COVID-19: More Canadians now walk or bike to work than take public transit

But driving remains the most common mode of commuting in the country


A Statistics Canada survey reveals that more people now walk or ride their bike to work than take public transit due to COVID-19.

The poll indicates that the fear of contracting the virus “weighed heavily” on this shift.

A five-fold increase in the number of people working from home since the onset of the pandemic also counted as a factor.

Six per cent of Canadians now walk or bicycle to work compared to three per cent who ride public transit.

Before the pandemic, 13 per cent used public transit to work.

Statistics Canada released the results of the survey Monday (August 10).

The agency noted that prior to the pandemic, 75 per cent of workers commuted to work by private vehicle; 13 per cent, public transit; seven per cent, walking or biking; four per cent, telecommuting; and one per cent, another mode of transportation.

The proportions changed in June 2020.

The number of people of who walk or ride their bikes to work now represent twice of those who take public transit.

Private vehicles remain the most common mode of commuting, 67 per cent; telecommuting, 22 per cent; walking or biking, six per cent; public transit, three per cent; and another mode of transportation, two per cent.

“The vast majority (94 per cent) of commuters who used public transit before the pandemic and who were not comfortable going back to their usual place of work cited ‘fear of using public transit’ as a concern when they return to their workplace,” Statistics Canada noted.

The agency also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic did “not bring transformative changes to car commuting”.

Over four-fifths or 84 per cent of commuters who drove to work before the health crisis continued to do so in June.

Meanwhile, nearly one-quarter or 24 per cent of people who rode public transit before the pandemic still do so in June.

However, over one-third or 34 per cent switched to another mode of transportation, and 42 per cent were teleworking.

“Of the public transit users who changed modes, approximately three-quarters switched to taking their car and one-fifth walked or bicycled to work,” Statistics Canada noted. 

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.

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