TTS survey.

    The city–wide numbers indicate Hamiltonians make an average of nearly three–quarters of a million vehicle trips per day, up about 35,000 since 2006. They also show 84 per cent of all trips are by drivers or passengers in a vehicle, with walking and cycling accounting for 5 per cent. The remaining 3 per cent travel by taxi, school bus or motorcycle.

    The TTS data doesn’t examine road space per household in the former municipalities but lower density development in newer suburbs could mean multi–car households are subsidized by those with just one vehicle or none. In old Hamilton, for example, two–thirds of households have less than two vehicles, while that situation applies to less than one–third of homes in Ancaster, Glanbrook and Flamborough.

    Road and bridge construction and maintenance will consume over $100 million in this year’s city budget – more than a third of the total capital expenditures. V
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