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Media Release

Metrolinx Releases School Travel Trends Report

TORONTO: April 5, 2016 – Today, Metrolinx released findings of a recent study revealing a downward trend in active school travel across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

The study (smartcommute.ca/schooltraveltrends), conducted by University of Toronto Mississauga Professor Ron Buliung for Metrolinx’s Smart Commute program, uses Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS) data to examine changes in school transportation in the GTHA, from 1986 to 2011. The study shows that as the number of children and youth walking or biking to school has declined over a period of 25 years, the number being driven/driving has more than doubled. In addition, 56 per cent of 11-13 year olds walked in 1986, and 12 per cent were driven to school. By 2011, 39 percent of 11-13 year olds walked, and 31 per cent were driven to school. The results of the study are reflected in an overall report which captures trends for the entire GTHA, as well as individual reports for each region and city.

"The study shows a decline in active transportation to school across the region as a whole," said Professor Ron Buliung. "There's more work to be done to support families, while talking with employers, educators, and the planning and engineering communities about making active transportation part of the daily school travel and overall travel routines of households."

Promoting active school travel supports efforts to reduce traffic congestion in the GTHA, as 20% of peak morning traffic is connecting to getting students to school . This is an important part of Metrolinx’s plan to deliver long-term sustainable transportation and better transit to the region.

An increase in active school travel in the GTHA supports the goals outlined in Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Metrolinx’s RTP sets out a vision that 60 per cent of children in the GTHA will walk or cycle to school by 2031.

Walking, cycling and taking transit to school also provides physical activity, has been linked to improved academic performance and socialization, and fosters further social, economic and environmental benefits for children, families and the broader community.

"Children and youth are the commuters of tomorrow," says Chris Burke, Director of Service Planning at Metrolinx. "It’s important for them to experience different travel options starting at an early age. By working with stakeholders to address barriers to active school travel, we aim to support improved travel choices for families to school and work."

Smart Commute, a program of Metrolinx, is supporting active school travel by collaborating with regional stakeholders through the GTHA Active and Sustainable School Travel (ASST) Hub to help promote and enable active and sustainable school travel and reverse negative trends. The Hub is a network of more than 60 organizations (school boards, municipalities, public health units, parent associations, and non-governmental organizations) that meets regularly. The goals of the Hub include advancing policies, planning and programming that supports parents, caregivers and children to walk, cycle and use transit safely and comfortably to and from school.

To learn more about school travel and to explore a variety of resources and ideas visit the expanded School Travel section of the Smart Commute website.

Metrolinx is working to provide residents and businesses in the GTHA with a transportation system that is modern, efficient and integrated. Find out more about Metrolinx's Regional Transportation Plan for the GTHA. Find out more about GO Transit, PRESTO, and Union Pearson Express, divisions of Metrolinx.

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Vanessa Barrasa
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