Commuting and transit: 66% would pay more to cut their trip to work or school, new poll finds

Item date: 
March 2, 2013
Item context: 

If the majority of respondents to this extensive survey don't know the Big Move, the majority can't know the implications of different taxes and user fees (aka revenue tools).  With the help of international speakers on April 8, the Transport Futures Mobility Funding Symposium will be creating a framework that can comprehensively assess which revenue tools are the best choice to pay for the transportation network.


Six out of 10 Toronto area residents believe that building more public transit is the route to reducing regional traffic congestion. But their preferences on how to pay and how much they’re willing to contribute vary dramatically, according to a new poll from Forum Research.

The survey of 1,750 residents, believed to be among the largest studies of transit issues in the Toronto region, shows that many residents are persuaded they will have to pay something toward transit expansion. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate plus or minus 2%, 19 times out of 20.

Eighteen per cent said they would be willing to pay $5 or less annually in a household fee; 38 per cent would pay between $10 and $50 and, 15 per cent would pay $50 to $100.

Asked what kind of transportation they want, 35 per cent favoured subways, compared with 17 per cent who wanted LRTs. Among respondents inside Toronto, 43 per cent prefer subways. Only 9 per cent of respondents wanted more GO service, and 10 per cent preferred more local bus service in the region.

In many cases, the research shows drivers understand that transit also helps their commute by taking cars off the road, and they are as willing to pay toward transit expansion as those who ride transit.

Half of respondents agreed that the cost of transportation improvements should be borne equally between the city and the region.

“For the most part, city dwellers and suburbanites want the same thing — effective transit to reduce gridlock — and they are willing pay something for it. In fact, that willingness is more common to the outer suburbs around Toronto than it is to the suburbs in the city,” Bozinoff said.

Some 42 per cent of poll respondents said they would be willing to pay a 5-cent/km toll on the Gardiner Expressway if the money went to a downtown relief line. That option was more popular among Torontonians (45 per cent) than regional commuters (38 per cent), who would be more likely to drive on the Gardiner.

“What they like is a set amount for a set goal. Everything else is airy-fairy,” said Bozinoff, adding that people relate to individual projects.

The poll shows about two-thirds of respondents are familiar with Metrolinx. Among those respondents, 80 per cent know the provincial agency is involved in co-ordinating transit in the region. But only 20 per cent of respondents said they were aware of the Big Move.