This carpooling program has been used with over 300 institutions however at Humber it’s not as popular as it could be.With the growing concerns over global warming, more and more institutions are putting in work to reduce pollution levels. Humber College, amongst other schools and workplaces, has partnered with the Smart Commute program, a web-based tracking and matching tool that tracks how users travel to school and work.
The tool records distance travelled, the amount of CO2 produced and the approximate cost of the trip. It also suggests alternatives to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
However, its most significant element is the matching portion, where users can create an account, insert their location and the tool will then match the user with someone else living in the same area and traveling to the same location; making carpooling easier.
Although the Smart Commute program has partnered with Humber College since 2013, not many students or faculty are aware of its existence. 20-year-old Christopher DeTorres says he takes transit to get to campus but on occasion will drive to school. DeTorres says he wasn’t aware of the tool and can see how it would be a cost efficient and eco-friendly but says it’s not well-suited for students. “It’s not realistic in an everyday standpoint cause most students don’t have the same routine every day,” said DeTorres.
“I guess it can act like a Fitbit app that tracks your steps but instead it tracks your eco footprint.”
Lindsay Walker is the manager of the office of sustainability at Humber College and oversees the programming and initiatives to promote eco-friendly living.
“The tool is only as good as the number of people that use it,” said Walker.
Users of the tool at Humber also receive reserved parking if they carpool to school. Students or faculty members that pay for a parking pass can exchange that pass for a reserved parking spot on campus and can then split the cost of one pass with their carpool. These reserved spots can also be attached to more than one license plate allowing other members in a carpool to switch between vehicles used.
Walker said the office of sustainability is looking at more ways to promote the tool and create more awareness through initiatives such as Carpool Week where users can login in their trips through Feb. 4 – 10 and be entered for a chance to win a $250 Presto card.
UrbanTrans is the solutions group behind the Smart Commute program assisting in promoting the tool to different workplaces and colleges. They’ve recently unveiled an app called Commute Tracker, which tracks the transportation patterns of users, using location data from their phones.
Adam Arnold is a programs manager at UrbanTrans and agrees it can be difficult for students to use the tool because of inconsistent schedules. But he hopes they will try the app to track their mode of transportation and become aware of the time and energy used to get to their destination “We certainly would love to see more people tracking, especially now with the app where they can passively log in their trips,” said Arnold. “So, we certainly look at campaigns and how we can incentivize more.”
Program specialist Adrienne Boyd says the app is currently in its early stages and can only track modes of transportation but not yet match users to available rides.
“We would like to encourage people to get over these ingrained habits to get those immediate savings, real gratification like being able to use HOV lanes,” Boyd said in regard to getting more students to use the tool.
“When people keep their head down and keep doing the same things over and over they miss out on a lot of opportunities, so if people push themselves more to explore I think a lot of them would be surprised.”