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Here’s a recipe for employee-retention and commuter satisfaction: take long-term investment strategies, combine with leadership, add a dash of consideration for fuel and transportation efficiency, and serve fresh to produce happy and committed employees. The result is a corporate vanpool program, and at Enbridge Gas Distribution in Toronto, that’s exactly what happened.

Enbridge Gas Distribution is one of the fastest growing natural gas distribution companies in North America, and is concerned with both the wellness of its employees and the environmental impact of its operations. Knowing that workers in the Greater Toronto Area face the longest average daily commutes in Canada, Enbridge is working to minimize the stress and financial costs of commuting. As a result, the company is retaining valued employees, freeing parking spaces for other uses and reducing local air pollution.

A member of Smart Commute-North Toronto, Vaughan (NTV), Enbridge recognized it could help a group of its employees make the 180 km round-trip commute from Barrie to Enbridge’s Consumers Road location in north-eastern Toronto by supporting a corporate vanpool program. In making this investment, Enbridge helped bring its employees’ commuting more into sync with its business and environmental objectives.

For Enbridge, using a natural gas-powered vehicle was an obvious choice, and because it has its own fleet of vehicles, maintenance can be carried out on-site. The costs of the vehicle lease, maintenance, fuel, and administration are divided among the driver and 8 passengers and paid on a monthly basis. Driver training is paid for by Enbridge’s human resources department to ensure maximum safety and enable driving to be shared among many members of the vanpool. Enbridge backs-up its vanpool program with a Guaranteed Ride Home – vanpool members who experience a family emergency or must work unexpected overtime have access to a free taxi chit or a fleet vehicle to ensure they can still get home on a day that they vanpool.

First launched in fall of 2005, the Barrie vanpool was such a success that a second vanpool was launched in late 2006 that runs the approximately 75km round-trip from Whitby, Ajax and Pickering, east of Toronto, to the Consumers Road headquarters. Each van carries up to 9 people, each of whom have signed a Rider Agreement with Enbridge that covers waiver of liability, expectations of service, and recovery of costs.

The solution is practical, relating to both Enbridge’s desire to retain a productive workforce and the company’s environmental commitments. In total, 18 conventionally-fuelled, single-occupant vehicles have been removed from inter-regional highways and replaced by only 2 natural gas vans. Sixteen parking spaces have been saved, helping Enbridge avoid just over $19,000 per year in the cost of leasing parking space for employees. The vehicles provide Enbridge with a promotional opportunity on the road, as the vehicles display Enbridge’s logo and indicate they are natural gas-fuelled vehicles. They are also beginning to generate external advertising revenue that will help off-set the costs to riders.

For a company that prides itself on long-term investment and leadership, the Enbridge vanpools are a transportation solution that is purely efficient.

Benefits to Employees:

  • Stress reduction
  • Easier commute
  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Decreased commuting costs

Benefits to the Environment:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Decreased pollutants that cause smog
  • Fewer cars on the road

Benefits to Enbridge:

  • Improved productivity
  • Employee retention and decreased recruitment costs
  • Mobile advertising
  • Better use of parking spaces