Providing Transportation Choices: The Region of Durham Experience


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Written by: Jeffrey Brooks, MCIP, RPP, Ramesh Jagannathan, P.Eng, PTOE, Colleen Goodchild, MCIP, RPP
Presented at: Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers, Toronto, May 2007

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Providing Transportation Choices: The Region of Durham Experience

  1. 1. Providing Transportation Choices: The Region of Durham Experience Jeffrey Brooks, MCIP, RPP, Ramesh Jagannathan, P.Eng, PTOE, Colleen Goodchild, MCIP, RPP The Regional Municipality of Durham is developing a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program that will encourage the efficient use of the regional transportation system by supporting alternative methods of transportation for commuting, and will reduce dependence on automobiles. The program will be consistent with the Region’s Official Plan, Community Strategic Plan and Transportation Master Plan, as well as the Region’s efforts towards the GTA-wide “Smart Commute” initiative. The TDM Program for Durham will aim at achieving a target of reducing the projected peak period automobile driver trips for 2021 by 15%. It is estimated that this will require a reduction of about 60,000 afternoon peak period single-occupant vehicle trips in 2021, through measures such as:  Promoting more efficient modes of transportation such as transit, carpooling, walking and cycling;  Diverting travel to off-peak periods (e.g. through employee-employer work arrangements, such as flextime); and  Reducing the overall number of trips through alternative work arrangements such as telecommuting, and through effective land-use planning that achieves balanced and mixed use developments. This paper focuses on the Region of Durham’s experience in:  Developing a comprehensive TDM program that will meet the needs of residents and the business community;  Examining alternative TDM delivery models (including the development of a Transportation Management Association);  Implementing an employee work trip reduction program for its employees; and  Participating in a Federal, municipal and private funding partnership.
  2. 2. 1. INTRODUCTION In July 2003, the Region of Durham developed a Community Strategic Plan entitled “Growing Together”. One of the key objectives of this Plan is to support the development of alternative modes of transportation (e.g. transit, carpooling, walking and cycling), in order to achieve a sustainable transportation system. To facilitate the implementation of this objective, the Region’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP), developed in December 2003, provides direction for the development of a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program. The Program is essential to achieving the TMP’s target of diverting approximately 60,000 trips during weekday afternoon peak periods, from single-occupant vehicle travel to alternative modes of transportation, by the year 2021. To further its newly established role in TDM, the Region also participated in a Greater Toronto Area (GTA) wide pilot project called the Smart Commute Initiative. This initiative is aimed at promoting the use of alternative modes of transportation, and includes representation from various GTA municipal agencies and funding support from Transport Canada. As part of Smart Commute, and consistent with its Community Strategic Plan and TMP, the Region is developing a comprehensive TDM Program. 1.1 Transportation Challenges During the past decade, the Region has made significant improvements to its transportation system, resulting in improved safety and traffic operations. The Region’s commitment to operating and expanding transit service, with the recent formation of Durham Region Transit in 2006, will further broaden transportation choices available to meet the growing needs of commuters. Notwithstanding anticipated investments in road and transit infrastructure, the safe, efficient and reliable movement of people and goods will become increasingly more important and challenging as the Region continues to grow. Sustaining this growth will require solutions beyond infrastructure expansion. Implementation of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures is part of the solution. 1.2 Transportation Demand Management TDM promotes more efficient use of the transportation system by influencing the mode or time of travel through such measures as:  Strategies that enable carpooling, vanpooling and teleworking;  Alternative work arrangements that enable “spreading” of peak period travel;  Incentives such as “bulk purchase” discounted transit passes;  Shuttle services to locations of concentrated activity;  Amenities such as bike lockers and shower facilities at work places to promote active forms of transportation, such as cycling and walking; and  Designated parking spaces to promote carpooling. 2
  3. 3. The application of TDM Measures can create a more sustainable transportation system by reducing the demand for automobile use, especially during peak commuting periods. The measures can provide an array of “direct” benefits to the user (e.g. reduced traffic congestion), as well as “indirect” or societal benefits (e.g. reducing or deferring infrastructure costs; improving air quality; and, conserving energy). In addition, from an employers’ point of view, TDM measures such as alternative work arrangements have the potential to reduce employee absenteeism, increase productivity, and minimize employee turnover. 2. A CASE TO EXAMINE TDM 2.1 Facing Gridlock As the eastern anchor of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the Region of Durham is experiencing rapid growth and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Recent forecasts show the Region’s population increasing from 590,000 in 2006 to 960,000 in 2031, and its employment increasing from 190,000 in 2006 to 350,000 in 2031.1 Figure 1 – Existing and Designated Urban Areas 3
  4. 4. With this growth in population and employment, there will be a corresponding increase in the number of trips to the Region originating both within and outside of the Region. From 1989 to 2006, growth in vehicle trips was greatest at the Toronto-Durham boundary, where there was an increase of 76% or more than 91,600 vehicles during a 12-hour period.2 The total daily number of person trips made within the Region in 2001 was about 1.1 million trips.3 Given current growth rates, this is expected to exceed 2 million trips by 2031. “More than 70% of major highways in the Greater Toronto Area are now congested in peak periods. Off-peak congestion is also occurring in many parts of the GTA. Without alternatives to highways, congestion is forecast to increase dramatically throughout the GTA over the next twenty years. The cost of congestion to businesses could reach $3.0 billion annually, or 1.3 percent of regional GDP by 2021.”4 In Durham, the effects of traffic growth are compounded by the following trends observed since the early 1990’s:  Peak period transit ridership, as a percentage of total trips, has been declining (although recent data suggests modest growth in transit ridership especially since the service improvements and fare structure changes implemented as a result of regionalizing transit in Durham in 2006);  Peak period walking and cycling, as a percentage of total trips, is declining;  Vehicle occupancy is declining, as the amount of single occupant vehicle travel continues to increase; and  Duration of “peak period” traffic appears to be getting longer, which is an indication that roadways are operating near capacity.5 While the GTA and the Durham Region transportation network is comprised of an integrated system of roads, railways, public transit routes and trails, it is clear that without the implementation of proactive measures to address traffic growth, congestion on the network will increase. 2.2 TDM Solutions – Curbing Gridlock In the past, it had been possible to meet increased travel demands by merely providing new roads, expanding existing roads or improving signal timings. However, it is now recognized that employing “supply side” solutions is only part of the solution. Consideration must also be given to the “demand side” of the transportation equation, by providing an array of travel options to commuters. While TDM measures cannot by themselves accommodate all of our forecasted travel demands, they can be useful in reducing or delaying road expansions. 4
  5. 5. Recent opinion surveys undertaken by the Region in the development of the TMP, and the 2005 Commuter Attitudes Study conducted by the Smart Commute Association for the GTA Regions and the Cities of Toronto and Hamilton, indicate that although commuters recognize that congestion is a growing problem, they do not believe that reasonable alternatives exist. Over two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed do not see themselves, in the foreseeable future, switching from their current mode of transportation to another mode. Their primary reasons for not switching include: having no other available options, inconvenience (wait time), and satisfaction with their current commute arrangement. The main factors that influence travel choices are: travel time (26%), convenience (22%), and commuting costs (21%).6 While TDM measures can influence mode choice, the frequency of trips, the length of trips and time of travel, the commuter must consider these measures viable to his or her need. To meet these needs, issues of convenience, cost and timing must be addressed through a comprehensive TDM program. 2.3 Benefits of TDM While TDM measures can provide an array of transportation benefits, they also provide environmental, societal and economic benefits. 2.3.1 Environmental In Canada, the transportation sector is responsible for 40 to 50% of the emissions of smog- forming pollutants and represents the largest source of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.7 Despite the reduction of national levels of common pollutants, poor air quality remains a problem in large urban areas. Concentrations of these pollutants have reached unacceptable levels at times, resulting in an increased number of smog days per year. In 2005, the Ministry of Environment issued 15 smog advisories resulting in 53 smog days for the GTA, the highest number of smog days recorded in 10 years. Scientific evidence also suggests that climate change is accelerating. While global warming is a natural part of the Earth’s climate cycle, recent trends suggest that human activities such as transportation are having a detrimental influence effect on the atmosphere. The Federal Government has indicated an intent to develop and pursue a “made in Canada” plan to address environmental concerns. It is expected that a strategy to reducing emissions from the transportation sector will be a key component of this plan. Given the impacts of transportation on the environment, it is clear that TDM measures which focus on reducing auto dependency, especially during peak periods, will contribute significantly to an improved environment. TDM can help …  Reduce smog levels;  Reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to the transportation sector;  Conserve non-renewable energy sources; and 5
  6. 6.  Reduce the overall impact on the ecosystem. 2.3.2 Societal Transportation is a basic need of all Canadians. It impacts our daily choices, by influencing our ability to move freely and efficiently accessing goods and services, employment, recreational and educational opportunities. However, transportation poses a cost to human health and quality of life. These costs range from physical stress due to travel on congested freeways, to respiratory and other health problems resulting from vehicle emissions, to road safety and monetary impacts. For example, traffic accidents account for half of the accidental deaths experienced in Canada each year. TDM can …  Reduce the number of hours spent commuting, thereby reducing travel related stress and providing more time to engage in other pursuits;  Reduce exposure to pollutants that cause human health problems; and  Reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway which could curtail the number of traffic related injuries and fatalities. 2.3.3 Economic Transportation plays a vital role in the overall competitiveness of the economy. An efficient transportation sector is key to domestic and international trade. The economic impacts of congestion and inadequate transportation service levels are considerable. Congestion directly impacts goods movement and creates economic costs to industry through reduced productivity and time lost, while traffic congestion can deter new businesses from locating in the Region. From the economic standpoint of a commuter, switching from automobile to another mode of transportation can present significant cost savings. For example, a recent study by the Canadian Automobile Association estimated the average annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle, based on driving 18,000 kilometres a year, as approximately $9,900.8 By comparison, a regular user of Durham Region Transit would spend only $1,050 annually for transportation, based on current monthly pass prices. TDM can …  Reduce congestion on goods movement corridors, thereby providing an economically competitive environment over other regions;  Reduce fuel consumption and thereby overall travel costs; and  Lessen the market’s dependence on non-renewable energy resources. 3. POLICY FRAMEWORK 6
  7. 7. Although the acronym “TDM” has been in use only since the mid-1980s, the concept first emerged during World War II when drivers were urged to carpool for the purposes of energy conservation. In 1974, the concept became institutionalized as part of the Transportation Management System (TMS) requirement in the United States. Since that time, in the United States, TDM has been stipulated explicitly in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1994 (ISTEA); Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990; and numerous local traffic reduction ordinances, development agreements and transportation plans. Until recently, TDM has not received the attention in Canada that it has in the United States. However, senior and local levels of government have started to incorporate TDM into their respective policy documents. This chapter provides an outline of enabling government policies for the implementation of TDM in Durham. 3.1 Federal In October 2000, the Federal Government released its Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change. Targeting key sectors, this plan included key initiatives in transportation, energy, industry, buildings, forestry and agriculture, international projects, technology, and science. These sectors account for more than 90 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the initiatives launched under this Action Plan is the Urban Transportation Showcase Program, discussed later in this document. The Federal Government has also announced its intent to develop and pursue a “made in Canada” plan to reduce pollution levels and address climate change concerns. Also as part of the 2006 budget, with the objective of promoting transit as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, the Government introduced a tax credit for people who buy monthly or annual passes for public transportation. 3.2 Provincial In June 2006, the Provincial Government of Ontario released a Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, which includes Durham. The plan is intended to implement the Province’s vision for managing growth and developing stronger communities. This vision includes an integrated multi modal transportation network that will provide the public with choices for easy travel, both within and between urban centres throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The growth plan also calls for improved public transit, less congested roads and a focus on active transportation (i.e. walking and cycling). In particular, the Plan requires that “upper and single-tier municipalities will develop and implement transportation management policies in their official plans or other planning documents, to reduce trip distance and time, and increase the modal share of alternatives to the automobile.” 7
  8. 8. Furthermore, the Province has recently established a Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA), whose mandate includes developing and implementing management strategies and programs relating to transit and transportation demand. 3.3 Regional In 2003, the Region of Durham adopted a Community Strategic Plan (CSP), which provides a vision of the future for Durham. To achieve this vision, the Plan articulates several strategic objectives. One of these objectives focuses on strengthening and integrating the Region’s transportation system. The CSP is supportive of alternative modes of transportation and advocates for transportation improvements to address commuter needs. The Regional Official Plan and the TMP are also consistent in this regard. Working towards a sustainable transportation system, the TMP set a target of 15% reduction in single-occupant vehicle travel by the year 2021. To achieve this target, the TMP recommended that the Region: “Develop a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program to reduce projected year 2021 peak period automobile driver trips by 15% below forecasts based on current trends, focusing first on actions to promote:  Transit, pedestrian and cycling-oriented development through land use management;  Walking, cycling and ridesharing; and  Use of transit and other public transportation services.” The TMP analysis estimated that achieving the 15% reduction target would require diverting approximately 60,000 peak period trips from single-occupant vehicles to alternative modes of transportation. 4. WORKING COLLECTIVELY - The “Smart Commute” Experience Since the late 1980s, TDM has gained profile in the United States and become mainstream through regional ridesharing agencies, transportation management associations, employers and development agreements. While places such as Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, have well established TDM programs, the practice in Canada is just emerging. A number of TDM initiatives are taking place in the GTA, however these initiatives are in their infancy. Some municipalities have adopted TDM programs and are working towards their implementation, but most are still grappling with the issue of demand management. In 2003, Durham confirmed its participation in a pilot project called the Smart Commute initiative. With the objective of delivering TDM measures across the GTA and Hamilton, the Regions of Durham, York, Peel and Halton, and the Cities of Toronto and Hamilton, jointly pursued funding under Transport Canada’s Urban Transportation Showcase Program for this initiative. Awarded in the spring of 2004, Smart Commute is a public-private partnership that aims at managing the demand for transportation through the use of innovative strategies to create 8
  9. 9. more travel choices, offer incentives for shared forms of travel and reduce the dependency on single-occupant vehicle travel. The three main goals of Smart Commute are to:  Reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions;  Reduce the severity and duration of traffic congestion; and  Enhance accessibility and mobility options. To achieve the program goals, its objectives include:  Increasing the use of travel alternatives as opposed to the single-occupant vehicle;  Maximizing the use of less congested travel times and travel routes; and  Reducing trip frequency and distance, eliminating some trips altogether. Smart Commute is delivered through a two tier administrative structure comprised of a central coordinating body called the Smart Commute Association, and a network of locally based Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). The focus of the Smart Commute Association has been: research on TDM best practices; developing an online ridematching program; marketing and promotion of TDM measures; and, the development of a TDM Toolkit. Figure 2 – Smart Commute Structure Smart Commute Association Steering Committee Advisory Committee Executive Technical Director Committee Program Program Marketing Coordinator Assistant Coordinator Administrative Assistant Smart Smart Smart Smart Commute Smart Commute Commute ..... Commute TMA 3 Commute TMA 1 TMA 10 TMA 2 TMA 9 Network of TMAs To implement the objectives of the Smart Commute Association locally, TMAs have been formed in North Toronto/Vaughan, Markham-Richmond Hill and Mississauga. TMAs are also being investigated, or have been recently launched, in: Central York-Aurora; Northeast Toronto; Downtown Toronto; Brampton; Halton; and Hamilton. Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) are non-profit, member-controlled organizations aimed at providing sustainable transportation solutions as well as improved mobility and accessibility in a defined geographic area. In addition to implementing TDM 9
  10. 10. programs, TMAs are responsible for generating local funding, and sharing information with local government on transportation services in areas with a concentration of employment, residents, students, and/or visitors. To date, Durham has been an active participant in the administration and operation of the Smart Commute Association and the development of a TDM toolkit. The viability of a TMA or an alternative model to deliver TDM services in Durham is now being assessed. It is through the development of a TDM program, in coordination with Smart Commute, that an appropriate delivery model for Durham will be determined. 5. DEVELOPING A TDM PROGRAM A comprehensive TDM Program can greatly assist in reducing automobile use, and influencing travel patterns. While existing urban infrastructure and prevailing public sentiment may limit the number of practical TDM measures at this time, it is important to recognize that TDM will assist in managing traffic and reducing infrastructure requirements as the Region grows. With expected increases in population within Durham, automobile use and traffic congestion will worsen, unless measures are introduced to reduce the demand for the private auto. These measures can be incentives (e.g. “bulk purchase” discounted transit fares) or disincentive measures (e.g. parking charges). Based on the results of the surveys undertaken during the 2005 Commuter Attitudes Study, the Region’s TMP, Transit Service Plan and the Regional Cycling Plan studies, the following sections outline potential TDM measures that are being examined for implementation in Durham. 5.1 Transit Enhancements As of January 1, 2006, the Region assumed sole responsibility for all municipal transit services in Durham. Durham Region Transit is working closely with the Region’s interregional carrier, GO Transit, to ensure the most effective and efficient delivery of transit services to Durham residents and businesses. The amalgamation of transit across the Region has helped facilitate inter-municipal transit trips and has provided more opportunities for citizens to take transit. DRT has undertaken a Transit Service Strategy that focuses on:  Providing an integrated network;  Developing higher order improvements along key transit corridors;  Providing access for all areas and sectors of the community;  Developing a system that is affordable and efficient;  Facilitating the development of a liveable and environmentally sustainable community; and,  Satisfying public demand and client needs. Measures to improve the use of transit that are being examined through the Durham TDM program include: the development of “bulk purchase” transit pass programs; shuttle services 10
  11. 11. targeted at specific destinations; provision of park and ride/commuter lot facilities; and integration of transit and cycling modes of transportation. 5.1.1 Employer Sponsored Transit Passes Providing transit passes for purchase in bulk to employers allows companies to encourage transit use amongst its workforce. The employer may choose to sell passes to its employees at discounted prices. Increased transit use as a result of more affordable passes would result in reduced parking requirements for the employer. Both the Toronto Transit Commission and the Hamilton Street Railway Company have participated in such programs, and discounted passes are also common in many US jurisdictions (e.g. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, Cincinnati). Employers who have participated in such programs have:  Enhanced their benefits package: Progressive companies are focusing on benefits in addition to medical and life insurance. These companies are broadening their plans to include commuter transportation. With increasing congestion, transportation is fast becoming a company benefit that attracts potential employees.  Cut the cost of getting to work: Driving to and from the office costs employees thousands of dollars annually, and does not include the stress of driving. When a company participates in a discounted transit pass program, its employees spend less on transportation and the company benefits from a more productive workforce.  Shown environmental commitment: Supporting transit shows a company’s commitment to play a role in improving air quality. A sponsored transit pass program has already been implemented in the Region. The Durham Separate School Board participates and currently buys non-transferable discounted transit passes for its students. The Board offers these passes at no charge to their students, who live beyond an acceptable walk distance. In addition, a Universal transit pass (U-Pass) has been implemented for Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) students, as a mandatory component of tuition fees. More recently, Durham Region Transit has been participating in the development of the GTA Fare System Project. This system will implement a common transit fare collection across the GTA using a card with a computer chip. The system will have the ability to provide customer loyalty discounts to frequent users and groups of users (e.g. employees). 5.1.2 Customized Transit Services These services include a variety of public transportation measures that use buses, vans or taxis. They are employed to:  Carry passengers for short trips along busy corridors, including business districts, employment and education campuses, and parks or recreation areas;  Offset unusually high demands to a particular location; 11
  12. 12.  Provide flexible route transit service using small buses, vans or shared taxis. This may be more appropriate for off-peak service, or service in lower-density areas; or  Provide late night service after regular transit service hours. Shuttles may be free to employees, provided by an employer or require a full or subsidized fare. A transit agency, downtown business association, developer, campus administration, or employees usually implements shuttle services. Potential funding sources for such services may include private sector contributions and senior government funding opportunities. Two examples of shuttle services in Durham include the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Durham College/UOIT services. Prior to Durham Region Transit, OPG worked with Ajax- Pickering Transit to provide a charter service from the Pickering GO Station to the Pickering Nuclear Generation Station and various OPG facilities. Durham Region Transit now continues to provide the OPG charter service. Prior to the formation of Durham Region Transit, Durham College/UOIT partially funded a shuttle service from the Pickering GO Station to the North Oshawa campus in the absence of cross-regional transit service. The route was highly successful, prompting Durham Region Transit to adopt the route as part of the overall network in January 2006. DRT also supplements its fixed route service with evening shuttles from GO Train stations, dial- a-ride taxis to serve the Whitby industrial area, and dial-a-bus service in the Township of Scugog. 5.1.3 Commuter Parking Lots - Park & Ride Park & Ride consists of parking facilities at transit stations, bus stops and highway on ramps, particularly at the urban fringe, to facilitate transit use and carpooling. Some include bicycle parking. Parking is generally free or significantly less expensive than in urban centres. Park & Ride facilities can also be commuter lots located along major highways or roadways. Park & Ride facilities are usually implemented by transportation or transit agencies. In some cases, existing, underutilized parking (such as a mall parking lot) is designated for Park & Ride use. Patrols and lighting are sometimes provided to address security concerns that users may have about leaving their vehicles at such a location. Park & Ride facilities can potentially increase transit and rideshare travel. They have a major influence on the portion of downtown commute trips made by transit. Actual impacts depend on the quality of transit and rideshare services, the existence of incentives such as HOV Priority and geographic factors such as the distribution of jobs and employment. 5.1.4 Cycling - Transit Integration Cycling integrates well with public transit (e.g. bus and train service). Transit is most effective for moderate and long-distance trips on busy corridors, while cycling is effective for shorter- distance trips with multiple stops. Combining transit and cycling can provide a high level of mobility comparable to automobile travel. 12
  13. 13. A transit stop normally draws walkers within a 5-minute (400 metre) walking distance. At a modest riding speed, a cyclist can travel three or four times that distance in the same time, increasing the transit catchment area significantly. Bicycle access tends to be particularly important in suburban areas where densities are moderate and destinations are dispersed. The Region of Waterloo has integrated cycling with transit through provision of bike parking along specific routes and the placement of bike racks on all Grand River Transit buses. Each rack holds two bikes and is mounted on the bus. Cyclists can also carry their bicycles onto vehicles (often only during off-peak periods). This allows a bicycle to be used at both ends of the journey, if a cyclist suddenly experiences a mechanical failure, unexpected weather, or illness. Durham Region Transit currently permits riders to bring their bikes onto the bus during off-peak hours. 5.2 Ridesharing Ridesharing refers to carpooling and vanpooling. Ridesharing reduces costs per passenger-kilometre; however, it is generally only suitable for trips with predictable schedules such as commuting, since there is little flexibility. 5.2.1 Carpools A carpool is the simplest form of ridesharing, involving two or more people riding together to and from a destination (or Park & Ride lot), typically in an employee-owned vehicle. The driving can be dedicated to one person or shared. Commuting distances may vary from a few kilometres, to much longer. Carpooling is an effective means of reducing traffic congestion, pollution and commute-related stress. It can also lower personal maintenance, insurance, fuel and parking costs. Once carpools are set up, each carpool can agree on key topics such as cost sharing and schedules. With interested employees, carpools can also be registered to provide amenities such as parking permits and preferential parking. 5.2.2 Van Pools Vanpooling uses vans that are usually owned by an organization (such as a business, non-profit, or government agency) and made available specifically for commuting. The vehicles can be used during regular office hours as fleet vehicles. Vanpooling is particularly suitable for longer commutes (15 kilometres or more each way). Vanpooling also carries more passengers per vehicle than a carpool and does not require a professional driver. 5.2.3 Ride Matching As the name suggests, Ride Matching involves matching up riders who live near one another and work at the same or adjacent workplaces. They must also work generally the same hours. Matching can be done simply by sticking name-labelled or numbered pins in a map to indicate where people live and linking adjacent riders or by using more sophisticated computerized matching programs. 13
  14. 14. On November 24, 2005, the Smart Commute Association launched Carpool Zone, an Internet carpool service to help commuters in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton find people to share a ride with to work or school. Commuters are able to register with Carpool Zone on the Smart Commute Association web site by filling out a questionnaire about their commute. Information includes: time, origin and destination. Commuters can also add various preferences to help them find the right people to share their commute. Preferences include specifying second languages spoken, smoking, music, and gender. The system then searches the database to find the closest possible match by using precision mapping technology. The system also has built-in privacy measures to ensure that personal information is confidential until users confirm interest in forming their carpool. 5.2.4 Preferential Parking Preferential parking reserves “premium parking locations” for carpools and vanpools. Preferential parking is intended to make carpooler/vanpooler parking spaces highly valued among employees over single occupant vehicle (SOV) spaces. The benefits are the guarantee of a reserved parking space as the reward for switching to carpooling or vanpooling. This can be controlled by permit and could be available in both public and private lots. 5.2.5 Guaranteed Ride Home Program Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) programs provide an occasional subsidized ride to commuters who use alternative modes. For example, if a carpooler must return home in an emergency, or a carpooler must stay at work later than expected, a subsidized ride home would be provided. This addresses a common objection to the use of alternative modes. GRH programs may use taxis, company vehicles or rental cars. GRH trips may be free or they may require a modest co-payment. The cost of offering this service tends to be low because it is seldom used. Although it is sometimes called “Emergency Ride Home,” it is most effective if requirements are not restricted to “emergency” trips. For example, a commuter may need a ride to participate in an unplanned social event that is not an emergency, but can still affect their decision whether or not to drive. The Smart Commute Association has already initiated development of GRH materials for use by all Smart Commute partners. Other measures, which support ridesharing, may include flexible start/end times and alternative work arrangements and parking management. These measures are discussed later in this document. 5.3 Active Transportation – Cycling and Walking Active transportation refers to any means of travel that is human-powered. For commuting purposes, the most common forms of active transportation are walking, jogging, in-line skating and cycling. 14
  15. 15. In January 2005, the Region of Durham initiated a Regional Cycling Plan Study. This plan, expected to be completed in 2007, will examine the development of a coordinated regional cycling network that will serve both the urban and rural areas of Durham and will support and encourage leisure, tourism and commuting cycling. The plan will also propose supporting policies, guidelines and monitoring strategies. 15
  16. 16. 5.4 Alternative Work Arrangements Alternative work arrangements are permissive adjustments that employers can make to their employee work schedules, with a view to reducing peak hour travel demands and spreading out the demand over longer periods of time. 5.4.1 Flextime Flextime refers to allowing employees some flexibility in their daily work schedules. Core hours can be established for a day and employees can be free to work their prescribed time each day as long as they are at work during core hours. Flextime helps to reduce peak hour travel demand at major employment centres, thereby alleviating any on-site traffic congestion. 5.4.2 Staggered Work Hours Staggering the work hours reduces the number of employees arriving and leaving a worksite at one time. For example, in a 35 hour/week institution, rather than all employees working 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., some might work 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and others 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This has a similar effect on traffic as flextime, but gives employers more control over their employees’ schedules. 5.4.3 Compressed Work Week A compressed workweek means that employees work fewer but longer days, such as four 10- hour days each week (4/40) with one day off, or 9-hour days with one day off every two weeks (9/80). This reduces peak hour travel demand if the days off are scheduled throughout the week. In addition to reducing traffic on-site and on the road network, this arrangement also results in an additional benefit of reduced parking requirements. 5.4.4 Telecommuting and Teleconferencing Telecommuting is working from a remote location (often one’s home workstation) using computers, telephones, facsimile machines, and other remote capabilities, rather than commuting via automobile or other mode of transportation to and from an employer’s work site to perform equivalent work. Telecommuting, whether it is from a household or an establishment that is centrally located would reduce peak period travel, particularly to other areas of the GTA. Teleconferencing provides businesses with the ability to conduct meetings over the telephone with multiple participants, regardless of geographical location. It is a cost-effective means of increasing performance and saving time and can be useful for various purposes across all industries. Both the employee and employer benefit from telecommuting and teleconferencing. The employee eliminates their commuting time that benefits a number of aspects of their life. The employer benefits from telecommuting related to additional productivity received from its employees. Additional productivity has been estimated at 10-15% in historical studies10. The 16
  17. 17. organization also saves on office expenses and parking requirements/expenses. If 50% of an office work force telecommutes one day a week, overhead for workstations and associated facilities would be reduced by at least 10%. Telecommuting also improves employee retention, thereby reducing recruiting and training costs. 5.4.4 Satellite and Neighbourhood Work Centres To facilitate telecommuting and teleconferencing, Satellite or Neighbourhood Work Centres have emerged in suburban locations. Often a specific company that has relocated part of its operations at a distance from an original or main site owns these centres. In other instances, a private enterprise has established a centre that provides services for urban companies in rural regions providing more flexible work facilities. The operations in these offices can be integrated with the main company or provide a location for people to “plug in and work”. One example is the SuiteWorks Centre in Barrie. Located near Highway 400 on the southern edge of the city, this centre opened in the Spring of 2005. It is a 23,000 square feet facility encompassing 120 workspaces, seven meeting rooms, private phone rooms, lunchroom, free parking and on-site daycare and nursery school services. 5.5 Land Use Planning Land use planning can play a key role in reducing the need and distance for travel, and encouraging and supporting transit, cycling and walking as viable alternatives to the automobile. It provides an opportunity to support and, to a significant extent, determine the success of other TDM measures. The creation of mixed use areas containing complementary land uses can contribute significantly to the overall reduction of trips and increased walking and cycling. Urban design is equally important in encouraging modes of travel other than the automobile. Reduced building setbacks, provision of sidewalks and pedestrian connections between buildings and to transit stops, integration of transit stations in the community, and provision of integrated pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities, influence the daily travel choices people make. The Durham Regional Official Plan contains a number of TDM-supportive policies aimed at increasing transit use and other alternative modes of transportation. 5.6 Parking Management Parking Management includes a variety of strategies that encourage more efficient use of existing parking facilities, improve the quality of service provided to parking facility users and improve parking facility design. It can help address a wide range of transportation problems and help achieve a variety of transportation, land use development, economic, and environmental objectives. The main objective is to limit the number of parking spaces available to encourage single occupant vehicle users to shift to alternative modes or increase vehicle occupancy. Parking management is considered to be an important TDM measure. Specific measures for parking management may include controlling the supply and availability of parking, and parking 17
  18. 18. pricing techniques. The cost of parking is the single greatest determinant as to whether people will drive, if they have an alternative. 5.7 Carsharing Carsharing is typically a private-sector operated automobile rental service geared to those who wish to bike, walk or take transit for the majority of their trips, but require a vehicle for trips that are longer or for trips taken in inclement weather. It is also ideal for occasional drivers and for those who want to avoid buying a second car. Members typically pay a monthly fee for access to cars parked across an urban area, plus an hourly rate and per-kilometre costs to cover insurance, maintenance and gas costs. The concept of carsharing has been successfully introduced in the City ot Toronto (Autoshare and DASHcar) and is developing in Waterloo Region (The People’s Car Cooperative). Often carsharing locations are combined with transit and park and ride lots to facilitate the transfer between transportation modes. For example, Autoshare is working towards providing a shared- vehicle within a 5 minute walk of anywhere in the City of Toronto. In the Durham context, an example of carsharing may include facilities at GO Train stations where vehicles can be rented for short durations, say, to attend meetings in the Region. 5.8 Marketing, Education and Promotion TDM marketing, education and promotion generally involves advertising and publicity to encourage alternative modes of transportation. To promote available options and specific programs, employers often use marketing. TDM education attempts to educate the public or specific groups on the impact of driving alone and thus promote changes in travel behaviour. Programs can also include positive incentives to reward TDM leaders and innovators. Effective public education and communications programs can change people’s travel preferences and behaviour, and thereby shift some drivers away from single-occupant vehicles, but often these programs are costly. The programs are also indirect in the sense that they aim to change perceptions rather than the actual transportation modes. Nonetheless, public recognition and acceptance of transportation’s impact on the environment and economy, the true costs of air pollution, and the benefits of cleaner, more energy efficient communities and driver practices is key to the effective implementation of TDM measures and policies. As part of a marketing and promotion program, a Transportation Information Centre could be set up as a “one-stop” information hub for members of the public, employers, institutions and community groups. Services vary, but may include:  Trip planning and advice, including reservations;  Transit information and reservations including finding and interpreting routes, schedules, fares and other necessary information;  Information and rider administration for subscription or shuttle bus services; 18
  19. 19.  Integrated information and services for available car-share services, carpool ride- matching, and bicycle rental locations;  TDM information clearinghouse; and  Marketing resources for sustainable transportation. Transportation Information Centres can interact with customers via the Internet, phone, and strategically located information terminals or in person. For example, prior to the regionalization of transit services in Durham, the Region operated the website This site showcased the various transit initiatives including the Student Transit Pass for Durham College/UOIT and the D-Pass for local fare integration with GO Transit. 6 WALKING THE TALK – Durham’s WTR Program The Region currently participates in a variety of initiatives which influence how individuals make their daily travel choices, including an employee wellness program, participation in air quality initiatives, and promotion of active transportation modes. To complement these initiatives, the Region has recently developed an Employee Work Trip Reduction (WTR) Program for its corporate headquarters (HQ). This is an essential step in actively promoting TDM across the Region. It is difficult to promote alternative modes to others, if you are not willing to lead by example. 6.1 Step 1 – Gauging the Market To gauge the level of support for alternative work trip reduction measures and to assist in the development of a WTR program, an employee survey was conducted in February 2006. This survey measured two key parameters: 1) the current commuting habits and behaviours of employees; and, 2) their willingness to change their commuting habits. About 600 completed surveys were received from Regional employees located at the corporate headquarters, representing an extremely positive 55 percent response rate. The survey results showed that approximately 87 % (948 persons) of respondents currently commuted to work by driving alone (Figure 3). This is strikingly high considering that 30 percent (327 persons) of employees live in Whitby, where the headquarters is located, and almost half (545 persons) of employees live within 20 kilometres. However, the survey results also indicated that a large number of employees are willing to consider alternative modes of commuting, such as: transit; carpooling; walking/cycling; and alternative work arrangements, if given the right incentives and support (Figure 4). 19
  20. 20. Figure 3 – Current Commuting Behaviour Drive Alone 87% Other Carpool 1% 6% Public Transit Motorcycle/Scooter 2% Kiss and Ride 0.2% 2% Walk Bicycle 2% 0.2% Figure 4 – Alternative Modes that Respondents Would Consider None 57% Kiss and Ride 12% Other 2% Carpool Walk 9% 11% Motorcycle/Scooter Public Transit 1% 3% Bicycle 2% Telework 3% The survey revealed a latent demand for commuting alternatives. As such, it was decided that the development of a WTR Program would provide opportunities to: reduce traffic congestion and parking requirements; increase employee productivity; improve the Region’s corporate image; improve regional air quality; and, increase the active and healthy lifestyles of employees. 6.1 Step 2 – Building the Case for a WTR Program Over 40,000 kilometres of commuting travel per day is generated by Regional Headquarters staff. This does not include citizens accessing Regional Headquarters to conduct business, or staff or citizens accessing the Provincial Courts. The 40,000 kilometres of commuter travel per 20
  21. 21. day equates to over 10 million kilometres per year. Of this, about 9 million kilometres is generated by staff driving alone to work. Based on typical emission levels generated from automobile travel, this translates to approximately 2 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions annually.10 Even a marginal reduction can result in significant benefits to the Region, as an employer, and as a community. TDM is one of the most cost-effective solutions to reduce single occupant vehicle trips. The implementation of a WTR Program that targets specific TDM strategies will bring multiple benefits: • Access and mobility challenges in the immediate area of the Regional HQ can be enhanced, by spreading the start and end times of the commute trips, as well as achieving a modal shift from single occupant vehicles to other modes of transportation,; • The less often employees travel to Regional Headquarters in single occupant vehicles, the fewer the number of parking spots required. This will extend the functional life of the parking facilities and “open up” more parking to visitors; • Productivity of employees can be improved by offering alternative work arrangements. Alternative work arrangements can also lower absenteeism and tardiness; • The overall image of the Regional Corporation within the community can be enhanced by providing these trip reduction strategies to its employees. Also, the Region’s ability to positively promote and encourage other individuals and organizations to adopt alternative modes of transportation is strengthened by implementing such programs ourselves; • Stress levels can be reduced by offering employees commuting options, as research shows that employees exposed to high levels of traffic congestion often arrive at work more stressed; and • More active and healthier lifestyles of Regional employees can be promoted by accommodating commuting modes such as walking and cycling. Often people are skeptical that TDM strategies are feasible, because their success requires significant behaviour changes. Although such changes may be challenging to implement, there are examples of these types of behavioural change successes, including recycling, smoking reductions and seat belt use. In each case, a combination of public education, policy changes and support services have had a dramatic impact on behaviour patterns, indicating that consumers can support and adapt to changes in their lifestyles, in response to individual and social challenges. 6.1 Step 3 – Developing and Implementing a WTR Program Based on the survey results, which outlined the market potential for various measures, and a review of best practices, a decision was made to focus on four alternative modes of commuting: transit, carpooling, active transportation and alternative work arrangements. With this in mind, the Region developed a WTR strategy focusing on measures related to the promotion of these four alternative modes of commuting. The majority of these measures are low-cost and can be 21
  22. 22. implemented early next year, subject to the Region’s annual business planning and budget approval process to coincide with a launch of the WTR Program. Alternative Modes WTR Measures Transit  Sale of Transit Passes at Front Counter  Improved Transit Routing and Scheduling  Employer-Sponsored Passes Carpooling  Emergency Ride Home  Ridematching  Preferential Parking Walking/Cycling  Showers and Changeroom Facilities  Bike Parking  Site Improvements Alternative Work Arrangements  Flex Hours  Compressed Work Week  Teleworking Supporting Measures  Route Planning  Fleet Vehicles  Outreach and Awareness In order to assess the use of the WTR Program, employees wishing to participate will be encouraged to complete a registration form. The form will be provided online on the Region’s corporate intranet site (Insider). On an annual basis, a survey will be undertaken to monitor the Region’s progress in influencing employee travel behaviour. Typical monitoring can include, but is not limited to: • Number of registrants in WTR Program; • Use of route planning form on the Insider; • Number of transit passes sold through employer-sponsored pass program (if implemented by DRT); • Frequency of use of Emergency Ride Home Program; • Number of registrants for ridematching (Carpool Zone); • Occupancy counts of vehicles entering the staff parking areas; • Number of carpool hand-tags assigned; • Average number of carpooling spaces filled on a daily basis; • Average number of bikes using bike racks on a daily basis; • Usage of Whitby Recreation Centre’s showers/changeroom facilities for active transportation reasons (located within a short walking distance); • Participation in alternative work arrangements; and • Use of environmentally friendly fleet vehicle. 7 DELIVERING TDM IN DURHAM In September 2006, the Region initiated a study to develop a Region wide TDM Program and to determine a preferred TDM service delivery model. The study is being conducted in two phases. 22
  23. 23. During the first phase, the TDM market potential with local employers was assessed. This phase concluded in January 2007 and included:  An assessment of potential TDM measures based on analyses of current and future travel patterns in Durham;  Engaging business associations to assess their interest in facilitating or supporting the delivery of TDM measures amongst Durham employers; and  Engaging major employers and businesses to assess their interest in implementing TDM measures in their workplaces through the use of interviews, surveys or workshop(s) and to reveal a range of realistic TDM responses to address current and future challenges in Durham. The Region is now in the midst of Phase 2 of the study which will include: • An assessment and evaluation of potential TDM measures in terms of timing, cost, stakeholder support, implementation, potential liability, and ancillary considerations to identify the best options to implement in Durham; • The development of a TDM Program documenting how a comprehensive range of TDM measures, applicable to Durham and supported by the stakeholders, can be implemented; • The identification of an appropriate model for the delivery of TDM services within the Region, which may include the formation of a Durham TMA; • The identification of potential partners and supporting resource requirements; and • A business case analysis for the delivery of TDM services in Durham, outlining the necessary funding requirements. 8 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Traffic congestion in Durham is increasing and will continue to do so as the Region experiences accelerated growth over the next 25 years. Without a concerted effort to influence the travel behaviour of commuters, traffic congestion will continue to negatively impact the way in which we live and do business. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is one solution to this growing concern. TDM aims at providing mobility options to commuters and focuses on moving people more efficiently and effectively. The purpose of TDM is to: reduce the number of trips made by commuters; encourage travel by more sustainable modes; and divert trips outside peak periods. Measures range from promoting use of specific alternative modes of transportation such as transit, to broader TDM-supportive land use planning. Demand management measures are designed to motivate people to change their travel choices, through reductions in travel time, cost, and stress, rather than always choosing to drive alone. The key to success for TDM is the delivery of a menu of commuting options through a comprehensive TDM program. While no one TDM measure can resolve the transportation challenges Durham faces, the coordination of a series of TDM measures can assist the Region in maximizing the people moving capacity of its transportation system. 23
  24. 24. The potential TDM measures identified in this document sets the stage for the development of a TDM program for Durham, through further detailed analysis, and consultations with businesses and employers in the Region. It is through this further analysis that a TDM program for implementation in Durham will emerge. ENDNOTES 1 Region of Durham Development Charge Background Study, 2003 and Places to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Toronto Golden Horseshoe, 2006 2 Durham Cordon Count Program, 1989-2006 3 Transportation Tomorrow Survey, 2001 4 Toronto Board of Trade 5 Recent Durham Cordon Count Programs and Transportation Tomorrow Survey data 6 2005 Commuter Attitudes Survey, Smart Commute Association 7 Transport Canada, Moving on Sustainable Transportation, Environmental Issues 8 National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, State of the Debate on the Environment and Economy. The Road to Sustainable Transportation in Canada, 1997 9 American Telecommuting Association 10 Emissions calculated using & 24