It’s a Matter of Time Assessment of Additional Time Budgeted for Commuting to McGill University Across Modes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bike, mode - bus, mode - car, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, planning - surveys, planning - travel demand management, ridership - behaviour, ridership - modelling, ridership - perceptions, ridership - commuting


Commute, McGill University, survey, travel time unreliability


Commute travel time is not always reliable, and individuals often budget additional time to ensure that they arrive at their destination punctually. This additional time allotted for the commute needlessly reduces the amount of time that individuals could have spent performing other activities. This study investigates the amount of additional time commuters allocate to account for travel time unreliability and presents the results with a series of log-linear regression models. Data for this study originated from the 2013 McGill Commuter Survey, a universitywide survey in which students, staff, and faculty described their typical experience commuting to McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Results reveal that drivers allocate the most extra time for their commute, whereas users of other modes (transit, bicycle, and pedestrian) budget about 29% to 66% less than drivers. The findings of this study also indicate that bus commuters add 14% more buffer time per bus taken, and train users budget 11% less time for every commuter train taken. These findings reveal an existing perception that the street network is unreliable (for either buses or cars). Hence, the city should consider implementing strategies such as exclusive bus lanes and variable cost congestion pricing schemes to reduce uncertainty in travel time and improve the reliability of the street network. Such strategies are expected to decrease the level of uncertainty related to commuting to work or school and accordingly reduce the amount of time lost because of additional time budgeted for uncertainty.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.