Downtown population growth and commuting trips: Recent experience in Toronto

  • Nowlan D
  • Stewart G
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In Toronto in recent years, commuting trips to the Central Area have not risen as rapidly as would be expected from the growth in downtown office space. Various explanations have been suggested. In this article, we show that the rising residential population in the Central Area has served to reduce inbound commuting trips below what they otherwise would be. For reasons dis- cussed in the article, it is normally difficult to quantify the effect on commuting of downtown housing growth or population intensification. By recognizing these difficulties and testing our re- sults in various ways, we have been able to esti- mate that, on average since 1976, for each 100 additional dwelling units in the Central Area there has been a reduction of approximately 120 inbound trips during the morning three-hour rush period. This finding indicates the potential for the use of housing policy as a land-use plan- ning instrument, one that could help mediate the conflict between continued commercial office growth downtown and the desire to preserve the quality of the downtown residential environ- ment, which is threatened by the construction of major new commuting facilities, particularly roads, to serve that office growth.

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  • David M. Nowlan

  • Greg Stewart

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