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How commuting can impact quality of education

By Will Sloan

Raktim Mitra

Raktim Mitra, professor at Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, was a researcher on StudentMoveTO. Photo by Clifton Li.


Researchers from four Toronto universities, including Ryerson, have collaborated on a joint research project to study how commuting affects quality of education.

StudentMoveTO is a joint effort between Ryerson, U of T, York and OCAD U. The project was commissioned by the presidents as a collaborative venture to study issues students in all four universities face.

Data was compiled from an online survey distributed last fall to students of all four universities, with more than 2,900 Ryersonians responding. The report discovered that while 54 per cent of Ryerson students take local transit, 22 per cent use regional GO transit on a daily basis. Twenty-five percent of Ryerson respondents live 25 km or more from the school.

“The numbers we received are kind of staggering,” said Raktim Mitra, professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning and a researcher on this project. “For example, our Ryerson report shows that about 40 per cent of our students are spending more than two hours on roads, commuting to and from campus. I wasn’t expecting the number to be this high. About one in every five of our students take the GO Train to and from school—I wasn’t expecting it to be this high.”

Researchers discovered that students are more likely to pick courses based on their commutes, and that students who live far from campus are less likely to come to school on Mondays and Fridays. The survey has implications beyond the campus: students said that changes to transit costs would have a major impact on their mode of transportation.

“At this point, all we have is the data,” said Mitra. “We released a report that summarizes some of the data, but clearly the data has the power to provide more insights. We have now created a large dataset that is publicly available; and we hope that students, professors, policymakers can look at the data and interpret the data, and it would contribute to a more informed discussion around students’ transportation needs and solutions.”

To learn more about StudentMoveTO, go to http://www.studentmoveto.ca/.

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