Carpooling for Gold

When their Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) office moved north of the city to Vaughan in February, Dana Fountain and his co-workers had no choice but to re-evaluate their commutes.

Dana and three other carpoolers

Dana Fountain (far right) and three out of four of his carpool buddies

Traveling from Toronto to Vaughan is far from a commuter’s paradise, as it requires the purchase of a more expensive and less convenient weekly pass to utilize both the TTC and VIVA transit systems. This left Dana and many others at TRCA scrambling for a more viable solution.

To the rescue came staff at Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan who organized an office-wide social event that aimed to generate the formation of carpools. Dana was able to easily connect with a few colleagues whose routes and schedules linked up with his. From there, the carpool was born – five co-workers brought together by their determination to have a satisfying commute.

With Dana in the driver’s seat, the carpool commences at Lawrence West TTC station every morning at 7:30 a.m. where he arrives to pick up his passengers. Three people ride the subway to the meeting spot while one is close enough to walk. Regardless of their individual travel mode, the group must work together to execute a seamless carpool experience. This includes not only sharing the cost of gas but utilizing a Google doc to track inbound and outbound passengers as well, holding everyone to a high standard of reliability and punctuality.

Although some effort must be invested to make the carpool a success, Dana and his carpool buddies feel it is more than worthwhile, because it is a communal experience that has brought them all together as friends. During their journey, which spans anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour, they are able to catch up, exchange a few laughs and even take a snooze if one is feeling drowsy; the carpoolers are flexible with how they spend their trip. No matter how their time is spent, the five of them share, as Dana puts it: “a common appreciation that riding with others is always more enjoyable than driving alone.”

With the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games taking place over five weeks this summer, riding with others will be a key strategy to reduce traffic congestion. Dana is glad they have had plenty of time to perfect their commute before the Games begin, logging a total of 96 trips thus far on the Smart Commute tool. With all of this practice, navigating the Games will be a breeze for the carpoolers, and although they have yet to use the 3+ HOV lanes on their route, Dana states that he is “considering re-timing and re-routing their commute during the Games,” showing that he is a true Smart Commuter at heart. We are proud to have Dana and his carpool team as part of the Smart Commute family and hope that others will be inspired by their fun, convenient and cost effective method of travel – what more could you ask for in a commute?