Want the safest commute? Take the bus, study suggests

MONTREAL — Looking for a safer commute to work? Lace up your shoes and walk — to your nearest bus stop. People who travel by bus are significantly less likely to be injured in their commute than people who travel by car, a recent study found.

Researchers from the University of Montreal’s Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM) determined buses also cause fewer injuries to pedestrians and cyclists than cars.

The research team examined the ten busiest bus routes in Montreal and compared the risk of injury to people traveling those routes in cars. They studied traffic and injury data in Montreal between 2001 and 2010 and found the odds of injury were four times higher for people driving cars than those riding the bus.

The study also analyzed the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists by bus or car and found that cars caused four times more pedestrian injuries, five times more cyclist injuries, and five times more fatal and severe injuries than bus trips.

“The fundamental point is that pedestrians, cyclists and motor-vehicle occupants are mostly injured where the speeds are highest and where there are the most vehicles, on the major arteries,” says Patrick Morency, an IRSPUM assistant clinical professor and Montreal Public Health Department official, in a release. “The solution? Permanent structure to reduce speeds, and public transit.”

Morency and his team estimated the number of injuries prevented by trips along the 10 routes studies during the study period included 1,805 vehicle occupants, 156 cyclists and 476 pedestrians.

One reason why bus travel is safer is because the drivers are professionally trained and certified. Other reasons are that buses are slower than cars, and they drive on designated routes, staying mostly in the right lane with slower traffic. The authors also say it simply takes far fewer buses than cars to transport the same number of people.

The study was published March 2, 2018 in the Journal of Urban Health.

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