Outsourcing | EDITORIAL: Drive-through science: in search of efficiency

Dec 01, 2008 (The Decatur Daily – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — Running a drive-through at a fast-food restaurant is a science — employing computers to speed up service, fill orders accurately, and track sales patterns.

McDonald’s is doing early tests of call centers to take drive-through orders, according to chicago

tribune.com. When you converse with an order taker from your driver’s seat, that person may be miles away, servicing not only your location but also many others.

It’s all part of a constant push to increase efficiency, with drive-throughs handling a bigger portion of fast-food sales each year.

But here’s some science we’d like to know about drive-throughs: How much fuel do vehicles waste each year idling in drive-through lines, and how much healthier would customers be if they’d get out of their cars and burn a few calories while walking inside?

Denialism | Restaurant industry commends St. John’s City Council on drive-through decision

Restaurant industry commends St. John’s City Council on drive-through decision

    ST. JOHN'S, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices
Association (CRFA) commends City Council in St. John's, Newfoundland for
taking a co-operative, consultative approach on solving traffic problems and
rescinding its ban on drive throughs.
    City Council lifted the two-week-old moratorium on drive-through outlets
on Monday.
    "Restaurant owners that operate drive throughs are very sensitive to the
needs of the community when it comes to traffic congestion, and want to work
with municipalities to help solve any issues," says Luc Erjavec, CRFA Vice
President for Atlantic Canada. "We are delighted that St. John's will work
with us to solve the problems instead of banning drive throughs."
    Business owners are typically required to do rigorous site planning and
traffic pattern studies before requesting permission to build a drive through.
Older sites, however, often need updating to handle traffic congestion and
customer demand.
    "Occasionally an outlet is the victim of its own success," Erjavec says.
"As more customers come to the outlet, some site adjustments may be needed to
meet the increased demand."
    Tim Hortons Senior Vice President/Atlantic Region John Montgomery says
his company is always willing to work cooperatively with any community that is
facing a traffic issue.
    "We don't want customers waiting in the drive-through line a minute
longer than necessary or lineups spilling out on to the street impeding
traffic," Montgomery says. "There are many options available to speed up
customer service and reduce traffic congestion, such as restructuring parking
lots or re-routing drive-through lanes."
    Montgomery says drive throughs provide an important service to the
community, particularly for those who may face challenges going into the
restaurant such as people who are mobility impaired, parents with young
children, the elderly or people who are in unfamiliar areas late at night or
in bad weather.
 
For further information: Luc Erjavec, CRFA Vice President, Atlantic
Canada, (902) 209-0804 or lerjavec@crfa.ca; Jeni Armstrong, CRFA
Communications Specialist, (416) 649-4254 or jarmstrong@crfa.ca

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2009/20/c9065.html

It’s still not okay to idle | Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

It’s still not okay to idle

By Carl Duivenvoorden

Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is our federal government’s official body for helping Canadians save energy and money. Its website, http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca, has a wealth of information about everything from buying better home appliances to designing better commercial buildings.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you may have noticed that longstanding guidelines for idling reduction were modified recently. But there’s something just a bit suspicious about the changes.

Old rules and new rules

For years, the OEE’s idling reduction programs have been based on the ten second rule. Its message is simple: it’s better to turn a car or light truck engine off than to let it idle for more than 10 seconds.

It’s a general guideline, so as with any such rule there are exceptions. For example, it’s not recommended that engines be shut off at traffic stoplights – they don’t always start back up when you want them to, and that can create a traffic mess. As well, it doesn’t always make sense in cold winter conditions. But overall, the ten second rule has been a great guideline for Canadians, helping us save money, fuel and the environment.

But back in February, the ten second rule suddenly disappeared from OEE’s website. In its place was a message indicating that an update was coming soon.

Six months later, the long-awaited update has finally arrived, and now it seems that it’s okay to idle longer. Has the science behind the recommendation changed – or is something else at work? A recent CBC news story suggests there’s a bit more behind our federal government’s change of heart.

Real science or science of convenience?

You see, excessive idling is starting to become socially frowned upon. It’s about time, of course – Canadians waste literally millions of liters of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. If we are truly ready to believe that the environment is worth taking care of, minimizing our idling is one of the easiest things we can do.

Much of our preventable idling takes place in drive-throughs, so fast food restaurants and coffee shops are becoming concerned that a backlash against idling might put a damper on a part of their business that clearly makes mountains of cash. If that CBC story is correct, they have been very busy behind the scenes, working to sanitize the image of their drive-throughs. That sanitization campaign has included sponsoring a study that concludes that going through the coffee shop drive-through causes no more pollution than parking. It has included publicizing those results using questionable comparisons, such as comparing chain saws (whose 2-stroke engines pollute much more by design) to vehicles in drive-throughs. And it has included pulling political strings to help the study’s conclusions become part of the government’s new recommendations.

Could the story be true? Well, here are a few indisputable facts. RWDI Air, an Ontario engineering firm, recently conducted a study on behalf of Tim Horton’s that seems to vindicate drive-throughs. The study is being widely used to defend them, including by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), whose membership includes most drive-through operators in Canada.

Then last February, the CRFA met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who oversees the OEE – and the ten second rule disappeared from OEE’s website within 24 hours.

I hope the CBC story is wrong, of course, and that this is all just coincidence. Just like any other Canadian, I want to believe that my government bases its recommendations to Canadians on sound science exclusively. Just imagine if Health Canada took its directives from the pharmaceutical industry. But I have to admit I’m concerned that in this case real science may have been trumped by other interests.

In the meantime, since the ten second rule remains valid in other countries, I think it’s too early to give up on it here.If you believe our environment is worth preserving, it’s still a good idea to minimize idling and avoid drive-throughs.

Carl Duivenvoorden (www.changeyourcorner.com) is a speaker, writer and green consultant living in Upper Kingsclear. His column runs every other Monday.

Moratorium | Traffic at Tim Hortons prompts drive-thru crackdown

Traffic at Tim Hortons prompts drive-thru crackdown

Posted By TARA BRAUTIGAM, THE CANADIAN PRESS

The ubiquitous Tim Hortons drive-thru, a daily pit stop for many Canadians on their way to work, has brewed a controversy in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city.

Municipal politicians in St. John’s have passed a motion that prohibits the establishment of new drive-thru operations unless businesses can prove to the city’s traffic department that vehicles won’t spill out onto public streets.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said while there wasn’t much public pressure calling for the legislation, it came about because of safety concerns arising from traffic lining up along drive-thrus and spilling out onto roads.

“We have had incidents where fender benders have resulted,” O’Keefe said in an interview Tuesday.

“Inevitably … something tragic is going to happen if it’s allowed to continue.”

O’Keefe said the resolution passed Monday doesn’t target any specific business but was triggered by the growing popularity of Tim Hortons drivethrus in the city.

“I guess in many ways they are the victim of their own popularity and their own success,” he said, adding that possible solutions could include more drive-thru lanes at each location and separate express lanes at busy times of the day where only coffee is sold.

A spokeswoman for Tim Hortons said the company has met with city officials to address traffic concerns and hires extra staff during peak periods.

Rachel Douglas, the company’s public affairs director, also said Tim Hortons is renovating at least one outlet in the city to improve traffic flow.

“Tim Hortons is continuously working on making our sites better to serve our customers faster,” Douglas said in a statement.

The motion, which took effect immediately, sparked a flurry of reaction from private enterprise and the public.

http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1376609

Board of Trade and Corner Brook Mayor Against Drive-Thru Moratorium

January 7, 2009

The President of the St. John’s Board of Trade says a moratorium on fast-food drive thrus isn’t necessary. Council imposed the moratorium after concerns of traffic jams and safety risks. The motion requires businesses to prove that traffic won’t spill onto public roads before they’re allowed to set up a drive-thru. President Donna Stone says public safety is top priority, but she says a drive thru component is very important to some businesses. She’s hoping both sides will come together to work out an agreement.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender says a moratorium on fast food drive-thrus is not something his council is considering. (The City of St. John’s has issued such a moratorium amid concerns over traffic jams, especially during the morning rush hour.) Mayor Pender says the issue has never come up at council even though he has noticed some congestion, especially on O’Connell Drive. Mayor Pender says the problem is with the drivers and not the business owners and it’s never a good move to deter businesses from opening up shop. Pender says issues with traffic congestion should be left to the police since it’s their responsibility to ensure safe driving. As well, he says motorists know the rules of the road and that it is illegal to block traffic.

http://www.vocm.com/news-info.asp?id=33493

Tim Hortons Continues to Lead in Denialism & Greenwash Tactics in Canada

Group raises doubts over drive-thru study

December 15, 2008


RECORD STAFF
KITCHENER

Tim Hortons stands by its study of pollution from idling vehicles in drive-thrus, despite a withering critique by the city’s environment committee.

A meeting of the city’s environmental advisory committee on Thursday included a harsh analysis of the company’s study on vehicle emissions at drive-thrus.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. retained Guelph-based RWDI to study pollution from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines.

It concluded the emissions from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines were less than from cars that had been turned off for a few minutes and then restarted.

But McColl said only five locations out of 3,000 were studied. The study also compared vehicle emissions to “everyday sources” such as a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw.

McColl said such engines are rarely used, giving the comparison little relevance.

And a small sample size can have a high margin of error, McColl said.

“These are some of the shortcomings in the report. They are enough to foster skepticism in me,” McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. had the study done after learning that Kitchener had joined a growing list of cities that considered tighter restrictions or even outright bans on new drive-thrus.

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons Inc., said the RWDI study is absolutely a scientific study.

“The breadth of analysis and range of sensitivities studied deal with any concerns raised about the number of stores in the study. Also, high-volume locations at rush hours were studied,” Javor said in an e-mail.

He defended the comparisons of emissions from chainsaws and snowblowers.

“Readers need to understand the order of magnitude and scale,” Javor said. He noted the study was peer reviewed and is currently under consideration for publication in a scientific journal.

“This all suggests that the study is worthy of broader consideration,” Javor said.

The environment committee voted to pass along the RWDI study to city councillors as information.

The committee also supports changing the way drive-thrus are designed so that people do not have to walk through a line of waiting vehicles.

Tim Hortons and other quick-service restaurants will be encouraged to better promote the option of going inside rather than idling in a drive-thru.

A representative of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association did not like that idea.

“Our windows at the front are how we draw customers in, so the recommendation is a little confusing,” Michelle Saunders, the association’s manager of government relations, said to the committee.

“I would simply say that drive-thrus are widely supported by the public,” Saunders said.

Alain Pinard, the interim director of planning, listened to the critique of the RWDI study, but noted that city staff do not have the expertise to wade into this field of scientific inquiry. That is best left to peer-reviewed journals, Pinard said.

City staff will watch for reactions after the study is published and exposed to more experts in the field.

Pinard called the RWDI study a good start, but said city staff need more information before public policy decisions are based on it.

“We are not experts,” Pinard said.

Some committee members were openly disappointed, having hoped for a crackdown on drive-thrus and a ban on new ones.

“We know cars pollute,” committee member Nirala Sonder said.

“We asked that there be no new drive-thrus and that has not been addressed,” Sonder said.

http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/458994

Opinion | Drive-thru study isn’t convincing | The Record | Kitchener

Drive-thru study isn’t convincing

December 16, 2008

Tim Hortons has become as much of an esteemed Canadian institution as any corporate entity, but the company’s environmental policy doesn’t have the same top-notch reputation.

The coffee shop chain is going to have to do better than present the type of report it released on drive-thrus if it expects both coffee drinkers and everyone else to take its commitment to the environment seriously.

Concerned about the possibility that Kitchener and other cities could set tough rules or ban drive-thrus at coffee shops, Tim Hortons commissioned a report that said if cars shift from using drive-thru lanes to parking lots they will create more, not less, pollution. The report was prepared by a consulting company, RWDI of Guelph.

At the very least, this result seems to be counter intuitive. Skeptics may feel the report’s conclusions sound like the reports issued by the tobacco industry a few decades ago that denied a link between tobacco and cancer.

Sure enough, Kitchener’s environmental committee treated the report with scathing skepticism.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said. He wondered not only about the small number of locations used in the study but also about some of the comparisons in the report.

It compared emissions at a drive-thru with emissions made by a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw. This comparison just confuses the issue.

What snowblowers and chainsaws do or do not emit has nothing to do with the question: Does taking a vehicle through a drive-thru produce more emissions than a vehicle that stops and starts in a parking space?

Perhaps the answer depends on the length of time a vehicle spends in a drive-thru.

Tim Hortons might even argue persuasively that the amount emitted at drive-thrus is small compared to all the emissions made by all vehicles, but its current strategy makes the company appear defensive. It would be wise to have an open mind and review its entire policy.

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/459371

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