Activity 1

National Survey of Transport Poverty

Academic lead: Catherine Morency - Polytechnique de Montréal
Partner lead: Howaida Hassan - City of Edmonton

Traditional transportation surveys measure when and how people travel to work, school and other important destinations. Planners use this data to predict how new infrastructure, like new roads or rail lines, will change how people travel and how much time they spend traveling. But these surveys rarely measure the day-to-day transportation challenges that residents face, or the barriers that prevent people from traveling where they want to go. Traditional travel surveys also fail to measure the trips people want to make but can’t, whether due to a lack of time, money, or other constraints. These omissions mean that planners are making decisions about the future of our cities without accounting for the full impacts that transportation has on our lives. This presents a major gap in our ability to ensure an equitable and inclusive urban future.  

To remedy this gap, the National Survey working group will conduct Canada’s first national survey on transportation equity and transport poverty. Transportation poverty is defined as experiencing socio-economic disadvantages and a lack of transportation options simultaneously. These two sets of challenges can become mutually re-enforcing, as not being able to afford transportation can make it harder for someone to secure a better job or get needed healthcare, for example. The survey will document the barriers and constraints that Canadians face in their daily travel, as well as their preferences and aspirations for transportation options in their communities.  The survey will also collect rich demographic data often excluded in traditional travel surveys, allowing us to understand what mobility challenges people from different walks of life face. In doing so, the survey will bring to light unmet travel needs across our diverse cities. These results will point policymakers towards the infrastructure investments that can best ensure we leave no one behind.