On-Site Magazine

Better public transport preferred over driving in Toronto

By Adam Freill   

Construction Infrastructure

Hitachi Rail survey suggests more than half of Torontonians would accept increased road taxes to fund better-connected public transport.

Hitachi Rail’s new research provides insight into increasing public transport use. (Photo courtesy of Hitachi Rail)

While most Torontonians currently favour driving a personal vehicle to public transport, many would opt for public transit if systems were more connected and able to indicate how busy the system is and provide information about routes.

A recent Hitachi Rail report investigating attitudes towards public transportation infrastructure and smart mobility polled residents in eight cities around the globe, including Toronto, finding that three-quarters of people would choose a better-connected public transport system, rather than driving. The report finds a strong global demand for smart transport solutions to deliver enhanced cost, convenience and comfort, with a willingness to pay for improvements through increased taxes on private transport.

Hitachi Rail commissioned the research to better understand the push and pull factors for using public transport. More than 60 per cent of respondents in Toronto favour their car over public transport. Top motives are crowd avoidance, cost and convenience. More than three-quarters of these of Torontonians see the positive environmental impact available through public transport, however, highlighting the need for a continued investment in new sustainability technology and initiatives throughout the sector.

The impact from COVID-19 extended into public transportation decisions in Toronto. More than two-thirds believe the pandemic changed how they travel, with more than half reporting they are more likely to drive than use public transport because of the pandemic, with almost half expecting to adjust their choice of travel method as society returns to a more normal environment post-pandemic.


“Now that we are moving into a post-pandemic environment, we are encouraged to see how Toronto responds to public transport and the new technology, safety programs and sustainability practices that have become available since they last rode,” said Joe Pozza, president of Hitachi Rail, North America.

Toronto ranks as one of the top surveyed cities with respect to interest in technology that can better alert riders of service disruptions, show a full planned and mapped out route, and provide real-time advice about the most efficient route to a destination.

The research also reports people would also be prepared to pay more for better-connected public transport. When faced with the same option of a better-connected transport system but at a higher cost than driving, three-in-five still suggested that they would choose to travel this way.

The study also finds that one possible route for charging and paying for better-connected public transport could be via new or increased road charges. Overall, 63 per cent were in favour of this as a revenue source, with only 14 per cent against, although the majority was slimmer in Toronto, where 51 per cent of respondents expressed favour of such taxes.

“Our research shows that three-quarters of people would use public transport more often if it was better-connected and more convenient, and that access to a single smart phone app for the entire network would be preferable,” stated Ludmil Neykov, chief digital officer at Hitachi Rail. “From Washington, D.C., to Paris, and from Toronto to Bangkok, we are ready help cities to reduce costs, carbon and congestion through our digital systems and services.”




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