Athletes aren’t the only ones who have been training for the Games

Businesses all across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area have been preparing their workplaces for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, to ensure business continuity and help staff prepare for the busier road networks.

Kevin Phillips cycling to work

“We started planning several months in advance” says Kevin Phillips, Manager of Municipal Transportation at the Richmond Hill office of AECOM, a professional and technical services firm. Kevin has been a dedicated champion of smart commuting for more than four years.

“The key is to stay informed. I don’t want to get stuck in traffic, whether it’s commuting to work or going to a meeting, or even if it’s on my own time going into the city”.

Kevin is the company’s Smart Commute Ambassador and the Vice Chair of the Employer Advocacy Committee for Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill.  Together with another Ambassador, Sarah Hanson, they encourage staff to try different travel options by ramping up email communications and promoting online resources, such as the Smart Commute online tool and Ontario.ca/Games2015.

By organizing lunch and learns, and generating discussions in meetings and one-on-one with colleagues, the ambassadors supplied employees with an overview of the key aspects of the Games Route Network, such as the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle lanes) 3+ and 2+ occupancy requirements, and presented alternatives to reduce, re-mode, reroute, and re-time commutes and other work related travel.

What could these alternative commuting options look like? It might mean planning summer vacations to strategically coincide with the busiest Games periods. Other options  include minimizing the number of non-essential meetings by coordinating with clients; carpooling, using transit or trying active transportation; altering routes to avoid congested areas; shifting work hours to coincide with off-peak commuting times; and taking advantage of the company’s compressed work week 9/80 program.

“The Games aren’t just two weeks,” says Kevin “they’re almost two months. Businesses should get prepared for this because it affects their staff, their commute to the office, travel to meetings and sites, as well as the delivery of any goods that arrive to their office”.  Words of advice for the businesses that don’t have a travel plan? “Check out the travel information on the Ontario.ca/Games2015 website. Communicate to your workforce as early as possible, and contact your local Smart Commute office, because they are always willing to help”.

Although the Pan Am Games have ended, and the Parapan Am Games are taking place August 7 to 15, there really is no need to stop the travel planning. Kevin explains: “The carpooling and active transportation that staff will be trying over the summer and during the Games will have a lasting effect beyond the Games that will improve our overall road and highway network, assist with environmental sustainably goals and save staff travel dollars”.

As for keeping up the momentum at the workplace, post-Games? “I plan on continuing with lunch and learns, and doing follow-up communications with the office staff to remind people about how easy it is, now that they’ve carpooled or taken the bus… to really keep up the trend”.

We’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines, AECOM!