Walking to transit: An unexpected source of physical activity

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, policy - sustainable


Transit, Public transportation, Walking, Physical activity, Steps


Using data from a regional survey carried out in Montreal, this paper shows empirical evidence that modal shift from car to transit contributes to the volume of daily physical activity. First, the paper presents a method to calculate the walking distance related to transit trips, and a totally disaggregate trip assignment model. The walking distance involved in every transit trip is then associated to the individuals' characteristics to estimate the number of steps made by the population in the whole transit system.

Results show that, in average, a transit trip involves 1250 steps, required to access and egress the network as well as to transfer between routes or modes. Thus, a round trip represents 2500 steps, which account for 25% of the recommended volume of physical activity per day. Hence, analysis shows that the volume of walking varies according to attributes of the traveler (general decrease with age, higher for men) and of the trip (study and work trip involve more steps, the use of train generates more steps). A regression model confirms that these variables significantly affect the number of steps involved in transit trips. Such positive outcome, for the traveler himself, is an innovative argument to promote the use of transit that is also aligned with current sustainable transportation goals.


Permission to publish this abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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