Smart Commute wins National Sustainability Award: Federation of Canadian Municipalities recognizes regional commuting program

Toronto, Canada – Smart Commute, the regional commuting program best known for matching up carpoolers online, was recognized as a leading transportation program in Canada last weekend in Quebec City.

This year’s FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Award for Transportation was presented to the Regions of Halton, Peel, York and Durham as well as the Cities of Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto along with Metrolinx at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Annual General Meeting in Quebec City on Saturday.

“We are extremely pleased that the whole Smart Commute program and participating municipalities were awarded this incredible honour,” says Rob MacIsaac, Chair of Metrolinx.  “This award recognizes just how much we can do to make our transportation system more sustainable when we work together.”

With a one-third matching grant from Transport Canada, the Smart Commute Initiative was formed by the cities and regions of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in 2004.  By 2008, the program included nine local Smart Commute organizations from Hamilton to Durham to Central York, and became an official service of Metrolinx.

Smart Commute works with local employers across the region 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 – or the same as if residents smoked more than three billion cigarettes.

“On behalf of FCM, I want to congratulate Metrolinx and the municipal Smart Commute partners of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for winning a 2008 Sustainable Community Award in Transportation,” said the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Winnipeg Councillor Gord Steeves. “Along with winners in other categories, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is contributing creative and practical solutions to some of the critical issues of the environment and sustainable development that governments all over the world face today.”

Since 2000, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Green Municipal Fund (GMF) and CH2M Hill have been recognizing municipal governments across Canada with Sustainable Community Awards for leadership in environmental excellence and innovation in service delivery.

More than 75 employers with almost 200,000 employees have signed on to the Smart Commute program including IBM, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hatch, ING Direct, York University, Messier-Dowty, Maple Lodge Farms, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Enbridge Gas Distribution, and the Canadian Automobile Association.  Members of the public can also access services such as the Carpool Zone at http://www.smartcommute.ca.

Choose Your Way. For more information about Smart Commute visit www.smartcommute.ca.

Metrolinx is a Crown agency of the Province of Ontario, operating within the legislative framework of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act, 2006 and the provincial Growth Plan. For more information visit our website www.metrolinx.com.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Ryan Lanyon                                                                             Jacquie Menezes
Team Lead, Smart Commute at Metrolinx                    Senior Associate, Public Affairs and Media
416-874-5933                                                                           416-874-5923 or cell 647-289-4523
Ryan.Lanyon@metrolinx.com                                          Jacquie.Menezes@metrolinx.com

Backgrounder – Smart Commute Initiative

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)

Commuter Recognition

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%.

Financial Support

  • May 2004 to March 2007 total of $6.7 million:
    • Municipalities = $3.5 million
    • Transport Canada = $2.2 million
    • Private sector = $1 million

Carpool Zone

  • 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

About Smart Commute
Commuter benefits program for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

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