Car-Owning Households up by 355,000 in the GTHA, 88,000 in the City of Toronto, and 26,000 in the Toronto Core since 2006
By: Dr. Frank Clayton
December 13, 2018
Transit investment in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is only keeping pace with population growth, and is not significant enough to result in large-scale shifts in travel behaviour.
Transportation policies have focused on increasing the viability and the use of non-automobile travel in recent years. The 2006 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the Growth Plan) sought to “[reduce] dependence on the automobile through the development of mixed-use, transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly urban environments.”1 The 2017 update of the Growth Plan reiterated the same idea. Likewise, municipal policy documents such as Toronto’s Official Plan aimed to “increase opportunities for walking, cycling, and transit use and support the goal of reducing car dependency throughout the City.”2
Despite these efforts, the results of the Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS), a household survey conducted every five years on regional travel behavior, showed that the ratio of car ownership in the GTHA has seen little change as the total number of vehicles has skyrocketed with population growth.3
Here are some of the key highlights from the survey. (Note that the City of Toronto is referred to as “Toronto” in the text.)4
• The number of car-owning households in the GTHA increased sharply from 1.3 million in 1986 to 2.3 million in 2016.5 The largest area of growth occurred outside of Toronto, but Toronto itself also saw an increase of 164,000 car-owning households. (See Figures 1a and 2a).
• The percentage of households without a car in the GTHA increased from 15% to 16% only between 1986 and 2016. (See Figures 1a). The increase from 21% to 28% in Toronto itself was offset by the decline in these households in the rest of the GTHA. (See Figures 1a and 2a).
• The number of car-owning households in the region has increased steadily both before and after 2006. (See Figure 1a).
• Since 2006, the percentage of households without cars has remained at 16% in the GTHA, and has increased only slightly in Toronto. (See Figures 1a and 2a).