|Jump into the carpool|
by Irina Oroz
Stats show benefit of group commuting
Most people know that the emissions spewed into the environment by our vehicles are harmful, but what many don’t know is that there is an easy way to cut down on their contribution to global warming.
The University of Regina Parking Services is supporting a new movement to reduce air pollution by distributing pamphlets at their office to help students become more environmentally friendly with their cars. Parking Services is also supporting a new carpooling initiative, which has students pairing up for their ride to school.
The Government of Saskatchewan has recently come out with some disheartening statistics. Their pamphlet, “Climate Change Saskatchewan,” states that “in Saskatchewan, transportation represents 43 per cent of greenhouse emissions.”
The Honourable David Forbes, Saskatchewan’s Environment Minister, said that greenhouse gas emissions are “a huge issue here in Saskatchewan. We’re not a great province of bus-riders since we’re not in the habit. We definitely need to do that more often.” He believes that protecting our environment is “more of a shared responsibility to build a positive lifestyle. People look to the government to solve environmental issues , but if we can all shoulder the responsibility, we will be much better off.”
Luckily, there is a relatively easy way to reduce emissions. The website www.carpool.ca hosts a database of all of Canada’s registered carpoolers and is an easy way to start up a group commute.
“In order to encourage and facilitate carpooling, Commuter Connections offers a free on-line ride matching service to those wishing to explore carpooling options,” said the Commuter Connection’s website. And since 80 per cent of the cars on Canada’s roads are single occupancy vehicles, finding a willing match is not hard.
Interested carpoolers can visit the website and register by giving some information about their commuting habits. The database will then provide a match list based on the information, so a compatible commuting group living in the same area and going to the same place can be formed.
The benefits of the program are numerous. The Canadian Automobile Association reports that the average cost of operating a single vehicle is about $9,000 per year or almost $25 each day. By participating in a carpool, this amount is significantly reduced with the addition of each carpool member. Studies have also shown that people who commute together also have reduced levels of stress, a higher morale, and even lower blood pressure.
Student Matt Lockert is taking on some responsibility of his own. He’s part of a regular carpool group of four people. “The people that carpool with me live only two blocks away, and plus we’re friends so it would be a waste for four people to take separate cars. Two people that I drive with also split a parking pass, so it’s cheaper,” he said. He also believes that carpooling is an enriching social experience. “[Carpooling] gives you an opportunity to get to know the people you are driving better than you did before”
The Environment Minister and his department are shouldering some of the responsibility, as well. Forbes drives a Prius, a hybrid car that is gas-friendly and has no greenhouse gas emissions, and he also tries to take the bus between Regina and Saskatoon as much as possible.
“Carpooling is fundamental to protecting the environment. One car off the road is a step forward. With a little planning, we can make it happen. It’s up to us to make the change.”