A greener approach to commuting

With Cape Town recently being crowned as South Africa’s traffic capital, commuters should re-evaluate their transportation solutions. This is not just for the sake of practicality, but also for environmental reasons.

Luckily the basic principles of minimising traffic are also steps towards a greener commute.

Optimise the trip

The easiest and most effective way to optimise driving time is to carpool. Starting or joining a driving club from your neighbourhood to your work area means fewer cars on the road and less CO2 emissions. Besides the environmental benefits, carpooling gives you the added benefit of alternating drivers. When it’s not your turn to drive, you can spend time in traffic reading, relaxing or answering emails on your mobile.

If none of your colleagues live in your area, try putting an add on directories like Gumtree. The chances are good that someone in your neighbourhood heads in the same direction as you.

Avoid peak traffic times

Even when employing environmentally conscious driving methods, getting stuck in traffic means your engine is running longer and emitting more CO2 than when the roads are quiet. If at all possible, arrange your work schedule to avoid peak time traffic.

More and more companies are employing a flexitime system whereby workers can adjust their hours according to their commute. If your company is not doing so already, speak to decision makers about the benefits.

Use public transport

Recent developments in the South African public transport sector has made it possible for thousands of workers to have a more convenient commute. In Cape Town, for example, the MyCity bus system is constantly growing, adding more and more outer lying regions to its routes.

Thanks to the Gautrain, transportation in Johannesburg has also drastically improved. This railroad system, originally launched for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, allows safe, efficient and fast commutes from the city’s outer regions into business centres. Professionals working in central Johannesburg, but who are concerned about its crime rate, can now realistically consider houses for sale in Midrand or Pretoria as homes without factoring in hours of stressful traffic.

All in all, the daily travels from home to work and back is a necessary evil. However, if every commuter just made a consistent effort to minimise their impact on traffic, the resulting effect on the environment would doubtlessly be positive.