The Transit Pilot: Commute the Smart Way

Copyright: Queen's Printer for Ontario

Photo source: Ontario Growth Secretariat, Ministry of Municipal Affairs

We all want a hassle-free commute around the city. We also want a better environment with less traffic noise and cleaner air to breathe. And we can have this if we commute the smart way.

Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill (SCMRH) partners with local businesses and the wider York Region community to help them meet their sustainability goals. We create and implement customized sustainable commute programs to best suit your needs.

One such program initiated in the past is the Transit Pilot held in 2017.


SCMRH hosted a five-month Transit Pilot at six SCMRH workplaces. The objective was to increase transit ridership along the Highway 7 bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor while promoting the use of PRESTO. Pilot participants were provided with an initial $15 PRESTO card incentive to encourage taking transit from home to work.

At the beginning of each month, SCMRH and York Region Transit (YRT) staff would return on-site to reload an additional $15 for each participant, converse about their transit experience and address any issues that may arise.

Steps We Take

  1. Initial Survey: A survey is conducted to gauge interest from employees and collect information about their current commute habits.
  2. Finalize Eligible Employees: A group of employees are selected to participate in the transit pilot based on the survey results.
  3. Information Session: Employees are informed about the program’s details and are provided with details on recommended transit routes from their homes to work by YRT staff. They are invited to create a profile on the App where they can log their transit trips and track their sustainable impact. All participants are given a $15 preloaded PRESTO card during this session.
  4. Transit Pilot Period: Pilot participants are required to take public transit and log the trips on the App in order to receive an additional $15 reload on their PRESTO cards for the following month. Regular emails are sent on a monthly basis to remind participants of the dates for PRESTO card reloads and provide instructions on how to log transit trips on the App.
  5. Feedback survey: Following the completion of the pilot, employees are asked to provide their feedback on transit, PRESTO and the App.
  6. Follow-up survey: One month after the pilot has ended, a final follow-up survey is shared to gauge how many employees continue to use transit.


The Transit Pilot has been successful in encouraging employees to make the shift from single-occupant vehicles to public transit. This helps employers meet their sustainability goals while reducing traffic in our cities.

Here are some of the results from our 2017 Transit Pilot:

  • 40 participants took part in the pilot from six SCMRH workplaces.
  • Over the course of the five-month project, there were a total of 679 transit trips logged on the App.
  • 60% of participants reloaded PRESTO funds and took additional transit trips on their own during the pilot period.
  • 40% of participants continued to take transit occasionally after the pilot ended and reloaded their PRESTO cards with funds ranging from $10 to $200.
  • 68% of participants were interested in a second round of Transit Pilot.

Are you ready to be a Smart Commuter?

Visit our website to learn more about the services we offer. Contact us at to learn more about how the Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill program can help your businesses achieve your sustainability goals. Speak to our staff to set up a customized sustainable transportation work plan to fit your needs.