Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Go Young Workers!

Young Hamilton workers are "green" commuters

OTTAWA - Young workers in the Hamilton region are more likely to pick "green" commuting options than their older co-workers, the latest census information shows.

Statistics Canada has released new data Wednesday from the 2006 census that gives more details about how people in the Hamilton region most often get to work and how far they travel.

Workers under the age of 25 in the Hamilton region use public transit 14.3 per cent of the time, while a further 10.5 per cent walk and 1.9 per cent use a bike.

That's a considerably higher reliance on environmentally friendly means of getting to work than the average commuter in the Hamilton region, who commutes by public transit 8.7 per cent of the time, by foot 5.0 per cent of the time and 0.9 per cent by bike.

The reliance on the car in the Hamilton region seems to increase as the age of commuters gets older.

Commuters under the age of 25 used a vehicle to get to work - either as a driver or a passenger - 72.4 per cent of the time. Those aged 25-34 commuted by car most often 84.0 per cent of the time and those 35 and over drove or were driven 87.9 per cent of the time.

The census doesn't ask commuters why they chose their mode of transportation, so it's not known if younger workers pick greener commuting options because of their concern for the environment or whether their choice was related more to financial considerations.

Dan McDermott, director of Ontario's chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, says owning a car used to be a rite of passage for young people, but enviromental awareness in that generation has made gas guzzlers uncool. The high cost of gasoline is another factor for those with limited incomes.

"The desire to own a car is diminishing for a number of reasons, environmental consciousness being high on that list," said McDermott.

"Certainly, economic reality weighs in as well and with gas scheduled to hit $1.50 a litre, that makes the question about buying a car one that young people on limited resources will look long and hard at before making that choice."

Statistics Canada released initial information on commuting in the country's major metropolitan region last month. The new information breaks down the data further to the municipal level.

In the city of Hamilton, 9.3 per cent of workers use public transit while 83.5 per cent get to the job by car.

The median commuting distance for people in the city of Hamilton is 7.8 kilometres, meaning the point where one half of the city's population travels more than that distance and the other half travels less. Commuting distance is measured on a straight line from home to work, not the actual route travelled, which for most commuters would be longer.

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