Average B.C. commute is 26 minutes: census

British Columbians are putting a priority on affordable living costs over time spent on the road

Whether it’s suffering through gridlock or driving on vast open highways, British Columbians spend more time commuting to and from work than most Canadians, census numbers show.

The time it typically takes a B.C. commuter to get to work is part of the latest portion of 2016 census data, released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

On average, it takes a B.C. resident 25.9 minutes to get to work. That’s compared to 10 minutes for someone in Nunavut and 28.8 minutes for someone in Ontario – the longest commute time by province.

Earlier census numbers have illustrated how growth in the suburbs is being fuelled by rising home prices in major urban centres, particularly in the Lower Mainland. While residents look to more affordable housing on the outskirts, they in turn have to deal with longer travel times.

Avoiding a commute – if possible – is also an option for some, with 8.5 per cent of people reporting they work from home. That’s compared to the Canadian average of 7.4 per cent.

But for those who do leave their home for work, Wednesday’s data suggest British Columbians are willing to put a priority on seeking more sustainable living costs over time spent on the road.

Public transit, car pooling popular options in B.C.

The data also detailed habits on commuting using what’s called sustainable transportation, such as public transit, carpooling, walking or cycling – anything that isn’t one person using one car to get around.

In B.C., 13 per cent of people use public transit to get to and from work – above the national average of 12 per cent. About 12 per cent carpool. Another seven per cent walk to work, while 2.5 per cent ride a bike.

Victoria had the most commuters using sustainable transportation, at 38.8 per cent. Another about 10 per cent each rely on public transit and walking. About 6.5 per cent cycled.

In smaller metropolitan areas, like the Fraser Valley or Kelowna, car pooling was a more viable option compared to public transit systems that aren’t often linked to outside communities.

Abbotsford and Mission residents carpool the most – roughly 16 per cent – with almost one-third commuting to Vancouver and four per cent heading to Chilliwack.

In Kelowna, 15 per cent of commuters rely on public transit or carpooling to get to work.

Public transportation does come at a cost, however. In Vancouver, where 20 per cent of people use the bus, SkyTrain or Seabus, it took an average of about 45 minutes to get to work, compared to 27 minutes by car.

CANADIAN CENSUS: B.C.’s commuter times
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