Access Walking Distance, Transit Use, and Transit-Oriented Development in North York City Center, Toronto, Canada

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - transit oriented development, ridership - mode choice, place - low density, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, mode - pedestrian


Walking distance, Underground railways, Travel behavior, Transportation Tomorrow Survey, Transit oriented development, Toronto (Canada), Subways, Suburbs, Rapid transit, Mode share, Mode choice, Modal split, Modal choice, Lifestyle, Land use, Heavy rail transit, Choice of transportation, Case studies, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Automobile ownership


This study had two main objectives: to examine how variations in walking distance to rapid transit are related to mode choice as well as to auto ownership and use and to investigate whether temporal changes in the built environment associated with transit-oriented development in close proximity to rapid transit (subway) service encourage residents to use transit. The city of Toronto, Canada, and one of the fastest-growing suburban centers of Toronto—the North York City Center located near the northern edge of Toronto on the Yonge subway line—were selected as case studies. With the 2001 Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS) data, a quantitative analysis was employed; it focused on home-based trips by using the city’s subway network to demonstrate how walk-access distances to rapid transit are related to subway mode share, auto ownership, and auto use. Further analysis was undertaken to examine the temporal changes in land use and related travel behavior over a 15-year period by comparing TTS data for 1986 and 2001. The results of the analyses illustrate quantitatively the strong association between convenient walk access, lifestyle, and transit use, not only during peak hours but also throughout the day. The results show how the promotion of focused development within a convenient walking distance of rapid transit service in a relatively low-density suburb of Toronto has, over 15 years, been accompanied by a substantial shift in residents’ travel behavior toward increased transit use.