Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development sets up online tool to promote staff carpooling
Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Monday, June 1, 2015
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (GDARD) have set up an online tool to encourage their staff to carpool. The online tool was customised by Findalift and helps GDARD employees to connect with others travelling similar routes to work. Rina Taviv, Deputy Director of Climate Change and Environmental Information Management at GDARD, explained the importance of GDARD officials setting an example for citizens, “It is our mandate to lead and coordinate implementation of climate change mitigation measures in the province. The Gauteng Climate Change Strategy highlights environmentally friendly transportation as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The carpool campaign was launched to assist staff to make lifestyle changes which align with our policies.”
How does it work?
GDARD employees simply have to register online using the organisation's password and enter their daily commuting route into the tool and the system’s interactive map will identify suitable travel partners from GDARD. The website also provides users with an indication of the value of carpooling in terms of the amount of fuel saved, parking, toll and service costs avoided and pollution reduced. In addition, reporting features of the online tool provide the project management team with information on the use of the system and the cumulative cost and pollution reduction benefits of carpooling facilitated by the tool. Reports provide details on the amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter avoided as a result of carpooling.
GDARD is the first government department in South Africa to implement a programme to promote carpooling amongst its staff. The programme was launched with a preliminary survey of 222 employees to investigate the mode of transportation used for their daily work commute. The results showed that 50% of employees travel with only private cars, which indicates an opportunity for more environmentally friendly modes of travel i.e. non-motorised transport, public transport and carpooling. On a positive note, 12% of employees responded already use carpooling. The survey also asked participants to suggest ways in which GDARD can incentivise carpooling. Ideas put forward included petrol vouchers, allowing people to work flexible hours, reduced e-tolls, Gautrain vouchers, Reya-Vaya vouchers, and free parking. To raise awareness, GDARD have put prizes up for grabs to encourage staff to share selfies of themselves walking, cycling, carpooling or using public transport to work.
The benefits of carpooling
According to Daniel Claassen, Managing Director of FindaLift, carpooling offers a number of personal benefits to employees in addition to the environmental benefits and reduced local traffic congestion. There are significant cost savings in terms of fuel, car maintenance and e-tolls. In addition, carpooling offers a greater sense of security and an opportunity to socialise and relax which leads to improved employee wellness.
Rina Taviv highlighted behavioural change as the greatest challenge to promoting carpooling. She notes that people are naturally resistant to change, however interest in carpooling has been growing slowly since the launch of the campaign. Rina Taviv is confident that there are plenty of benefits to be derived from carpooling, but acknowledges that it will take some time to convince people to make a lifestyle change. Claassen encourages GDARD employees and the South African public to make use of the FindaLift service, “Small changes are needed to encourage behavioural change. Many people start off carpooling once a week and then opt to carpool daily. Give it a try, see if it works for you.”
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