For Karina Maynard, a master’s of planning student in the University of Toronto’s department of geography and planning in the Faculty of Arts & Science, the commute she makes to and from the St. George campus each day is short and relatively easy: she opts to ride her bike.
But commutes vary widely by mode, distance and travel time for the 600,000 university and college students who live in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), with many commutes posing significantly more challenges – and higher stress levels – than Maynard’s daily ride.
That’s why StudentMoveTO, a partnership between 10 regional post-secondary institutions, including U of T, is launching the second phase of a study aimed at generating insights, debates, and actions to improve the transportation experiences of GTHA post-secondary students.
“Data on how students travel isn’t readily available,” says Maynard (left), who is a research assistant for the partnership.
“This data is incredibly important because students move in a very different way than any other subset of the population. They often travel off-peak, maybe coming to campus at noon and leaving at 8 p.m. Each day can be different.”
In 2015, over 15,000 students participated in the first StudentMoveTO study, organized by Toronto’s four universities, into post-secondary students’ daily transportation needs and expectations.
The second, expanded phase of the study, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, launched on Oct. 1 and includes six new partner institutions, including Ontario Tech University, McMaster University, Mohawk College, Sheridan College, Centennial College and Durham College.
The study is led by principal investigator Raktim Mitra of Ryerson University, multiple faculty collaborators and student contributors and U of T co-applicants, including Khandker Nurul Habib, an associate professor of civil and mineral engineering, and School of Cities Interim Director Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor of geography and planning. Partners include community groups, Metrolinx, the provincial transportation planning agency and the City of Toronto.
“Understanding the student travel experience and improving the system for students will improve commuting for all users,” says Siemiatycki.
Maynard adds that evidence-based planning is the best planning.
“By participating in the survey, U of T students can help contribute to a broader conversation about improving the transportation experience,” she says.
Students who have received an email to participate in the survey have until Nov. 15 to respond. Participants also have a chance to win one of fifty $50 campus bookstore gift certificates at their university or college.
With files from StudentMoveTO