You never know how many hours you will spend in the office on a given day, but one thing that is fairly predictable is the time of your morning and evening commutes. We huff and and puff when the subway is crowded or the higway is jammed with cars, and we act as if these are complete suprises. We like to pretend that our morning commute is always a brisk and easy 15 minutes with a hot cup of coffee in hand and an empty seat to rest, never accepting the reality of how long it will take and the obstacles that will predictably overwhelm us. With this in mind, I did an informal poll of CBB students to find out how they were getting to work, how long it was taking, and where they were coming from. Those numbers yield some interesting results!
First, two maps that show where everyone is coming from every morning. The first map is a wide view to include our lone student who lives in Ajax, the second is a closer view of Toronto itself. Students are in blue and the Cassels Brock offices at King and Bay is the red icon. Note only two students are commuting from outside the Toronto city limits (in Ajax and Thornhill).
The vast majority of students are living south of the 401, between Allen Road and the DVP. Given that students aren’t driving a Mercedes to work yet, these addresses make sense given our reliance on public transportation. In fact, more than half of all students live at or below Bloor Street. A simple use of geometry would reveal that the “average” student lives around the University of Toronto campus.
Statistics and Commentary (for round trip, morning and evening commute)
Furthest commute (distance): 77.4 km. This would be our student residing in Ajax who takes the GO Train to get to work every day.
Longest commute (time): 120 minutes. Interestingly, this is not our GO Train commuter, but our student living in Thornhill, who drives to Finch station and then takes the subway in to work. Living in the suburbs can be made up for by living close to a good transit route to dodge traffic.
Shortest commute (distance): 1.5 km, 20 minutes This gentleman walks to work every day from roughly Queen and University. Arguably, he need only wake up at 8:20 am each day then shave and eat a granola bar while walking to work.
Total time difference between shortest and longest commute as of July 22: 76 hours, or 7.6 hours per week. This is where the more analytical point of my research comes in. The student with the shortest commute saves almost 8 hours a week over the longest commuter. Especially in an Articling position, where time is at a major premium, saving this amount of time on a weekly basis can be the difference between catching up on laundry, cooking dinner, or staying on top of your workload at the office. Living downtown can be more expensive, but there will always be more money. Time, once passed, never returns. Conversely, if living farther away means living with one’s parents, the additional commuting time can be offset by the time saved on things like grocery shopping, laundry, and general home infrastructure that would not be so organized should one be living solo.
When picking a home base, it is crucial to take into account the amount of time you are prepared to commute to do so. The mental comfort that comes with accepting one’s commute is key. That magical day free of highway traffic or subway delays will never come, no matter how much we delude ourselves that today’s tribulations are an exception.
The chart below lays out the one-way commuting time and distance by student, which are the plot points. Note that the rises in distance do not lead to a similarly-shaped line with regards to time. This is because of the chosen methods of transport and proximity to public transit stations.
Modes of Transportation: We students use a number of methods of transportation. Some combine several into a day (drive to kayak depot, kayak to subway station, take subway to downtown, light jog from subway station to work). When I count “walking” I’m counting anything longer than a few minutes, not simply stepping out the door before getting on a hoverbike.
Mean daily commute: 15.9 km, 58 minutes. The “average” student will travel just shy of 8 km each way, will take the subway and walk, and will likely have enough time to read one section of a newspaper. (Or one average podcast.)
Median commute: 7.0 km, 50 minutes. I looked at the medians as well because one or two long commutes can obscure what the typical experience truly is. Some rough plotting on the above maps reveals that the “average ” Cassels student thus lives around University of Toronto campus and takes 25-30 minutes to commute each way.
Total distance commuted by students as of July 22: 13,151 km This is approximately the distance between Toronto and Cape Town, South Africa. This is not a recommended daily commute unless you come prepared with the largest Sudoku puzzle known to man.
Total time spent commuting by students as of July 22: 47, 932 minutes or 33 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes. This is roughly equal to the total amount of time spent in class over the first two years of law school. Or 247 viewings of the movie “Titanic.”