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UTSC gets smart about commuting

UTSC staff members and students now have a “smart” alternative to use while commuting to and from campus.

The City of Toronto’s Smart Commute Scarborough initiative was recently launched at the Eastern GTA Eco Summit at UTSC. The University of Toronto is one of the inaugural participants.

The program encourages alternatives to driving one’s own car. That includes commuting via public transit, active transit such as walking and biking and carpooling or ridesharing.

In partnership with UTSC’s sustainability office and parking office, Smart Commute Scarborough has posted an online carpooling tool that allows people to register and get matched with people who commute from the same residential area. Registration is free, and people have an option to register as passengers seeking car owners to commute with or as drivers looking for riders to come along.

“It is about making a statement that there is a better way to do things,” says Tim Lang, manager of UTSC’s sustainability office.

A recent survey shows a significant difference between students and staff at UTSC with regards to commuting. According to that survey, 68 percent of undergraduates use local or regional public transit, 8 percent of them drive alone, 15 percent are dropped off, 4 percent do carpool and 5 percent bike or walk.

As for staff members, 70% of them drive to work alone.

Lang notes that, in addition to creating more awareness about environmentally friendly ways of transport, the systems also need to be well designed and sustainable.

“If you want people to use public transit, you have to invest in it to make it nearly as or more convenient than just driving,” he says.

UTSC also runs a bike share program that signs out bikes to students and staff members free of charge. There are plans to increase the number of bikes and the feasibility of installing an automated check-in and check-out system is being assessed with the aim of increasing the convenience and coverage of the program.

© University of Toronto Scarborough