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Public Transit Use


Public transit use measures to how many people take the bus. The public transit use indicator includes the percentage of people who take the bus to get to work as their primary method.

Why This Matters

Transportation is an important and unavoidable part of our daily lives whether we are going to work, school, or social gatherings. Convenient and well-designed public transit systems can decrease reliance on automobiles and result in a variety of benefits for the environment, community and citizens.

The attractiveness of different modes of transportation depends heavily on the design of transportation networks and urban planning (Ewing, Meakins, Bjarnson, & Hilton, 2011; Ewing & Cervero, 2001). Transit use can be encouraged through improvements in the design, efficiency and user-friendliness of public transit, and designing new suburban expansions with public transit in mind. Public transit use also reduces automobile use, greenhouse gas emissions and the release of other atmospheric pollutants.

Public transit is also linked to health. In particular, public transit users often get more exercise than people who drive because walking is required to get to and from bus stops. This exercise increases the likelihood that users will meet the minimum daily recommendation for exercise which, in turn, can help prevent various illnesses (Besser & Dannenberg, 2005; Lachapelle & Frank, 2009).

Measurement and Limitations

The public transit use indicator measures the percentage of people who use public transit to get to work as their primary method

All members of the labour force aged 15 years and over who worked at some time over the previous year are included. This does not take into account individual variation in the mode of transportation taken to work. For instance, an individual who drives a car to work 60 percent of the time and takes public transit 40 percent of the time would only be recorded as using an automobile. This also does not account for transportation used for outings not related to work.

Additionally, this indicator does not take into account differences in distance. An individual travelling 5 kms to work by bus is not differentiated from someone travelling 15 kms.

Data Source

Statistics Canada collects data for transportation to/from work each census year. Recent data can be accessed at:

Data is updated on Peg as it becomes available from the data providers.


Besser, L.M., & Dannenberg, A.L. (2005). Walking to public transit: Steps to help meet physical activity recommendations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29(4), 273-280.

Ewing, R., & Cervero, R. (2001). Travel and the built environment: A synthesis. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. 1780, 87-114.

Ewing, R., Meakins, G., Bjarnson, G., & Hilton, H. (2011). Transportation and land use. Making Healthy Places, part III, 149-169.

LaChapelle, U., & Frank, L.D. (2009). Transit and health: Mode of transport, employer-sponsored public transit pass programs, and physical activity. Journal of Public Health Policy, 30, 573-594.


Public Transit Use in the Sustainable Development Goals

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11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.

However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure.

The challenges cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The future we want includes cities of opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.

Related Public Transit Use Targets


By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons