Ottawa Citizen

Commuters changing ways: poll

Over past six months, 31% of drivers opted for smaller cars; nearly 10% moved closer to work


Millions of Canadian commuters are changing the way they get to work rather than paying the price at the pump, according to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Canwest News Service and Global National.

The poll, conducted this week as gas prices continue to rise, found that over the last six months 37 per cent of commuters were walking to work more and 31 per cent were switching to gasefficie­nt cars such as smaller vehicles.

The poll’s results also indicate that 24 per cent of commuters were increasing­ly opting for carpooling, and 14 per cent were working more from home. Nine per cent of those polled said they took the drastic measure of moving closer to work.

“We have individual­s being affected on a day-to-day basis in their commuting behaviour, and the shift-over is in the millions,” said John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid. By his calculatio­ns, the poll suggests more than 6.7 million Canadian commuters were walking to work more often.

“I don’t know too many circumstan­ces where millions of people can be affected. Not even floods usually affect that many people,” he said.

Victoria Scrozzo, who lives in Vaughan, a suburb of Toronto, is one of those people.

Though she still makes the 40minute drive to work in Richmond Hill, she began taking the subway when she visits downtown Toronto at other times. She said the deciding factor was when she noticed that filling up her tank costs $20 more than it used to.

“The subway doesn’t go everywhere in the city, so it’s not exactly convenient, and it does take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes more,” Ms. Scrozzo said. “But it’s certainly worth it when you factor in the crazy prices of gas.”

David Ramsay, a car dealer in Sydney, N.S., said he’s noticed an influx of interest in the hybrid cars he sells.

“We’ve got more than one person who might have two children, and (in the past) a minivan made a lot of sense,” he said. “But at $1.40 plus (per litre) you start to assess and say, ‘well, you know, maybe I get along with a Honda Civic instead of a Dodge Caravan and double my fuel efficiency’.”

The poll also suggests that a number of Canadians are making plans to change their commuting habits in the future. A slim majority (52 per cent) of those polled said they plan on walking more in the future, while 49 per cent said they will switch to a more fuel-efficient car.

The poll’s findings, collected through telephone interviews with 1,002 Canadians between June 10 -12, are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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