Smart Commute wins National Sustainability Award



    Federation of Canadian Municipalities recognizes regional
    commuting program

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - 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 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.

    Aussi disponible en français

    
                   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
    

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: Ryan Lanyon, Team Lead, Smart Commute at
Metrolinx, (416) 874-5933, or cell (416) 556-3758, Ryan.Lanyon@metrolinx.com;
Jacquie Menezes, Senior Associate, Public Affairs and Media, Metrolinx, (416)
874-5923 or cell (647) 289-4523, Jacquie.Menezes@metrolinx.com


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