By Soofia Omari
A recent study suggests Ryerson students have the second-longest commute among post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), according to the 2019 StudentMoveTO survey.
More than 18,500 students from 10 participating post-secondary institutions participated in the survey, making it the largest and most diverse student data ever collected and analyzed for this topic.
The 2019 results suggest that 48 per cent of surveyed students believed their commute was a barrier to their co-curricular experience. Sixty per cent reported their commute discouraged them from participating in campus activities and events.
Kiara Rudder, a third-year journalism student who commutes from Brampton via local transit and the TTC, said these results don’t surprise her.
“I pretty much didn’t participate in any [campus activities, events] during first-year because a lot of them that I wanted to go to were in the evening at 7 p.m. and they finished at 9 p.m., so I’d be leaving the school at nine and getting home at 11 p.m.,” said Rudder.
“I didn’t wanna be on the bus while it’s so late and so dark.”
StudentMoveTO was launched in 2015 with an aim to “generate insights, debates and actions to improve transportation experiences for post-secondary students,” according to their website.
This study was done by StudentMoveTo in hopes of their findings being used to create changes in the transportation system to enhance the quality of life for commuter students.
According to the survey, 30 per cent of students spend more than two hours commuting to and from campus each day.
Ryerson students have an average commute time of about 56.6 minutes, more than 10 minutes above the overall average of 45.9 minutes among all GTHA post-secondary students.
“I think my commute might have a negative impact on my mental health”
York University students recorded the largest commute time with a 57.4 minute average commute time.
Thirty-one per cent of students said they felt their commute was a barrier to their academic success.
Third-year entrepreneurship and strategy student Alexander Woo said he’s experienced some academic advantages, living just five minutes away from campus at Dundas and Jarvis.
“I’m more likely to use office hours,” said Woo. “I’m not exhausted when I get back to my apartment from class.”
Third-year performance production student Betty Fan said although she doesn’t feel her almost hour and a half commute from Markham is a barrier to academic success, it did impact her in other ways.
“I think my commute might have a negative impact on my mental health and physical well-being,” said Fan. “It can be a bit draining having to get up two hours earlier and, since I’m away from home for so long, I usually pack one meal and have to eat out for my second one.”
The survey also suggests the rise of online learning isolation and loneliness could replace long commutes as a key challenge for students taking online courses.
A study conducted in April by Ipsos shows 68 per cent of young Canadians between ages 18 to 34 have felt lonely or isolated during the pandemic, which is the highest number amongst all Canadians.
On Sept. 17, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi announced the winter 2021 semester would be mostly offered online.
For students like Nelson Liang, a first-year computer science student who would have had an hour commute, this is good news.
“I save on rent, commute money and also time that I can be better spent on catching up sleep or studying. Not to mention the physical drain from commuting—a more tired student learns less efficiently and [it results] in more time needed to study.”