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The Peripheral journey to work in Vancouver Hickman, Richard Michael

Abstract

The hypothesis of this study is that commuter journeys to employment in the central business districts of large cities are not representative, in terms of trip length and dispersion, of commuter journeys to employment in the suburbs. It is argued that in some larger cities, journeys to suburban or peripheral employment form an important and growing proportion of all work journeys, and that if these are significantly different from the journey to work to the central business district, this will have important implications in future transportation planning, and indirectly in planning the distribution of residences and employment. A short review of existing journey to work literature is presented. The majority of previous studies of the journey to work have been concerned primarily with the commuter journey to the downtown area, or are in such general terms that, without further analysis, it is not possible to identify the patterns and characteristics of the peripheral journey to work. A random sample of employed residents of the City of Vancouver and the Municipality of Burnaby is used to document the characteristics of peripheral work journeys in the Vancouver Metropolitan area, and to compare them with downtown work trips. Vancouver forms a suitable city for a study of the peripheral journey to work as it shows low development densities, a high degree of dependence on travel by car, and a reasonable proportion of employment located in the suburbs. The sample drawn is not large enough and the information not varied enough to conduct a detailed explanatory investigation of the factors influencing the pattern of peripheral work trips. However the descriptive material indicates that peripheral work trips are significantly shorter in length than commuter trips to the central area of Vancouver, and that they show a much greater variety of trip length and trip direction. The results suggest that peripheral work trips are composed of a large number of very small zone to zone volumes, forming a relatively even multidirectional network of trips throughout the suburban area. The present pattern of trips does not appear to be suited to the provision of high or medium volume transit facilities for suburban journeys, and this in turn is a constraint upon the formation of large concentrations of jobs in suburban areas. The interrelationships of urban structure in terms of the distribution of homes and employment, and the suitabilities of alternative transportation modes are discussed, and the need for explicit policy objectives and coordinated land use and transportation plans is stressed. In addition, the evidence suggests that a large proportion of persons employed in the suburbs appear to prefer a more specialised choice of residential location, rather than attempting to minimise the journey to work. It is suggested that the descriptive evidence is sufficient to indicate the distinctiveness of peripheral work journeys from a transportation point of view, and that they are important enough to merit more detailed explanatory studies and special attention in transportation planning.

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