The Ministry of Transportation, Metrolinx, the TTC, and 22 municipalities have a special request for the residents of Southern Ontario: keep an eye on your mailbox, you and your household could be randomly selected to participate in the Transportation Tomorrow Survey.
The survey is a regional effort conducted by 25 funding partners that include the TTC, the Ministry of Transportation, and Metrolinx, and has been providing valuable information on the transportation habits of people living and working in Southern Ontario since 1986. Circulated every five years, the survey allows cities and the Province to process the data received and develop a strategy for the future of regional and local transportation.
Originally scheduled for 2021 but delayed due to the pandemic, the survey has been given the unique task of quantifying the changes in transportation habits caused by the pandemic. For one, the movement towards remote work has caused an unexpected and seismic shift in the way that people move through their environment, while factors like worsening traffic conditions, wider availability of rideshare services, and increased awareness of wellness-oriented lifestyles have also altered the public’s relationship with auto-based transportation.
In this way, the data from the 2022 survey is arguably the most valuable data yet in its ability to inform the future of planned transportation infrastructure. Processed by the Data Management Group at the University of Toronto — founded in 1988 for the purpose of studying the Transportation Tomorrow Survey results — the data is used to create complex computer-based models. These can be used to simulate the outcomes of things like fare increases, rapid transit expansions, and how those outcomes vary depending on factors like population density or employment distribution.
The survey will contact 182,000 households across the region via a letter in the mail, informing them that they have been randomly selected to participate. The survey takes 10-20 minutes to complete either by phone or online, and asks the respondents to describe where they went on a recent workday, how they got there, and what the general purpose of those trips were (such as going shopping or to work). The surveys are issued in the Fall in order to curate responses to focus on transportation habits specifically in moderate weather, when fewer people are taking vacation time, and when children are in school. Extra surveys will be undertaken in the spring to fill any gaps and to make sure the survey properly represents the region.
The survey also asserts that transportation methods are not limited simply to vehicles or public transit. Walking, cycling, and running are all valid forms of transportation that contribute to the survey’s data set, as long as they are the means of completing a trip that is not purely recreational (such as taking a dog for a walk).
Participation is ultimately the most important part of the survey, not only for the sake of building data, but for generating a balanced distribution of responses that is reflective of the entire region, not just the urban centres. If you or a member of your household receives the invitation to participate, you have an opportunity to inform the future of transportation. The results are expected to be available by 2024, and will be accessible publicly on the Data Management Group website.
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