Ottawa·Nowhere Fast

Yes, your morning drive is taking longer

More drivers in the National Capital Region are taking at least an hour to get to work, according to a recent Statistics Canada report — an increase that's three times the national average.

Number of commuters facing hour-long drives rose by nearly 14% in just 5 years

It's taking more Ottawa and Gatineau residents 60 minutes or more to commute to work, according to Statistics Canada. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

It's not your imagination. If you drive to work, you're probably spending more time stuck in traffic.

According to Statistics Canada, the drive to work has been getting longer for an increasing contingent of motorists in Ottawa and Gatineau.

The number of drivers who commuted to work for at least 60 minutes swelled from 15,845 in 2011 to 18,045 in 2016, according to Sébastien Larochelle-Côté, one of the authors of a StatsCan study on long commutes published last week.

That's an increase of nearly 14 per cent — triple the 4.6 per cent increase nationally among the same category of drivers.

It's affecting everyone. The average commute is taking more time, no matter how you travel. 

'Long and frustrating'

Annie Ste-Croix estimated it takes her 1 ½ hours to drive 20 kilometres from her home in Orléans to her government job in Gatineau.

There is no viable public transit option, she said, so each work day begins and ends with a "long and frustrating" road trip.

"It does impact my entire day and cuts into family time," said the mother of two young children. "It's 12 or 13 per cent of my day just commuting, so my work-life balance is affected."

But it appears motorists aren't being deterred by the longer drives.

In fact, the study found a 4.6 per cent increase of car commuters in the region (from 432,390 people in 2011 to 452,210 in 2016), compared to a 2.9 per cent increase nationally.

About 58 per cent of commuters in Ottawa and Gatineau who took at least one hour to get work used public transit, according to Statistics Canada. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

Public transit takes longer

Although car commutes are taking longer, they still beat public transit when it comes to getting to work on time.

It takes almost twice as long to get to your destination on a local bus than it does by car.

The average drive to work in the region was 24.7 minutes in 2016, while the ride on public transit averaged 42.2 minutes. Compared with 2011, transit riders are spending nearly four minutes longer on the road, on average.

In Ottawa and Gatineau in 2016, 58 per cent of all commuters who took at least one hour to get to work used public transit, compared to 40 per cent nationally.


This is part of CBC Ottawa's special series Nowhere Fast, a look at how and why people commute in the capital region. 

We'll be looking at the people, numbers and stories that are part of your daily trip to and from work.

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