Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Is the Commute the Best Part of your Day?

Re: Kopun, Francine. "Commuters say they enjoy the ride; Even StatsCan analyst surprised Liking your job helps, survey finds." Toronto Star. 8 November 2006: Page A3.

When I read this article I nearly fell of my chair laughing. It turns out that people consider commuting to be not bad. My question to these pollsters is:

Did you talk to anyone in Ontario?

 Most Ontarioans, I would bet, think their commute stinks! Stuck in gridlocked traffic, being cut off by some @%! hole driving a BMW who believes he is much more important than thou.

I did agree with the finding that those who took mass transit find their commute the worst. Over stuffed Subways, buses that leave you at the curb because there is no room (and your lucky if they even arrive on time!) and unpolite people jamming their bags into you and/or talking on their cell phones are just some reasons. In York Region, it seems the mass transit system needs a lot of work, even with the advent of the VIVA system. Why does it take an hour to just over two hours to go from central York Region (Aurora) to Downsview Station? This is because connections between buses are obnoxious (i.e. one bus just misses the other by a minute forcing passengers needing to transfer to wait ten to fifteen minutes or even more). When you call VIVA customer service they give you lame excuses like: "the system operates just like the subway" and "there is traffic causing delays." Well news flash, the Toronto subway, unlike VIVA, doesn't operate every 10 minutes or 15 minutes apart. Also, there is constant traffic, so if you promise a bus will arrive every ten minutes or less or fifteen minutes or less then perhaps you should be running them less than ten minutes apart or less than fifteen minutes apart. No wonder this commute take so long!

Considering that the average commute in the Greater Toronto Area (Toronto and its surrounding suburbs) is 79 minutes and growing, how can these commuters be enjoying their commutes?

I know when I was in Ottawa as a student, I noted similar traffic conditions to those of Toronto. Bumper to bumper and overpacked OC Transpo bus system into the downtown core is also the rule in Ottawa. So how can people claim this a good commute. I'm not sure how people enjoy sitting in a car or bus that isn't going anywhere.

People enjoy their commute in smaller centers? Perhaps, I will concede this. But I would imagine that most jobs are in big cities like the Greater Toronto area, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and others where the traffic arteries are clogged worse than an obese person chugging down mountains of McDonald's french fries. Transit? The transit systems are choking on their own success with overflowing buses and subway systems. I'm still wondering how could this be possible that people enjoy their commute?

Perhaps the pollsters called quite a few rural farmers whose commute involves hopping in the pick-up truck and driving down the half kilometer driveway to barn. These country bumpkins only have to worry about a non moooooooving cow instead of an idiot whose car broke down in the middle lane of Highway 401 at Yonge Street in Toronto. No wonder these people would say they have a possible commute, their work is only max one kilometre away! This would offset the percentages of those in urban centers who hate their commutes and the related daily grind of work.

Perhaps Statscan should try this study again. Perhaps Statscan take can exclude the rural folk who don't commute into an urban centre on a regular basis to work. Then perhaps Statscan would have a more true commute to work responses that look like this:

Have you ever tried to navigate through Toronto during rush hour? Do you think Statscan really knows what it's like to try to drive downtown - can't turn left, can't turn right, construction, etc.? -- Calvin Lam, Toronto

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