Fleet News

Transport Minister appeals to UK fleet decision-makers to cut umbilical cord between drivers and company cars.

TRANSPORT Minister John Spellar has made a direct appeal to UK fleet decision-makers to promote travel flexibility among staff and cut the umbilical cord between drivers and their company cars.

In an exclusive interview with Fleet News Net, Spellar outlined how fleet chiefs and the Government can work in tandem to ensure improved travel conditions for employees and the wider population.

'Employees must not be wedded to their cars. Instead they must think about the best way to conduct a journey and think flexibly,' said Spellar.

'Fleet managers should encourage that flexibility and that in turn will ease congestion and reduce stress on employees thinking they will be late for meetings. The Government side is to make sure there is a reliable, clean and effective transport system in place.'

Spellar became Transport Minister following June's general election and in a distinct softening of the Government's view of motorists - including company car drivers - as a cash cow he believes the two sides must work together to solve traffic congestion.

Urban tolls and workplace parking charges have both been widely touted as solutions to town and city centre traffic congestion, but local authorities have not flocked to implement such schemes - only Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has put forward active proposals.

Spellar appeared to concede that such projects were not a panacea when he dismissed as 'fanciful' the idea that one solution could solve congestion in an urban area.

A year after the launch of the Government's much-trumpeted £180 billion 10-year transport plans Spellar says road building will play a significant role in solving congestion.

'Congestion on roads is something we have to manage. That is not being anti-car or driving motorists off the road. It is a recognition that there must be a means to manage that level of traffic. That can be by road building, improving junctions and through technology but it can also be done by encouraging flexible transport thinking,' he said.

The Government is also promoting the use of a variety of traffic management techniques. For example, the traffic information signs and speed management programmes similar to those operating on the M25 could soon be deployed on other motorways.

'There are a lot of traffic management measures which can be introduced to allow travel times to be predicted. It is that predictability which is crucial to business whether it is a salesman travelling to an appointment or freight being delivered,' said Spellar

. Dismissing suggestions that the Government was not moving fast enough in turning proposals outlined in the 10-year plan into reality he said: 'There is a major road building programme being introduced and there is more to come.'

  • Read the full interview in this week's Fleet News - out today. For a subscription to Fleet News, click here.

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