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Insight: Should car journeys be the last resort?

Work-related travel is an essential component of modern business.

In its simplest form, it entails the movement of employees to their place of work.

Then there’s the means by which those same staff are transported in order to carry out their duties.

According to research from the RAC Foundation and the British Chambers of Commerce, people travel most frequently for meetings with clients and customers, then meetings with other companies and finally internal company meetings.

The car remains the principal mode of transport for business travel, followed by rail and air.

But over the past decade, there has been an increased awareness of the environmental impact of work-related travel as well as the amount it costs.

Furthermore, many large organisations are now compelled to report the extent of their business travel in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports.

Travel plans: what they are and why they matter

Businesses of all sizes are increasingly looking at the financial and environmental savings that can result from introducing a travel plan.

A travel plan is a strategy for managing the travel generated by an organisation with the aim of reducing its environmental impact.

They typically combine measures to support walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing which are reinforced with promotion and incentives. They can focus on both commuter and business travel.

Heather McInroy, programme director of Ways2Work (a Government-backed initiative to increase efficiency through better ways of working and travelling), says: “A travel plan should always be tailored to meet an organisation’s individual needs.

“But there are certain fundamental principles that can be adhered to.

“These are frequently referred to as travel hierarchies which represent agreed protocols governing what happens if someone needs to travel to a meeting.

“This is a great foundation upon which the finer details – relating to an organisation’s size, geographical location and fleet size – can be implemented.”

Travel plans are now forming part of many organisations’ plans to manage costs and carbon emissions, according to David Watts, fleet partnership manager at the Energy Saving Trust (EST).

“There is an ever-increasing awareness that work-related travel is costing businesses a great amount of money – and this is something that they are increasingly looking to bring under control,” Watts says.

McInroy agrees that, depending on the size of an organisation, there are “massive potential savings”.

She adds: “But the importance of getting a travel plan in place goes beyond these immediate savings.

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