The majority of Manitobans reach for their car keys for everyday trips. In Winnipeg, the average mode-share for driving is almost 80%. Obviously, the consequences of this behaviour are quite bleak for our province and our future. Infrastructure for vehicles is expensive to build and maintain, our roads are more and more clogged with more drivers commuting from communities further and further away, and the quality of air around schools is poor due to the number of kids dropped off in vehicles, as opposed to walking, biking or taking the bus to school.

At the same time, because of the built environment, it’s not realistic to assume that drivers can easily switch to taking transit or walking and biking for everyday trips. Winnipeg Transit does the best they can with the underfunding they receive, and groups like Functional Transit Winnipeg are advocating for improvements, while the city of Winnipeg slowly works through a pedestrian and cycling strategy that won’t see safe, connected routes completed for at least 20 years. Outside of Winnipeg, our province is vast and transit options between towns is limited or non-existent. We certainly have our challenges as a province.

Side note: in Copenhagen, a city that has strategically invested in healthy transportation over the last 30 years, only 9% of people commute by driving. Picture that the next time you drive during rush hour. (And note, Copenhagen is also a winter city. Don’t let the white stuff get you down.)

Taking our given circumstances, carpooling is the best, most realistic option that Manitoba has to improve health, wellness, air quality and congestion right now. Even if commuters who regularly drive-alone the majority of the week choose to carpool just once or twice per week, we could see substantial improvements to all of the points above.

To give commuters a handy tool, we are proud to launch GoManitoba! Register with this new platform to connect with like-minded people, share your commute, save time, money and reduce congestion. You can download the app now to begin the search for commuting partners and to be entered to win prizes!

In today’s world of Uber, AirBnB and Tinder, we’re becoming more and more accustomed to the shared economy and connecting with people through apps. But of course, we must always be mindful of safety. Our friends (and Founding Partner of GoManitoba) at Red River College have put together a fantastic collection of hints, tips and safety notes to assist in users having a positive commuting experience, and they have kindly allowed us to share those details below:

Building trust with your carpool partner

  •         Get your carpool partner’s full name and contact information
  •         Exchange and check personal references
  •         Hold your initial meeting in a public place
  •         Exchange driver information including driver license #, license plate #, and insurance information

*Remember, it is important to listen to your inner voice. If something doesn’t quite feel right with you carpool match, you’re under no obligation to continue the arrangement. Carpooling is supposed to relieve stress, not add to it!

Locations and Times

  •         Confirm pickup and drop-off times and locations with each passenger
  •         Confirm the route you are taking and the drop-off stops along the way (if you have multiple passengers/ multiple locations)
  •         Confirm which days each person is carpooling and who is responsible for driving on what days. Try to establish a firm schedule to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion
  •         Discuss how to handle occasional lateness and receive confirmation from the group that the driver is going to wait a predetermined number of minutes before leaving
  •         Discuss what constitutes chronic lateness and how to handle it

In-Car Preference

  •         Discuss preference for behaviour in the car, keeping in mind that the driver has the final say. Topics include: cell phone use, fragrances and allergies, eating and drinking, smoking before and during the ride, music or news radio or silence, air or windows, making unscheduled stops
  •         Be open to changing up your personal habits to make the carpool more enjoyable for everyone

Communication, Roles, Backup Plans

  •         Exchange cell numbers and email addresses for easy communication. Consider starting a group text for your entire carpool
  •         Determine how much notice is needed in the event of a change of plans – remember to give your group a heads up about vacation plans and whether alternate arrangements are needed
  •         Discuss if carpool confirmation is needed the day before, or whether it’s assumed that everyone is participating
  •         Exchange emergency contact information

Sharing Commuting Costs

  •         Discuss how to share commuting costs. Things to consider include: gas, parking, and maintenance.
  •         Decide how and when the costs will be reconciled and stick to a payment schedule

GoManitoba provides a handy Commute Calculator to assist.

For Drivers

  •         Ensure you follow the rules of the road – no speeding, texting, etc.
  •         Keep the vehicle tidy and in good maintenance at all times

For Passengers

  •         Respect the vehicle at all times, ensure you’re dry, clean and wipe you feet if needed before entering
  •         For front seat passengers, ensure your seat placement is respectful to the passenger behind you

Creating and Keeping Successful Carpool Partnerships

  •         Consider a trial period before committing
  •         Be patient – it takes time to establish a new routine
  •         Discuss any concerns you have as they arise in a respectful and honest manner

In Manitoba, we seem to think that choosing a method of transportation that isn’t a personal vehicle will mean inconvenience. If you find yourself in this chain of thought, some things to consider are:

  • Safety: we’ve heard from successful carpools in the past whose members noted how much more comfortable they are commuting through the dark morning and evenings in winter with a partner in the car.
  • Time: if you have a long drive in the morning, consider productive things you can do when you aren’t stuck behind the wheel. Catching up on emails, reading material for upcoming meetings, and more. Or use the time to unwind and relax.
  • Health: Our driving culture is a major contributor to our declining health as a society.
  • Personal Connections: With GoManitoba, you’ll be matched with possible carpool partners from your neighbourhood and along your route, going to the same general area as you. You never know what you’ll learn meeting new people in your community!
  • Cost: You’re going to save money. Personal vehicles are expensive, from maintenance, insurance, parking, gas, it’s estimated that the average Canadian spends $6,000 a year to commute via car. Log your trips with GoManitoba to see the dollars you’re saving!

We look forward to GoManitoba connecting citizens from across our province with more sustainable, healthy modes of transportation! Be sure to share your stories with us.