New commuting tool helps connect Manitobans looking to reduce carbon by ride-sharing and more.
If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and connect with new friends in your community, the GoManitoba commuting tool might be for you.
The GoManitoba platform is a phone app and website created by the Green Action Centre; a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg that promotes green living through environmental education and practical solutions. GoManitoba aims to resolve problems created or worsened, by our daily, weekly, and monthly commutes. It also provides solutions aimed at addressing Manitoba’s overwhelming reliance on cars for transportation.
“For about 30 years, getting around solo in a vehicle has just been something that we do without even really considering our options,” says Mel Marginet, Green Action Centre’s Workplace Commuter Options Program Coordinator. “Even within the City of Winnipeg, where there are other opportunities to bus and bike, it has not been a priority. The City just hasn’t made it a priority and we haven’t invested in good opportunities for people to have another viable choice. We want to encourage people, and meet them where they’re at.”
Users can download the GoManitoba app through the App Store or access the GoManitoba tool through a web browser on any computer with an internet connection. Users sign up and join the network of thousands of ‘ridesharers,’ with the hopes of coordinating all types of travel; from carpooling and ride-sharing, to finding a friend to accompany you on the bus, a person to go on walks with, or a group to cycle with. A recent grant from The Foundation supports GoManitoba’s annual technology platform fee, allowing Green Action Centre to provide free access for all Winnipeggers who want to use the tool.
Another component of the tool encourages mentors with high levels of experience cycling or navigating the transit system to self-identify and then match up with users who may be uncomfortable with the logistics of cycling trails or the confusion of transit schedules.
GoManitoba also features a data tracking component that shows how much money is being saved in one’s commute. With this personalized data, users may also be notified of calories being burned in the process of transportation. Further, this feature provides an overview of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, based on the chosen mode of transportation.
Some larger organizations are taking advantage of the GoManitoba commuting tool, offering employees access to their own custom subsite, which may be used to coordinate transportation with co-workers; in turn, this can improve infrastructure or company culture by tracking how employees are commuting each day. Partners include Red River College, The Forks, RBC Convention Centre, and University of Manitoba.
“We learned there was a high interest in carpooling, whether through surveys we did, or while going to give presentations at various workplaces,” Marginet says. “But it was really difficult to find a good carpool partner, because you have to [travel] from the same area, along the same route, and arrive in the same area at the same time.”
“Because it was tricky for workplaces who have been trying to organize with their employee base, it was a brilliant match, essentially that were working on [GoManitoba]; we figured out that we all had the different components to meet their needs.”
The opportunity to create and share options for healthy, sustainable transport to work, school, and social gatherings is what drove the initial the creation and maintenance of GoManitoba. As more people sign up and use GoManitoba, our province will be more sustainable.
There are nearly 2,000 registered GoManitoba users to date. The Green Action Centre, through GoManitoba and their partner workplaces, are offering prizes and rewards for the first 5,000 to register and confirm.
Signing up and using the GoManitoba commuting tool is a win/win for the people, the province, and the planet, Marginet says.
“It’s not something that you have to dramatically change your life around,” Marginet says. “Try it just for a short time, maybe set up a new carpool. If it doesn’t work for you after that time, you can walk away. No problem. We’re just really encouraging people to take a little step, which will lead to dramatic changes in their lives later.”
Learn more: gomanitoba.ca
Recipient: Green Action Centre
Grant: $18,000/year for three years, drawn from Strategic Initiatives Environment Fund
This story is featured in the Spring 2020 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.