Advocatus Diaboli

This blog is about things, issues, ideas, and concepts on subjects focusing on Canada, Canadian Issues and Affairs and those that affect Canada and Canadians from afar.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Alberta News and Views - February 5, 2007 - Issue 4

A new look at commuting distance
The best way of solving commuting-related problems may not be to move jobs closer to residential areas, according to a new study published recently in Urban Geography.

Rather, this study suggests, people actually like to work in large business districts, and are willing to travel further to get to them.

This research, conducted through Statistics Canada's Research Data Centre program, uses data from the 2001 Census to take an innovative look at commuting in Montréal. It examines what motivates people to travel further to so-called "employment poles", a central business area or large suburban business districts, than to other workplaces.

Among workers who both lived and worked outside the home in the census metropolitan area of Montréal, over one-third (36%) worked at these employment poles, in the city centre or in one of five large suburban business districts.

Their average round trip between home and work was 23 kilometres. This was almost 5 kilometres a day further than the average distance traveled by those working outside employment poles.

The findings challenge the generally held assumption that workers accept the extra travel costs because of the higher incomes and job status offered at employment poles. Instead, income and job status actually play a relatively minor role in explaining why people who work in these large business districts are prepared to live further from their jobs than people who work outside them.

Even after taking into account gender, occupation and income levels of each job, and certain domestic and residential factors, the distance traveled to employment poles remains higher than the distance traveled to other job locations. ("Residential" factors include the choice of residential area and of suburban or urban environment, which control for the possibility that workers simply travel farther to the poles because that is where the jobs are.)

This suggests that there is something about the social environment offered by employment poles that attracts people from further afield. These effects are particularly strong for women. They suggest that women derive more satisfaction than men from the type of environment major employment poles generate.


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