An influential environmental campaigner has called for employers to scrap the role of fleet manager in favour of transport managers, to increase the focus on using alternative transport.
Roger Higman, a senior campaigner on climate and transport with Friends of the Earth, believes fleets could drive a massive shift among road users to trains and even buses by using their power and expertise to the full. His call renews a campaign he launched several year ago in which he asked fleet decision-makers to review their role in business to help combat the threat of global warming.
He said: 'I am asking you to move from managing car and van fleets to managing travel. You could provide a more integrated travel service, booking train or bus tickets. It is important to give people the choice of how they get around.'
Fleet decision-makers should also encourage video-conferencing so that employees could take part in face-to-face meetings without leaving the office.
He said: 'I have used them and they are a lot better than three-and-a-half hours on the motorway or even the train.
'I don't see any reason why video conferencing shouldn't be as common as the fax machine or the photocopier and be a resource to the fleet decision-makers, just as the car is. If you have not already looked at alternatives then you should look at the services available to your employees, from alternative transport to meetings without moving.'
There would be two responses to his call, Higman claimed. Some would simply not be interested, while others would have a more pro-active response and want to manage their fleet employee practices in the most efficient way possible.
And, he said, there were key reasons why fleets needed to think of alternatives, as road tax and company car tax were almost certain to increase, congestion charging would become more widespread, road building would slow and fuel duty would rise.
He added: 'Hopefully companies and fleet decision-makers will think about these things so that they can become more efficient and concentrate on making more money.'