Federation of Canadian Municipalities recognizes GTA commuting program
NEWMARKET –The Regional Municipality of York has been recognized for its work on the Smart Commute program by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities at its 2008 Annual General Meeting in Quebec City last weekend. York Region is part of the Smart Commute Initiative, the regional commuting program best known for matching up carpoolers online, in partnership with other municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Hamilton.
“Smart Commute is an excellent opportunity to show leadership by embracing new solutions in a joint venture with our regional partners,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Carpooling, the key component of transportation demand management, works best when it is coordinated across the entire GTA.”
This year’s FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Award for Transportation was presented to York Region along with Metrolinx, the provincial agency formerly known as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, and the Regions of Halton, Peel and Durham as well as the Cities of Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto.
“We are extremely pleased that the whole Smart Commute program and participating municipalities were awarded this incredible honour,” said Rob MacIsaac, Chair of Metrolinx. “This award recognizes the substantial contributions that municipalities have made to make our transportation system more sustainable.”
With a one-third matching grant from Transport Canada, the Smart Commute Initiative was formed by the cities and regions of the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton in 2004. By 2008, the program included nine local Smart Commute organizations from Hamilton to Durham and became an official service of Metrolinx.
York Region encouraged private sector employers to get behind an organized approach. Three transportation management associations (TMAs) now operate in York Region, including Smart Commute 404-7 in Markham-Richmond Hill, the largest TMA in the GTA, Smart Commute Central York that is focused on the Newmarket area and Smart Commute North Toronto and Vaughan, which has served the area around York University since 2001 and served as the model for the wider program.
Smart Commute works with local employers to improve commuter options like carpooling, transit, cycling, walking and telework. The program also operates a public website – the Carpool Zone – where commuters are matched up to form carpools.
In just three years, the Smart Commute Initiative was able to remove the equivalent of 10,000 cars from local roads and highways, saving more than 17,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – enough to fill the Rogers Centre almost six times. More than 100,000 kg of air pollution was also prevented.
Under the coordination of the three TMAs operating in York Region, 38 employers and organizations actively promote alternative ways of commuting, such as carpooling, cycling, transit and workplace programs, to a total of 92,000 employees and students. Some of the key organizations participating in the York Region TMAs include IBM, York University, Southlake Regional Health Centre, the Towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Newmarket, the City of Vaughan and the Canadian Automobile Association.
“There has been a good response from York Region participants in the rideshare matching program,” said Town of Markham Regional Councillor Tony Wong, Chair of York Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee. “We have more than 500 registered users in the Carpool Zone website, resulting in 60 carpools formed.”
The Regional Municipality of York also participates as an employer. Smart Commute York Region encourages employees to reduce commuting through carpooling, biking, walking, using public transit and participating in alternative work programs such as flex time and compressed work week programs.
Across the GTA, more than 75 employers with almost 200,000 employees have signed on to the Smart Commute program. In addition to the organizations in York Region, other notable participants include Hamilton Health Sciences, Hatch, ING Direct, Messier-Dowty, Maple Lodge Farms and Enbridge Gas Distribution.
Since 2000, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund and CH2M Hill have been recognizing municipal governments across Canada with Sustainable Community Awards for leadership in environmental excellence and innovation in service delivery.
Members of the public can access Smart Commute services, such as the Carpool Zone, at www.smartcommute.ca
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Media Contacts: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Specialist, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444, ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
Cell: 905 251-6413 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacquie Menezes, Public Affairs and Media Senior Associate, Metrolinx
Phone: 416 874-5923 or Cell: 647 289-4523
Smart Commute Initiative
The Smart Commute Initiative operated from May 2004 to March 2007 as a partnership of the towns, cities and regions of the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, with partial funding from Transport Canada and private sector partners. The Initiative continued operating and became a program of Metrolinx, in partnership with local municipalities, as of January 1, 2008.
The Initiative established eight new local Smart Commute organizations:
• Smart Commute 404-7 (Markham and Richmond Hill)
• Smart Commute Brampton-Caledon
• Smart Commute Central York (Newmarket and Aurora)
• Smart Commute Durham
• Smart Commute Halton
• Smart Commute Hamilton
• Smart Commute Mississauga
• Smart Commute Northeast Toronto
These were based on the successful model of Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan, which has served the area around York University since 2001 and joined the initiative in 2004.
Results of the Initiative
From May 2004 to March 2007:
• 75 million km of car travel eliminated
• 1.3 million trips by lone drivers eliminated
• 10,000 cars removed from the roads per weekday (2006-07)
• 17,400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions prevented
(equivalent volume to almost six times the Rogers Centre)
• 100,000 kg of air pollution prevented
(equivalent nitrogen oxide emissions to smoking more than three billion cigarettes)
The Smart Commute brand name is recognized by 10% of all commuters who reside within the GTA and Hamilton. Its ridematching service, the Carpool Zone, is recognized by 17%.
• May 2004 to March 2007 total of $6.7 million:
o Municipalities = $3.5 million
o Transport Canada = $2.2 million
o Private sector = $1 million
• Launched November 24, 2005
• Reduction of 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per month
• More than 13,000 users have joined the system
• More than 1,300 carpools have formed