In a press release last week, Sustainable Waterloo Region highlighted a few of the benefits that light rail transit would bring to our Region, including reducing need for costly parking spaces, recruiting top young talent, and reducing GHG emissions. We reported that, of those keeping track, commuting emissions constitute more than 24% of a Regional Carbon Initiatve member organization’s greenhouse gas inventory.

I wanted to see what these numbers look liked on a per employee basis, so I did a little number crunching. I took a sample of three very different organizations spread out across Waterloo Region (one in each of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge) and analyzed their employees’ commuting profiles. The results paint a pretty clear picture: Commuting in Waterloo Region has a remarkably high impact on the environment and, if these numbers are comparable to the rest of the Region, it doesn’t need to.

Here are the numbers that help tell the story.

Commuting Profiles: Lots of room for improvement

33.2 Total commuting distance (in kms) a day

77 Percentage of commuters who use single occupancy vehicles

11 Percentage of employees who take public transit to work

Commuting: Significant contributor to GHG emissions

1.98 Average number of tonnes of GHG emissions for a single occupancy vehicle commute

Willingness to Use Public Transit

25 Percentage of single occupancy vehicle commuters who work within 500m of a well-serviced bus route (iExpress) and occasionally take public transit

0 Percentage of single occupancy vehicle commuters who work more than 500m of a well-serviced bus route who occasionally take public transit

Current and Future Proximity to Well-Serviced Mass Transit

18 Percent of employees who currently work within 500meters of a well-serviced bus route

50 Percentage of employees who will work within 50meters of a well serviced public transportation (express bus routes or LRT) with LRT plan L9

In order for public transit to be a viable option for commuters, Waterloo Region can’t just rely on basic bus routes; we need frequent, easy to access, quick, and reliable routes. The current public transit system does not provide this type of service to the majority of the growing number of Regional Carbon Initiative members. For those who do have access to these types of routes, however, they take advantage of the service.

These numbers show implementing the LRT plan, along with its network of express bus routes, will get commuters to leave their cars and take the bus. This will have a significant and positive impact on lowering GHG emissions for businesses and for the Region.

What do you think?

To track your own commuting impact, check out “Cut My Commute”.