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Old 06-01-2012, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Only recently from reading some of the stuff on this forum did I realize that Canadian public transport use is pretty high proportionally compared to some US cities (this is one of those things where stats may be more valid than "impression" especially since it isn't like many of us go around riding or observing public transit all day long in every city we visited), though of course not high compared to many of the countries discussed sometimes regarding this topic, but that's another story. It still surprised me when I first saw charts like this -- I found it hard to believe Chicago, Washington DC., San Francisco, Philly etc. uses transit less than most of those Canadian cities. I didn't even think Toronto was that up there until recently either (Based on the number of people who actually take the TTC here in the city and actually complain how it's crappy and a rip off etc., and say how they've seen better transit elsewhere*).



From the Wikipedia article "transport in Canada". There are other stats that show a similar trend.

What are some socio-economic, political, cultural reasons etc. that explain this? To be fair, Canada's population being as small as it is compared to the US, is concentrated in a smaller number of cities and jobs are more centralized, does this explain most of this difference? It seems that Canada and the US don't seem that different in terms of car and travel culture (eg. road trips, driving to the country/cottage) so is this difference mainly related to higher numbers of Canadians working downtown or in denser areas (since stats like that often relate to commuting not just driving around for other reasons)?


* To be fair, just because a large number of people use a service doesn't mean it's necessarily a good service and vice versa.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:04 PM
 
Location: NYC
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Individualism is not a religion there as it is here.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:09 PM
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Location: NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
It still surprised me when I first saw charts like this -- I found it hard to believe Chicago, Washington DC., San Francisco, Philly etc. uses transit less than most of those Canadian cities.
Those cities probably don't use transit less than larger Canadian cities. However, your chart is for overall metro areas, not city limits. In general, Canadian cities tend to be a larger proportion of the population than American cities and Canadian suburbs denser and more transit friendly than American ones.

For example, Toronto has higher mass transit ridership than Chicago but not hugely higher. The cities have similar populations. But the Chicago metro is much larger than the Toronto metro, so even if the transit ridership in the suburbs is the same (which probably isn't) in both, the Toronto metro would have a higher percentage. using public transit.

The numbers for some American cities are lower than I've seen elsewhere.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
Individualism is not a religion there as it is here.
Does individualism really correlate that strongly with not using public transit? It might have been mentioned before, but there can be capitalistic cultures (I heard Singapore and Hong Kong in eastern Asia are described as one of the most cut-throat capitalistic societies around) and very socialistic ones, such as the western European ones (France etc.) that both have density and use public transit a lot.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:11 PM
 
Location: NYC
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Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
Does individualism really correlate that strongly with not using public transit? It might have been mentioned before, but there can be capitalistic cultures (I heard Singapore and Hong Kong in eastern Asia are described as one of the most cut-throat capitalistic societies around) and very socialistic ones, such as the western European ones (France etc.) that both have density and use public transit a lot.
I dont know, it never seemed coincidental to me. Singapore is one of the densest places on tr planet though (?) so efficient private car use is probably just not possible. Very few places in the u.s. can compare. Canada either , which is why I think their slightly less individualstic culture might yield a slightly higher transit ridership.

And I thank you for noting in your op that ridership does not indicate quality. Here in baltore we have high ridership and abysmal quality.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Those cities probably don't use transit less than larger Canadian cities. However, your chart is for overall metro areas, not city limits. In general, Canadian cities tend to be a larger proportion of the population than American cities and Canadian suburbs denser and more transit friendly than American ones.

For example, Toronto has higher mass transit ridership than Chicago but not hugely higher. The cities have similar populations. But the Chicago metro is much larger than the Toronto metro, so even if the transit ridership in the suburbs is the same (which probably isn't) in both, the Toronto metro would have a higher percentage. using public transit.

The numbers for some American cities are lower than I've seen elsewhere.
Hmm, if it's just a matter of definition of city, metro area etc. then that can explain it.

I really would not think the northeast US cities themselves, or San Francisco have that much of a low transit usage.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Nitpicky. DC, Chicago, SF, Boston are all comparable with Canadian cities for transit use, NY significantly higher.

Smaller government = greater purchasing power.
GDP (nominal), Canada is higher than the US (50k vs 48k). GDP (PPP), US is higher than Canada ($48k vs 40k). Mexico's GDP (PPP) is $14,000 and 60-70% transit use.
Suburban sprawl also factors into the PPP by keeping the cost of housing low.
Politically, America also really dislikes big government. We're at all-time low tax levels and yet half the country is raving about taxes being too high.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:26 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
Very few places in the u.s. can compare. Canada either , which is why I think their slightly less individualstic culture might yield a slightly higher transit ridership.
Hmm... But the thing is, a lot of these stats have to do with commuting, which would be work, and also getting around in the city. I don't know if people would feel more individualistic stuck in rush hour traffic, say than taking the trains/buses etc. I would think individualistic car culture use tends to refer more to using the car for fun and leisure, such as going on a trip when you are not tied with job or domestic duties. I think people tend to feel less free and individualistic at work, or commuting to work anyways, because you are at the mercy of where your job is etc. I associate individualism with more freedom to go where you want when you are not tied with duties.

You can use public transit to go to work, and leave the car at home. But then, on your free time/holidays/vacations, you can travel, go to the cottage etc.

Or maybe by individualism, you mean more economic policy, like preferring not to use tax dollars to fund the transportation rather than individualism in social-type culture. I don't think Canadians are less individualistic in some activities that involve being on the road (such as going camping, going to the parks, owning a cottage etc.)
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:30 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
Hmm... But the thing is, a lot of these stats have to do with commuting, which would be work, and also getting around in the city. I don't know if people would feel more individualistic stuck in rush hour traffic, say than taking the trains/buses etc. I would think individualistic car culture use tends to refer more to using the car for fun and leisure, such as going on a trip when you are not tied with job or domestic duties. I think people tend to feel less free and individualistic at work, or commuting to work anyways, because you are at the mercy of where your job is etc. I associate individualism with more freedom to go where you want when you are not tied with duties.
I would think so, too but I've heard some people say that really like the feel driving on their own to get to work but I think most will take whatever is convenient. My stereotypical image of Calgary is that it has more individualistic culture than Vancouver. Yet both have roughly the same transit ridership.

And both Calgary and Vancouver have higher transit ridership than newer American metros (Seattle, Portland, Houston, Denver, Dallas, etc) of similar era.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:02 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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The weather?

[guessing]
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