What employers can do for workers
There are thousands of new jobs being created throughout the GTA.
Unfortunately for some workers, they are in zones with such poor transit access that many just drive. Companies locating in these areas can save on municipal taxes compared to downtown Toronto, but employees may have to spend more — on auto-related expenses, or time in buses.
Metro readers have been telling me for years about choppy transit service to suburban commercial parks, about snow-covered or missing sidewalks and non-existent bus shelters.
What can GTA firms do to help ease the commutes of their personnel, besides paying for the parking lot out front? Plenty — but workers and managers have to communicate effectively, and adjacent companies may need to work together.
One of the first things an enlightened employer should do is check out the Smart Commute Association now expanding across the Golden Horseshoe.
From Hamilton to Durham, local organizations bring together public and private sector companies with municipal governments to increase the options for commuters.
This can mean matching employees in a carpool or vanpool, or make it easier to get to work by bike or on foot.
Promoting transit use could involve investigating all the obstacles potential riders now face, like simply getting to the bus stop or knowing the schedule.
Another incentive is a “guaranteed ride home” for those who must work late or need to get home in an emergency. A firm could run a shuttle to the nearest GO station, or take inspiration from the “Lunch Express” bus route in York region.
Find out if your company is taking part in efforts to reduce traffic.
The TTC, for example, offers discounted Metropass to companies.
There are now over 3,400 current users of the ride-matching service and 220 existing carpools. According to a Smart Commute survey 88 per cent of carpoolers are satisfied with the system.
While the provincial ministry of transportation does not support such services with funds, millions of dollars are being spent to extend high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on GTA expressways.
The province is also planning to add to the approximately 20 carpool lots now adjacent to provincial roads. The website www.ontario.ca/hov/has extensive details.
Right now the federal ministry Transport Canada helps fund Smart Commute.
In order for such efforts to continue, however, all governments and the private sector will have to do more to reduce congestion.