THOUSANDS of businesses throughout the UK are being asked to follow the example of 20 firms that have helped the environment by using innovative travel plans.
Companies including AstraZeneca, Boots, BP, Egg, Marks & Spencer Financial Services, Orange, Pfizer and Vodafone have provided detailed examples of how they encouraged drivers to move to alternative transport.
The Department for Transport has produced a series of guides for employers, showing how they can reduce traffic congestion around their sites and improve travel choices when away on business.
The 20 in-depth case studies examined by the Government show how employers reduced car driver travel to work by an average 18%, while also saving thousands of pounds a year.
Transport Minister John Spellar said: 'Several thousand organisations across the UK have produced travel plans.
'While the effectiveness of these travel plans in reducing congestion is now widely recognised, many organisations are still not yet aware that they can be financially viable projects in their own right. The trick is to find the right mix of measures to suit their individual circumstances.'
Initiatives to reduce business travel include videoconferencing, introduced by Marks & Spencer Financial Services, while most companies supported cycling, provided shuttle bus services and encouraged the use of trains through discounted season tickets.
A series of six guides are available, covering two areas – Making Travel Plans Work and Using the Planning System to Secure Travel Plans.
A copy of case studies covering 20 companies, called 'Making travel plans work: Lessons from UK case studies' is being sent to the chief executive of every organisation in England employing more than 1,000 staff.
All six documents are available free of charge from: Department for Transport, PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7NB, by calling 0870 1226 236 or emailing email@example.com.
Orange: Telecommunications company, Bristol. Staff numbers: 400. Staff car parking: 95
In 2001 Orange relocated 400 staff to Bristol city centre. Orange looked in detail at travel needs, using mapping software to assess staff journeys, ahead of the move. With the introduction of a travel plan for the new site, the number of cars for every 100 employees dropped by two-thirds. Tight parking at the new location prompted Orange to introduce a system of allocated permits. With 107 spaces, 12 were turned over to 50 cycles and 28 to motorbikes. Two spaces were assigned to disabled drivers. The allocation of permits was based on a system of points scored, including the number of business trips in a week. Options include car sharing and a free bus service.
Before the move, a combination of a car share matching service and bus improvements led to a fall in the proportion of staff driving to work, from 92% to 80% over five years. The move to the city centre, coupled with the introduction of a more comprehensive scheme, led to a far more dramatic reduction – from an average of 79% driving to work to 27%.
Life without the car – but only for a day
MILLIONS of drivers will be encouraged to try life without their cars as 40 local authorities and towns launch In Town Without My Car Day.
The event, which takes place on September 22, is part of a Europe-wide initiative to promote alternative transport (such as cycling) and includes the closure of streets and town centres in many areas.
Its UK origins date back to a street party event during Green Transport Week in Bath in 1995; the first French event was in La Rochelle in 1997.
In 1998 the event expanded across France, and the following year to Italy and Switzerland; 1999 and 2000 saw massive expansion across most countries in the European Union.
Last year's event saw more than 1,000 towns and cities participating throughout Europe and beyond, including ten major British towns and cities, ten London boroughs, and the Greater London Authority's flagship event at Tower Bridge. This year, 17 authorities in London and 23 local authorities throughout the country will take part in the event.