Event sheds light on smart commuting and saving the air

More than 250 people attended Wednesday’s "Getting Vaughan Moving" event, co-hosted by Smart Commute – North Toronto, Vaughan (NTV), the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and restaurant and entertainment venue Dave & Buster’s.

The event, held on June 6 or National Clean Air Day, highlighted transportation demand management strategies, such as carpooling, transit use and cycling, and initiatives that improve air quality such as hybrid vehicles, vanpooling and car sharing. It took place at Dave & Buster’s, just north of York’s Keele campus.

Above: Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield (left) and Brian Shifman, executive director of Smart Commute – NTV, with York’s natural-gas-powered shuttle bus

In the spirit of smart commuting, York University and Enbridge Gas Distribution provided staff and students free rides to the event in their natural gas vehicles. Many of those who attended carpooled, cycled or took transit to the event to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. Guests got to try a Segway, learned how to tune up their bikes and use Zipcar car sharing, signed up for carpooling and heard about efforts to promote sustainability.

The event and speakers promoted solutions to traffic congestion and air quality problems in the area, and encouraged local business leaders to get involved in "smart commuting". Special guests included Donna Cansfield, Ontario’s minister of transportation; Vaughan Mayor Linda Jackson; and Bill Fisch, Chair of York Region. They were joined by councillors from York Region, Vaughan and Toronto, MPPs, and staff from York University, Smart Commute – NTV and the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA).

Cansfield emphasized the importance of encouraging people to choose "smart commuting" options such as HOV lanes and carpooling, mass transit and hybrid vehicles. "Ontarians recognize that we have too much on the line, from our environment, to our economy, to our quality of life to ignore sustainable transportation solutions," said Cansfield.

Vaughan Mayor Linda Jackson officially launched the City of Vaughan’s new Employee Trip Reduction program, implemented in partnership with Smart Commute NTV. The program will encourage and support municipal employees who try alternative modes of commuting. "The City of Vaughan is proud to be taking concrete action to reduce rush-hour commuting trips among its own employees," said Jackson.

"Increasing access to alternative transportation impacts the decisions individuals make about where they live, work, play and study," said Brian Shifman, executive director, Smart Commute – North Toronto, Vaughan. "This event is about highlighting the efforts of business and government to reduce traffic congestion. It is also about promoting ‘smart commuting’ options already available in Vaughan and highlighting upcoming transportation infrastructure improvements such as the Spadina-York subway extension to the Vaughan Corporate Centre and the expansion of the bus rapid-transit network."

To learn more about smart commuting options, visit www.SmartCommuteNTV.ca.