Environmental Concerns Now Driving GTA Commuters



    Many Thinking of Quitting Jobs to Relieve Stress and Work Closer to Home,
    Study Finds

    TORONTO, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Commuting exacts a toll much heavier than even
those on the roads realize, a new Greater Toronto Area commuter study shows.
    Funded by Transport Canada, Living Green and SuiteWorks Inc., the GTA
Commuter Behavior Study reveals concern for the environment, high stress
levels, frustrations over lost family time and much more.

    
        Among the highlights:
           -  Two-thirds think of quitting their jobs to work closer to
              home;
           -  Most think about the environment and worry about the Greenhouse
              Gas emissions they are adding to the atmosphere;
           -  Commuters are spending $200-$300 more per week on commuting
              than they actually think;
           -  Most long-distance commuters "hit a wall" after five years and
              want to stop commuting cold turkey.
    

    "This survey tells us a great deal about the busy lives of GTA
commuters," said Peter Bursztyn, Chair of Living Green, an environmental
organization based in Barrie. "Many have special challenges, struggling to
find time for their families, hobbies and community work. But what's
particularly revealing is the consideration these people give to the effects
of commuting on the environment."
    Commuters travelling south to the GTA along the Highway 400 corridor were
invited to fill out an on-line questionnaire about their commuting attitudes
and patterns, as well as thoughts about telecommuting.
    Aware of the busy lifestyle of these people, project organizers "drove"
them to the online survey, intercepting some 3,000 potential respondents at
gas stations, coffee shops, park 'n ride locations and other venues. Since 231
took the time to respond, the study is considered an accurate reflection of
the commuter population +/- 6%, 19 times out of 20.
    "Each online survey took about 30 minutes to complete," said Peggy
Staite-Wong, co-author of the report and partner in The Resource Management
Consulting Group. "For such busy people, we were asking a lot of their time.
And they have provided us with tremendous insight into the reality of
commuting around the GTA or anywhere, for that matter."
    To arrive on time to work, most of these Highway 400 commuters allocate
between 1 and 1.5 hours for their one-way travel, leaving home between 5 and 7
a.m. The average commute is 93 kilometres each way.
    Most of these commuters worry about the environment and the impact their
cars have on the atmosphere. "This high level of environmental awareness is
something I am pleased to learn from this project," said Scott McCrindle,
Chairman of the GTA Commuter Behavior Study and Living Green member. "Our
respondents are obviously making the connection between commuting and
Greenhouse Gas emissions. It's imperative to support this kind of awareness."
    Three quarters of respondents think about the impact of commuting on
global warming to some degree and one quarter are taking active steps to
reduce their contribution to global warming; 10 per cent are fully committed
to this cause.
    Adds Mr. McCrindle: "23 per cent are carpoolers. Even if we take those
60 per cent who drive to work alone, this number is still much lower than
seven years ago. In a 2000 survey, it was 90 per cent."
    Commuters view telecommuting and flexible work arrangements as
alternatives to commuting. Sixteen per cent of the respondents whose jobs are
compatible already work at home or at an office close to home at least one day
a week, the survey showed. Sixty per cent would consider telecommuting.
    "While we know a lot about car pooling, there's a lack of awareness about
telecommuting and various distributed work models as another environmentally
sound alternative to commuting," said Ms. Staite-Wong. "What is leading edge
about this project is that an environmental group is working with business and
government to help find a solution to an environmental problem. This is a huge
step forward and part of a new model that will have to be adopted in the
future."
    Adds John Cameron, President and CEO of SuiteWorks, a distributed work
solutions provider that offers professional office spaces closer to commuters'
homes, "Thanks to technology, a lot of people can do their work closer to
home, reserving just a day or two for meetings in the office. That way, they
can work without office distractions and they don't need to worry about
traffic or bad weather. And air pollution is reduced."
    Surprisingly, driving expenses were not as much of a concern for most
long-distance commuters surveyed in the project. "Many of them are worried
about such things as rising gas prices and car maintenance," said Erich
Jacoby-Hawkins, of Living Green, "Still, most think they only spend $100-$200
per week commuting. In reality, they pay twice as much."
    Based on the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) rate of $.43/km, the
weekly cost of the 200-kilometer round-trip is $430. This estimate is based on
the cost of operating fuel-efficient sedans that most respondents choose for
their commute.





For further information:

For further information: about the GTA Commuter Behavior Study contact:
Scott McCrindle, Chair, GTA Commuter Behavior Study, (705) 796-3218,
scott@mccrindle.com; Natalia Smalyuk, (416) 606-5844, nsmalyuk@hotmail.com;
Bob Brehl, (416) 994-1470, bob@abc2.ca


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