Opportunities and Barriers to Promoting Public Transit Use in a Midsize Canadian City


  • Ajay Agarwal Queen's University
  • Patricia Collins Queen's University


Public Transit, Midsize City


This paper reports results from a survey of commute patterns of Queen’s University employees, the second largest employer based in the midsize city of Kingston, Ontario. Very few systematic analyses of travel behaviour have been reported for midsize cities (i.e., population 100,000 to 500,000). Our survey results indicate that the vast majority of the survey respondents remain firmly entrenched in using a private automobile as their primary commute mode. More than 50% of the employees commute by car, and only 5% commute by transit year round. An interesting finding is that there is some mode switching between private automobile and public transit by season, i.e. drive to work during spring and summer seasons and take public transit during fall and/or winter. These seasonal transit users could potentially be encouraged to use transit more regularly with appropriate interventions. The findings also reveal that unavailability of daily or weekly parking permits on campus forces
the employees to purchase monthly car-parking permits. This is problematic since possession of a monthly parking permit becomes a strong motivation to drive to work regularly, and a strong barrier to even occasional use of public transit. The respondents suggested employer-subsidized transit passes, a more reliable transit schedule, and higher parking costs would encourage them to use public transit more.

Author Biographies

Ajay Agarwal, Queen's University

School of Urban and Regional Planning

Patricia Collins, Queen's University

School of Urban and Regional Planning