Sustainable America Blog

Connected Commuting

"Railyard for NYC #7 Subway Line" by joiseshoaa

A study out this month from the New Cities Foundation shows that people who use apps to plan and manage their commute have lower stress levels and a more enjoyable overall experience.

The study focused on two of the most popular commuting apps:

  • Waze – a free GPS navigation tool that helps you avoid traffic by providing real time route information based on input from other drivers. You can also see when other friends from Facebook are driving to the same destination and navigate to the cheapest gas station en route in order to save money! Waze turns off the phone keyboard when the car is moving, but a new hands-free feature works with voice activation to let users safely enter real time data.

  • Roadify – this app allows you to connect to official transit schedules and receive alerts and updates from other commuters. Expanding quickly nationwide, Roadify is currently available in New York, New Jersey, Austin, Florida, Southern California, San Francisco/Bay Area and around the Pacific Northwest. Roadify was built for people who are tired of running after the bus, not knowing about transit delays or frustrated trying to find a parking spot.

The New Cities Foundation’s Connected Commuting Task Force is “charged with helping cities all over the world better understand how real-time social networking among commuters can enhance the overall commuting experience and improve traffic management.”

The unprecedented study was conducted in San Jose, CA in partnership with Ericsson, the City of San Jose’s Department of Transportation and the University of California’s Mobile Millennium team from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). Data was collected from over 15,000 participants and several focus groups.

Patrik Cerwall, Head of Strategic Marketing and Intelligence, Business Unit Networks at Ericsson explained, “In the networked society, where everything that benefits from a connection will have one, these types of information sharing will help cities reduce commute times and commuters’ energy consumption which benefits the environment, the cities and the citizens over the long term.”

The study found that people who engaged social networks while commuting experienced less stress and a greater sense of control over their commute. There was also a sense of satisfaction about the ability to help others. Perhaps we are altruistic beings after all.

The ability to streamline commuting and make using public transport more enjoyable will help to lessen our use of oil in America. We’ve seen other great initiatives like the Bike Superhighways of Denmark and New York Cities Communal Bike program that are also helping to lessen oil use by commuters. Sustainable America applauds innovative apps like Waze and Roadify that are helping to make America more resilient for the future.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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