What is a green travel plan?
A green travel plan can be used by businesses and other organisations to identify and promote ways to encourage a range of sustainable, or less environmentally damaging transport modes, usually with the emphasis being on reducing single user private car travel. A plan addresses all transport issues within an organisation including staff travel into their place of work, staff travel on business, clients visiting the organisation’s premises and fleet management.
What are the benefits?
All plans aim to reduce the impact of travel on the environment related to the organisation. However, businesses may have other drivers for implementing the plan. Here are some of the other benefits a green travel plan can bring:
- Reduced business travel costs.
- Reduced staff travel costs.
- Improved physical and mental health of staff, leading to increased productivity and reduced absences.
- Reduced parking problems.
- Reduced local pollution levels.
- Improved corporate image / reputation.
- Improved staff recruitment and retention through offering incentives.
What does a green travel plan cover?
Individual plans will vary between organisations; a city centre business will have more potential to utilise public transport than one based in the countryside, and a factory couldn’t allow home working like some service-based sectors might. It’s important to look at all the options for your business.
A green travel plan should look at all transport options that are available. As you would expect, walking and cycling to work should be promoted and businesses will often provide showers, lockers and bike parking facilities to encourage staff to do this ‘ no one wants to cycle to work and sit in their sweaty clothes all day.
There’s usually a big emphasis to use public transport too, for both travel to and from work and for business-related travel. For travel to and from work, you can make sure public transport information is provided to staff and you might even find local transport providers have discounts available. Some people like having their car with them for security if something went wrong and they needed to leave quickly. To overcome this, you could offer a scheme to provide rides home in emergencies, or if people have been working late.
Car-sharing is also frequently encouraged in travel plans. You could establish who lives in the same areas or travels near to other employees homes to enable them to car-share into and from work. For business-related travel, staff going to the same sites should obviously car-share as it also reduces expenses; you could incorporate this into a procedure to ensure car-sharing is utilised wherever practicable.
Staff might sometimes be reluctant to take the green travel plan onboard; making sure they understand the benefits as well as offering incentives can really help. You could offer preferential parking spaces to those who car share for instance, payments to those who don’t require a parking space, bike purchase schemes, and training for those who aren’t very confident cycling on the road. Providing updates and having back-up arrangements for when public transport doesn’t go to plan might also persuade employees who don’t have much faith in public transport.
As with all changes in a business, it’s important a green travel plan is led from the top. Your staff aren’t going to be happy being told they should be catching the bus if the MD still parks his car in a reserved spot next to the front door each day ‘ the plan should apply to everyone equally and those at the top should be the first to jump on board.
Have you started working towards a green travel plan in your business? We’d love to hear about it!