Bristol City Council is carrying out a nine-month pilot of Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s CarShare programme for its employees in central Bristol.
The programme is similar to pool car schemes and is targeted at employees who have to make frequent, short trips in and around Bristol as part of their job .
It is hoped that access to these vehicles will help the council reduce the costly practice of staff using their own cars for work trips, as well as reduce congestion and CO2 emissions.
It forms a key part of the council’s commitment to reducing congestion in the city. It is reducing or removing staff car parking from office locations wherever possible and instead supporting its employees to use alternative forms of commuter and inter-office travel, such as this initiative.
A salary sacrifice scheme to purchase bicycles and bus tickets is also part of the benefits package on offer to staff.
The pilot is currently open to approximately 160 employees and uses five fuel-efficient cars.
So far 95 employees have been issued with passwords to the online Enterprise CarShare booking system and given the swipe cards necessary to lock and unlock the cars.
Nick Gingell, fleet manager at Bristol City Council, said: “We want to move away from mileage reimbursement.
"Where employees use their own cars for business trips it’s expensive, time-consuming to administer and causes both traffic and parking congestion around our offices and the city.
"Plus we have no control over the CO2 emissions of those cars.
“As well as encouraging employees to use other forms of transport, we’re investing in technology that enables staff to do more of their work without the need to travel at all.
"But where our services still require employees to travel by car as part of their work, Enterprise’s car usage data will enable us to monitor travel patterns, frequency of use and journey costs.
“Enterprise ran a number of ‘signing up’ sessions for those staff requiring use of a CarShare vehicle, to help them understand what we’re trying to achieve.
"During the sessions they worked with our own officers to check driving licenses, issue membership cards, demonstrate the booking system and go through the rules for using the cars.”
Adrian Bewley (pictured), director of business rental UK & Ireland at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said: “The council’s aim with this pilot is to test whether it is a viable alternative to employees using their own vehicles, and by doing so reduce mileage costs and carbon emissions.
“Mileage reimbursement is still widespread in the public sector, but a number of forward-thinking councils and other organisations are trying to encourage a real behaviour change among their drivers to move away from the grey fleet.
"If they use alternatives such as car sharing it can drastically reduce costs, improve their CO2 footprint and, as in this case, help cut down the need for employee parking near city centre offices.”