Fleet News

10-point scheme to implement effective travel plans

FLEETS decision-makers must follow 10 steps to success if they are to introduce effective travel plans and encourage staff to use alternative transport, according to the green motoring Motorvate project.

Travel plans, which identify alternatives to most people's reliance on the car, normally begin by tackling commuting journeys, then move on to business travel and could even expand to visitors' travel arrangements.

Christof Marx, senior programme consultant for AEA Technology, which runs the Motorvate scheme, under which employers commit to reduce their corporate CO2 emissions, said: 'To be successful, a travel plan will have to be tailored to an organisation's needs and the site's characteristics. But a number of steps have to be taken to successfully implement a travel plan.'

These include securing senior management support as a priority, identifying who will be responsible for making the scheme work, understanding current travel patterns and identifying objectives.

Companies should then decide on the measures they need to take and consult with employees on their plans.

Marx said: 'Change may create uncertainty among staff and some might event feel threatened. Also, travel is a very personal matter. Therefore it is important to consult on a travel plan throughout the whole development and implementation process.'

Implementation should be backed by awareness raising and marketing and setting key indicators to monitor performance. Marx added: 'Unrealistic targets can be replaced with ones that are more realistic and that encourage rather than discourage those responsible for trying to achieve those targets.'

Case study - Environment Agency

Between 1996/97 and 1998/99 the Thames Region of the Environment Agency achieved a 6% reduction in its business mileage - equivalent to 350,000 fewer miles.

This reduction was realised even with growing business activity. Some of the measures that were used to achieve this were:

  • Setting mileage targets for each department/area and cascading down to the lowest appropriate level – including setting staff personal mileage targets through their performance appraisal scheme
  • Producing a monthly 'top 20 drivers' for management to action
  • Installing video-conferencing
  • Reducing the frequency of meetings and holding them in central locations accessible via public transport
  • Promoting the use of public transport
  • Revising location maps to include information on how to reach sites using public transport
  • Introducing Railplanner and AA Autoroute.
    (Case study source: Travel Plan Resource Pack for Employers, EEBPP)

    An in-depth guide on introducing travel plans, including details on the 10 key steps to take, along with information on the benefits of the schemes.

    A Travel Plan is a package of measures aimed at promoting sustainable travel within an organisation with an emphasis on reducing an organisation's over dependence on single occupancy car travel. All types of organisation are coming under increasing pressure to manage the implications and consequences of over reliance on car use. By implementing a travel plan to reduce reliance of their staff on single-occupancy car travel for commuting and business purposes, organisations are able to actively manage the costs and risks associated with their transport operations.

    A survey published in May 2001 that looked at the take up of travel plans showed that 24% of local authorities surveyed had a travel plan in place while 45% were in the process of developing one, compared with 1998 when only 3% of local authorities had a travel plan. Although the proportion of businesses surveyed that had a travel plan in place was comparatively low at 7%, this was still a very significant increase from the previous survey. The comparative figure for hospitals was 60% and for higher education establishments 50%.

    A Travel Plan can address the various types of travel associated with an organisation's activities. What usually comes first to one's mind are staff commuter journeys to and from work. However, travel plans can reach further and cover business travel undertaken by staff as part of their job, fleet vehicles operated as part of an organisation's activities as well as suppliers and contractors calling at the site. Finally, a travel plan may want to address travel by visitors to and from the site to attend meetings, conference and courses, or shoppers to a retail outlet, patients to a hospital and tourists to a leisure attraction.

    A Travel Plan sets out a strategy that describes how to bring about change to the way we travel. They are based on an analysis of the transport and travel situation within the organisation and a clear identification of weaknesses, problems and inefficiencies in the current arrangements. Thus, travel plans can be a powerful management tool combining resource, environmental and site management activities.

    To be successful, a travel plan will have to be tailored to an organisation's needs and the site's characteristics. But, whatever the focus of the plan a number of steps have to be taken to successfully implement a travel plan:

    1. Secure Senior Management Support - As a first step you will have to secure support of senior management, since without it the travel plan will never get off the ground. Their support is needed for:

  • showing a lead by example,
  • allocating a budget for activities related to the travel plan
  • securing staff time dedicated to the travel plan for those involved in its development
  • agreeing to the go-ahead of new initiatives and of changes to current work practice and arrangements. This will most likely require you to present a business case to senior management, identifying the aims and objectives of the travel plan and an indication of resource requirements and benefits to the organisation.

    2. Identify Roles and responsibilities - You may want to identify a travel plan co-ordinator who will have a central role in the development and implementation of the plan with responsibility for the day-to-day management of the plan. This role needs to be properly resourced and requires a suitable person that has enthusiasm, negotiation skills and excellent communication skills. This could be the fleet manager and depending on the size of the organisation this may be a part time or a full time role.

    A steering group will provide guidance and high-level support and ensure that the views of all key groups within (and outside) the organisation are represented. Finally working groups and special interest groups (such as bicycle and bus user group) support the travel plan co-ordinator. They ensure regular liaison with staff and can take a leading role on certain aspects of the travel plan.

    3. Understanding current travel patterns - Before detailed measures can be developed as part of your travel plan, a staff travel survey needs to be conducted. The survey will give you a good understanding of the transport modes and the distances staff travel to the site, what would encourage them to change to more benign modes of transport and how facilities could be improved for those that do not use the car. The travel survey should be complemented by a site assessment and travel audits. A site assessment is used to gain an understanding of:

  • transport links to and on site
  • shift patterns and their impact on access to the site
  • deterrents to the use of alternative transport modes (such as inadequate footpaths, fear of passing unlit areas on foot at night, infrequent bus services, lack of public transport information)
  • car parking arrangements and car parking policy issues
  • company policies (both formal written policies and informal “unwritten” policies) including business travel rules, recruitment policies, fleet vehicle policies, general conditions of employment regarding travel to and from work.

    Finally, audits will give you information about other travel generated by the organisation, including business and visitor travel, deliveries, suppliers and fleet vehicles. A business travel audit for example will help you to identify modes used for business travel, time spent on organising business travel, expenditure (for fares, fuel, company cars, allowances, insurance costs, admin and management charges) and time spent on roads in the car.

    Information from these surveys and audits will provide a baseline against which to measure the success of any future activities.

    4. Identify objectives - Each travel plan is different. The travel plan will have to set objectives that are specific to the site's requirements. The objectives are high level aims such as “To reduce the need for business travel”, which give the travel plan a clear direction.

    5. Identify appropriate measures to achieve your objectives - There is a wide range of potential measure that can be taken to achieve your objectives and reduce single occupancy car use, such as:

  • managing car parking
  • facilitate car sharing
  • reduce the need to travel for business
  • increase the fuel efficiency of the fleet
  • improve walking and cycling facilities on site and off site in collaboration with the local authority
  • ensure the site is well served by public transport and linked with the railway station
  • relevant trip planning information is easily available to staff, clients and visitors.

    This is by no means a comprehensive list, in fact, the number of potential measures is almost endless and only limited by local circumstances. This means the type and mix of measures have to be tailored to those circumstances, including political and economic constrains.

    6. Consultation and Adoption - Developing a travel plan means “change”. Change in the way an organisation works and change in the way employees travel to and as part of work. Change may create uncertainty among staff and some might event feel threatened. Also, travel is a very personal matter. Therefore it is important to consult on a travel plan throughout the whole development and implementation process. As a travel plan will affect everyone, all staff need to be consulted. Depending on the scope of your plan, consultation of external contacts will be appropriate, e.g. the local authority, public transport operators, visitors, clients etc.

    Once you have revised your plan in light of comments received during consultation you want to get the plan formally adapted.

    7. Implementation - Changing travel behaviour is a long-tem process and implementing a travel plan strategy may take a long time. It is therefore important to be able to get some quick wins, i.e. measures that can be easily implemented in the short term and have a high visibility, showing that things are happening and that travel problems are being tackled. The plan's package of measures will usually consist of “Carrots” and “Sticks”. Incentives should be put in place first, disincentives later, to get people more supportive of the travel plan and to encourage a change in travel behaviour.

    8. Targets and indicators - Targets are measurable goals that allow you to measure whether you accomplished what you set out to achieve with your plan. Targets relate to the overall objectives of the plan, e.g. “to reduce business mileage by 4% by June 2003” or “to increase the number of meetings using video-conferencing by 10% by June 2003”. Setting targets is crucial, as it will allow you to monitor progress and to justify the time and resources spent on travel plan measures. You may also want to develop indicators that can be monitored (e.g. “number of miles travelled for business” or “number of external meetings using video-conferencing”) so that you know whether you achieve your targets.

    9. Awareness raising and marketing - Travel plans need constant marketing effort to ensure everybody in the organisation clearly understands the reasons for having a travel plan in the first place. Marketing is also required to keep everybody informed about the measures introduced. Staff respond well to initiatives that result in personal benefits such as time and cost savings and potential health benefits. Successes, however small, should be publicised whenever there is an opportunity. Developing a clear marketing campaign with milestones for each stage in the travel plan will ensure that staff awareness and interest is maintained.

    10. Continues improvement - Review your objectives, targets and indicators in the light of changing circumstances or the fact that change was not achieved. Unrealistic targets can be replaced with ones that are more realistic and that encourage rather than discourage those responsible for trying to achieve those targets.

    This process is a reflection of the fact that a travel plan is not a written document or a one-off event but an ongoing process. Continuously reviewing the travel plan will help to develop and improve the plan and ensure that the measures introduced are mirror the organisation's requirements.

    The Benefits of Travel Plans

    Travel plans can bring a range of benefits to the organisation, to staff, to the local community and the environment. Key benefits from the organisation's point of view include:

  • reducing the demand for car parking, thus negating the need to build and maintain more costly parking spaces
  • effective management of on-site parking and traffic problems, which may affect applications for planning permission for extensions and new developments
  • improving access to the site by employees, visitors and deliveries
  • helping control transport and travel expenditure
  • healthier and more motivated workforce
  • image gains and a better environment.

    These benefits are greater where sites are congested and/or constrained, where parking costs are high, where car-parking areas could be used for site extensions and where site access or staff recruitment is a problem.

    Often opponents of travel plans quote apparent disadvantages of travel plans, for example, that they restrict freedom and privileges of staff and are costly.

    In fact, travel plans create a more level playing field and make travel arrangements more equitable: improved public transport links, car sharing, and improvements to cycling and walking facilities allow those without access to a car to get more easily to work or to take up employment opportunities. Providing attractive alternatives to car use means you are more likely to retain staff and may help in widening your access to labour markets, thereby reducing recruitment and training costs.

    Many different types of employers have introduced travel plans and have shown that travel plans make economic sense, in many cases saving the organisation more money in reduced fuel bills, parking costs and lost working time, than they spend on managing their travel plan and associated measures.

    Further Guidance

    The Government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme (EEBPP) provides free advice and assistance to organisations on travel plans and 'green' fleet management.

    As part of this, the EEBPP offers a free on-site consultancy service of up to 5 days to help organisations develop and implement an effective travel plan. Similar assistance is also available specifically on fleet management to help improve fuel-efficiency and minimise business related vehicle use.

    The EEBPP also provides a number of travel plan guides, the most important of which is a travel plan resource pack for employers (GD0041) which provides a one-stop resource to assist with the implementation of a travel plans.

    For any transport queries, access to free advice and to order free publications contact the Environment and Energy Helpline on Tel. 0800 585 794. Alternatively, visit the EEBPP's website on www.energy-efficiency.gov.uk/transport where you will find further information about travel plans and fleet management, as well as an events register, relevant web-site links and downloadable publications.

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