Canada has a robust transport system that ranks alongside some of the best in the world. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2019 ranked Canada 32nd in Transport infrastructure, with its best scores in road connectivity (98.7) and airport connectivity (96.3). Newcomers can expect to find transport options for all kinds of travel, be it Canada’s metro networks for the day-to-day commute, coast-to-coast railways or international flights.
Canada boasts over 38,000km of highways (as of 2005) that connect all its urban and commercial centres. The extensive network makes it possible to traverse the length of the country by road, provided you have enough gas for it. Major urban centres like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are linked by public transit and metro systems that are a major convenience for newcomers who may not have instant access to private vehicles. The country also has over 46,000 kilometres of railway tracks that ferry people and goods across vast stretches of the country.
The article will attempt to analyze the current situation surrounding Canadian Transportation with an eye on its impact on new immigrants.
Who is responsible for Transport in Canada?
Transport Canada is the federal institution responsible for transportation policies and programs in Canada.
The department is headed by the Minister of Transport and has one of the largest portfolios in the federal government. The Transport portfolio comprises 53 organizations like the Canada Port Authorities, NAV Canada and VIA Rail Canada Inc.
It published the Transportation in Canada 2021 Report, which summarizes the industry’s situation and issues.
What is the situation surrounding Road travel in Canada?
Road travel remains the primary mode of transportation for freight and passengers across Canada. Its extensive network stretches from the Atlantic on one side to the Pacific and covers many small isolated towns between them. The popularity of Road travel is confirmed by the 1.6 million new motor vehicles registered in Canada in 2021, which represents an increase of 6.5% from 2020.
The country has made an enormous leap in the safety department, with a significant decline in motor vehicle casualties over the past decade. Travel Canada has contributed a lot to safer road conditions in Canada by imposing improved vehicle safety standards, stricter regulations, technical standards and testing.
Are personal vehicles the way forward?
Automobiles have salvaged some of their glory as the primary means of transport in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Health and Safety measures coupled with a shift towards remote work and the unfeasibility of mass public transport during the pandemic have all contributed to a growing preference for personal vehicles among the public.
According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, by November 2020, 69.9% of the population preferred personal vehicles as their primary method of transportation.
How do you buy a vehicle in Canada?
Buying a vehicle in Canada is as simple as heading down to the nearest dealership or online automobile marketplaces like Autotrader, Canadian Black Book etc. and buying one.
What is required to drive a vehicle in Canada?
Driving a vehicle in Canada requires three legal documents- a Driving license, Car insurance and vehicle registration. The second and third can be obtained at the time of purchase. Your province will issue a driving license after you clear a written exam and driving tests.
Is a personal vehicle viable for a recent Immigrant?
Immediately going for a personal vehicle as an immigrant is not recommended. Ownership of a vehicle entails other secondary expenditures for gas, maintenance, etc., which can cripple your finances.
What is the cost of owning a vehicle in Canada?
The cost of owning a vehicle depends on factors like fuel costs, insurance, monthly payments for leased vehicles and maintenance requirements, to name a few.
As of 27 September 2022, the daily National average gas price, according to CAA National, was 154.9/L (cents per Litre). The latest retail fuel prices in the provinces can also be found in the Natural Resources Canada site.
Maintenance also contributes to the overall cost of owning a vehicle. On average, maintenance costs in Canada can range from $500 to $700 per year.
Urban Congestion in Canada
The Canadian population is growing steadily, reaching over 38 million in 2021. The distribution of this growth has been uneven and concentrated in the major cities. It has led to many unprecedented issues like traffic congestion.
The United Nations, through its World Urbanization Prospect 2018, projects that urbanization in Canada will reach 88% in 2050, up from 83% today.
The TomTom Traffic Index’s ranking of Canadian cities according to traffic congestion levels is as follows:
|Country Rank||World Rank||City||Time lost per year||Congestion level 2021|
Private vehicle ownership is a significant contributor to the congestion of Canadian roads. The solution for Canada is more public transit systems like the Metro and shared commutes.
Ridesharing services are an excellent option for newcomers in Canada. It alleviates the congestion problem in urban areas and is a convenient, cheaper and reliable alternative to privately owned vehicles.
The service has gained a lot of ground since its introduction. According to Statista, the Car-sharing segment is projected to make US$ 0.43bn in revenue in 2022.
Public Transit and Canadian Metro networks
The data from Statistics Canada shows a growing number of public transit users. The situation has improved since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions start to ease up. There were over 85.8 million trips taken across the Canadian urban transit network in March, representing a 56% increase from March 2021.
The use of public transit will continue to grow as Canada’s urban centres deal with rising traffic congestion. The Montreal Metro, Toronto subway and Vancouver SkyTrain are among the most used mass transit systems serving the most popular Canadian cities. Here’s a brief look at the cost of monthly passes in each city:
- Montreal: The STM (Société de transport de Montréal) is the public transportation enterprise that operates the integrated mass transit network.
|Regular fare||6-11 years/ 12-17 years||Students 18 and over||and over|
|Monthly, all modes A||$ 94.00||$ 56.50||$ 56.50||$28.25|
The full transit fares are listed on their website.
- Toronto: The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) oversees the Toronto Subway and other mass transit systems in the Toronto area.
|Fare type||Adult||Senior (65+) or Youth (13-19)|
|12 Month Pass||$ 143.00||$ 117.45|
|Monthly Pass||$ 156.00||$ 128.15|
The complete Subway fares and passes are listed on their website.
- Vancouver: Translink offers different fares, passes, tickets and Compass Cards to access SkyTrain and SeaBus terminals. They provide monthly passes for unlimited access to these facilities for a month.
|Monthly Passes (Compass card)|
|Pass type||1 zone||2 zone||3 zone|
|Adult||$ 102.55||$ 137.10||$ 185.20|
The complete Pricing and fare zones are detailed on their website.
Canada’s national passenger rail service is provided by VIA Rail on behalf of the government of Canada. The rail network facilitates intercity travel in the densely populated corridors (Quebec- Windsor corridor), Long-distance travel and tourism, and regional services to remote regions.
The VIA’s Annual Report 2021 put the figures at 1.5 million passengers served in passenger trips covering almost 227 million kilometres across Canada. 96% were intercity travel, 2% long-distance and 2% regional.
Bus services are one of the most economical ways for newcomers to travel around Canada. Many services like Greyhound provide accessible ticket prices and a well-connected bus network that connects most of the country.
Taxis are another option for daily commuters in Canada. They can get very pricey based on the city you’re in. The Taxi Calculator, a website that collects data on taxi fares worldwide, listed the cities with the most expensive and cheapest fares in Canada. The costliest were:
The cheapest rates were in:
* The data is based on a taxi ride of 8 km with a duration of 20 minutes in daily traffic.
Walking and cycling
Walking and cycling fall under the active transportation category with other activities like:
- in-line skating/rollerblading
- jogging and running
- non-mechanized wheel chairing
- snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
This form of mobility in urban areas has been the topic of the Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017. The report correlates rising diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases with unhealthy diets, lower physical activity and the rising rates of overweight and obesity. It prescribes better-designed urban environments that encourage active transportation to tackle these health problems.
For a newcomer, active transportation is the default means of transport- it’s free, good for your health and can lead to better socializing opportunities.
What are the most popular modes of transport in Canada in 2022?
According to Statista, the modes of transport used for commuting in Canada for 2022 were:
|Own/ Household car||68%|
|Public transportation/ Mass transit systems (Metro, SkyTrain etc.)||22%|
|Bike rentals/ sharing||1%|
|Motor scooter sharing||1%|
|Own motor scooter||1%|
What is the ideal daily commute for a newcomer?
A newcomer’s ideal mode of transport will depend on various factors, like location, finances and living situation. Many major Canadian cities offer accessible public transit systems, which may not be available in the more rural parts of Canada, where a personal vehicle is often the most convenient mode of transport.
The article should give you a brief idea of the modes of transport in Canada and their accessibility in terms of cost. Keep in mind that transport infrastructure in Canada is evolving, and as the country’s population continues to grow, certain modes of transport will become more prominent than the rest.