Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By

Metrolinx

Partners

Municipalities and transit authorities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area

Results

Between April 2005 and March 2010, kilometers travelled (VKT) were reduced by 105 million, and the number of trips was reduced by 1.8 million. As of March 31, 2009, more than 24,000 tonnes (24,000,000) of greenhouse gas emissions had been prevented, saving close to 8 million litres of gasoline.

Quarterly Report January to March, 2011

Smart Commute - GTA

Smart Commute is a multi-pronged commuter options program in the Greater Toronto, Oshawa and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Two levels of government (municipal and provincial) fund local delivery agents (Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce and NGOs).

Background

Note: To minimize site maintenance costs, all case studies on this site are written in the past tense, even if they are ongoing as is the case with this particular program.

An initiative of Metrolinx and municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, the Smart Commute program seeks to address several challenges: to relieve traffic congestion, improve air quality and health, and reduce emissions that cause climate change. The Greater Toronto, Oshawa and Hamilton Area (GTHA) had a population of 6.7 million in 2009.

The program began in 2001 with the launch of the ‘Black Creek Regional Transportation Management Association’, which served in and around York University in Toronto and neighbouring Vaughan. The number of TMAs had since increased to ten, expanding across the GTHA.

A regional coordinating body and single online ridematching system, the Carpool Zone, were launched by 2005.

Smart Commute was unusual in that two levels of government (municipal and provincial) funded local delivery agents (Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce and NGOs). Diligent planning and marketing have allowed Smart Commute to increase in geographic coverage, number and types of programs as well as impact.

Delivering the Program

More than 170 organizations with 430,000 employees and post-secondary students are active with Smart Commute, making it easier to walk, cycle, take transit, carpool, and telework.

Services include:

  • Carpooling and vanpooling: exclusive ridematching programs for employers
  •  Site assessments and surveys to understand employee commute behavior
  • Shuttle programs\
  • Emergency Ride programs
  • Employee Work Arrangement Solutions: telework, compressed work weeks and flex hours, workshops
  • “Lunch and learns” and seminars
  • Incentives and promotions
  • Clean Air Commute and other fun events
  • SteppingItUp videos and Teachers’ Guide for elementary schools

The Carpool Zone system automatically matched commuters who lived and worked near each other, or along the way, and suggested that they carpool together.

In addition to the Carpool Zone, the Smart Commute program offered a variety of incentives, tools and services to make sustainable commuting a more attractive option. Exclusive discounts on transit passes for local transit service providers were offered. Employees could receive up to 40% off of their monthly pass, when their employer provided a 25% discount which was then matched with a 15% discount from the local transit provider. (Financial Incentives)

 

Results

  • Black Creek TMA decreased the modal share for driving alone from 70% in 1999 to 40% by 2008, resulting in a savings of approximately 12,000 tonnes (12,000,000 kg) of greenhouse gases per academic year (York University Campus).
  • Between 2004 and 2007, Smart Commute helped reduce the number of vehicle kilometers traveled in the region by 75 million and GHG emissions by 17,400 tonnes (17,4000,000 kg).
  • More than 7,000 people use Carpool Zone to arrange carpooling, resulting in GHG reduction of 220,000 kg per month. Between November 2005 and the end of March 2010, the system eliminated 26 million vehicle kilometers (VKT) and 380,000 trips.
  • Combined with other initiatives that encourage cycling, telework and more, the program has had a significant impact on reducing emissions in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Between April 2005 and March 2010, kilometers travelled (VKT) were reduced by 105 million, and the number of trips was reduced by 1.8 million. As of March 31, 2009, more than 24,000 tonnes (24,000,000) of greenhouse gas emissions had been prevented, saving close to 8 million litres of gasoline.

Notes

This case study was written by Robert Rowell.

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