Pan Am Games Won’t Change Commuting Habits

Picture this: It's 5:15 pm at the end of a hectic day at work. Home is a 32 km commute away – pick the wrong car, and it's going to be an hour of tedious misery. Pick the right one, and it can be an hour of relaxed serenity.

You're not looking for power and handling. You're looking for the details that make a car better when things get congested. Thrift. Comfortable seats. Acoustic isolation. A full-featured infotainment system. Satellite radio. Advanced technologies to ease the drive.

Bad news for those of us who thought the Pan Am Games hype might push people off the cluttered roadways.

With the Pan Am Games just days away and temporary HOV rules already in full effect, 60 percent of Toronto commuters say they won’t be changing their commuting habits.

Despite a push from Games organizers to encourage drivers into alternative transport during the month-long multi-sport event the poll found that most drivers don’t feel other options are viable.

Among those who would consider changing their habits just 13 percent plan to carpool and only 10 percent intend to walk or cycle to work.

For 22 percent of those who say they will avoid the highways during the games, public transport is the preferred option while a full 30 percent intend to change their work hours to skirt lengthy commutes.

16 percent of respondents will negotiate flex hours with employers to avoid peak traffic, while 14 percent will opt to stay home altogether and work remotely.

The youngest respondents (18-24 year-olds) were most likely to change their commuting habits while parents were the least likely to do so. Older drivers were more likely to take a vacation and avoid the city entirely during the games, with 20 percent of respondents over 65 expressing a desire to leave while the Pan Am Games were on.

Half the respondents who said they would change their habits indicated they would try a mix of the five suggested strategies – transit, carpooling, flex hours, working from home or cycling/walking – as they attempt to escape the Pan Am traffic snarls.

But for the most part the roads will be as congested as ever with most people tied to their regular routine so remember to plan plenty of time in advance.

From June 30 – July 3, 2015 an online Google survey was conducted among 505 randomly selected commuters who drive to work a minimum of two days per week.

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