New Research in Minas Gerais Provides Data to Improve Corporate Mobility
Over the past four months, WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities, in partnership with the state government of Minas Gerais, conducted research on commute patterns in the Administrative Center of Minas Gerais (ACMG). Through data analysis, the research project aims to improve corporate mobility and identify measures with the potential to improve the quality of life of workers and promote more sustainable transport patterns in the workplace. The ACMG features modern and high capacity buildings serving 17,000 employees. It hosts all Secretariats in the same place, but is located just 20 km away from downtown Belo Horizonte, causing congestion.
On December 14, 2015 Guillermo Petzhold, Transportation Engineer, presented the results of the survey during the “1st Participative Center” event, which convened ACMG workers and BHTrans, the transit agency of Belo Horizonte.
The challenge, according to Grasielle Oliveira Esposito—Manager of ACMG—is to develop an initiative in corporate mobility which both prioritizes the quality of life of workers and encourages better sustainable transport options: "2015 was a year of structuring—to find the basis for the next steps to do the right thing," she said.
Research Results Demonstrate the Need for Action
With 4,593 survey participants, the research showed that 58.56 percent of residents use public transport, while 40.76 percent commute by car. In terms of commuting times, the majority ranged from 31 to 90 minutes, with commutes home taking up to 20 percent more time. Unfortunately, commute times on public transport averaged higher than personal vehicles.
"Even using a more sustainable mode of transportation, the users of public transport spent 78 percent more time in traffic. It is necessary to change this situation," said Petzhold. Over the course of a year, those who traveled to work by car lost the equivalent of nine weeks of work due to congestion, considering a 40 hours work week; for those who commute via public transport, the average time lost was 16 weeks.
The impacts of commute patterns in Belo Horizonte go beyond wasted time. To mitigate CO2 emissions equivalent to a year’s worth of commuting would require the growth of 2,444 hectares of forest. This means that each employee at the ACMG would have to plant 12 trees to offset their emissions.
Encouragingly, options to relieve congestion and improve sustainability are beginning to gain traction at the Administrative Center. For example, flexible journeys, which allow employees to arrive and leave during off-peak hours, is one solution already implemented by local management. Further, of the 3,928 parking spaces, 231 are reserved for the carpooling system—representing 6 percent of the total—and will increase in the near future. Those who do choose to carpool with coworkers are permitted to park in spaces closest to the buildings. "Looking at the areas where the workers live, 95 percent of those who said they would be willing to receive ride would have a real opportunity," said Petzhold.
Even so, public transport was identified as the primary alternative to driving alone or motorcycling to work, followed by carpooling, and finally, bicycling.
The 1st Participatory Center meeting was held in December to grant workers a stage to voice their opinions and experiences commuting for work. Employees reported problems in accessibility and poor integration between various modes of public transport.
Within public transport, the workers noted that bus lines times to the ACMG were inconsistent. According to the employees, the bus lines’ hourly chart is poorly supervised, and requires better management. Workers also took issue with the structure of bus stops, and the difficulties of cycling.
At the event, the president of BHTrans, Ramon Victor Cesar, the Director of Public Transport, Daniel Marx, and Grasielle Esposito answered questions and pledged to seek integrated solutions that improve corporate mobility in the workplace:
"It is impossible to implement a project without having a consistent plan. Our commitment to WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities goes beyond a consultancy; we need to show results by the proposed recommendations to improve the worker's life. We can’t do it alone, so it is essential to have the participation of the workers, the government and BHTrans. The government of Minas Gerais and the city of Belo Horizonte are on the right path, which is to work together for the employee and to humanize the Administrative City," emphasized Grasielle.
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