Commuter challenge has students seeing green

SAITSA has partnered with a new app to encourage SAIT students and staff to commute sustainably by allowing them to track the environmental impact of their journey to school.

The Campus Commuter Challenge is a customized version of the nationwide Commuter Challenge started by the Sustainable Alberta Association (SAA).

Alanis Cyr, an office assistant at SAITSA, said that seeing the results of green commuting is a big incentive to participate.

“[It’s] something tangible, like being able to physically record what the changes are and how much of an impact [I had], even only over a short period of time. That was pretty cool to see.”

The SAA is a non-profit organization whose mission is, “to promote and facilitate sustainable mobility through education and engagement.”

SAA’s website,, states that the commuter challenge, “focuses on measurable impacts related to fewer car trips to work.”

When somebody registers for the challenge, the website shows users their own personal commuter statistics including their total kilometers travelled, calories burned, litres of fuel saved and kilograms of carbon dioxide avoided.

Cyr didn’t hear about the challenge until after she had purchased a SAIT parking pass for the month.

“It was kind of disappointing that I couldn’t participate,” said Cyr.

Starting in October, Cyr is giving up her parking pass so she can start taking transit.

She said that between traffic, parking and gas, it’s much cheaper and faster to take transit.

Jessica Powell, the Policy Development Coordinator at SAITSA, has been overseeing the challenge in her spare time because she said she is passionate about the project.

Powell said that she believes the Commuter Challenge is important because it provides an opportunity for people to really think about how they travel every day.

“If you do usually take a less sustainable method of transportation, it will make you think twice about that.

“It’s a good introduction to looking to change your commuting habits.”

Powell commutes to SAIT by walking, bus and C-Train every day.

Powell is from Binbrook, Ont. and she also spent time in Waterloo and Ottawa, none of which had a train system like Calgary’s.

She says the C-Train is “awesome” but the main issue she’s noticed with Calgary Transit is the bus routes.

Powell said she has heard complaints from students that the buses don’t go close enough to their houses, or that the routes are inefficient so it takes longer than it should to travel short distances.

She said that she thinks having lanes that are reserved for buses or carpooling would give Calgarians more of an incentive to actively practice greener commutes because traffic would move faster in those lanes.

This year, the Campus Commuter Challenge took place between Sept. 16 to 29. Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, the Alberta College of Art and Design and the University of Calgary also participated in the challenge.

Powell says that the nationwide commuter challenge is scheduled to take place in March, and that she is also trying to set up a SAIT-exclusive challenge in the future.

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