Although it is important for us all to consider the effects of our choices on the environment as individuals, organisations are in an even stronger position to make a difference.
One way in which they can do this is to implement green travel plans (GTPs). This is a general introduction. For more information on what GTPs cover, how to develop them and the potential benefits, download the Department for Transport’s ‘Travel plan resource pack for employers’ at the bottom of this page.
What is a GTP?
Sometimes called travel demand management plans, GTPs started in America more than a decade ago. They are management plans that combine transport with other business issues to create a co-ordinated strategy. Good practices like pollution control and waste prevention that began as environmental causes are now accepted as ways to increase competitiveness. Addressing all transport issues within an organisation, GTPs cover staff travelling to work and on business, customers visiting premises and fleet management. They aim to reduce the impact of travel on the environment but, by using transport more efficiently, can also save money and make life easier for employees.
GTPs include measures to make better use of all transport options. Naturally, walking and cycling are encouraged, with showers, lockers and cycle parking. Public transport information is provided, often with discounts from local operators or subsidies from the organisation. You can increase confidence in these modes of transport by offering an emergency ride home scheme so people can get home quickly if there is an emergency or after working late.
You can influence employees’ travel choices through parking restrictions and payments for staff who don’t use parking spaces. You can support car sharing by creating a participant database and providing preferential parking spaces.
There is scope for great improvements in business travel, from encouraging use of public transport to running greener fleets. Simple measures include more fuel-efficient vehicles and a carefully structured expenses system that makes public transport more appealing.
Finally, you can change the way people work. This has been made possible in many cases by developments in computing and communication. Increased teleworking and teleconferencing can significantly reduce the need to travel.
All drivers know how parking problems have steadily increased, to the point where many find it difficult to leave their vehicle anywhere near their homes or workplaces. This is a major headache for organisations, which have to cover the high costs of providing, maintaining, operating and enlarging car parks. These costs all have to be taken into account in the cost of employing staff.
Sites that can only be reached by private transport may find it more difficult to recruit staff. Introducing a GTP, with a car share scheme or improved bus, rail, cycle or pedestrian links, has helped tackle labour shortages for organisations from the aerospace industry to Manchester Airport.
Most people are concerned about the environment. Even more are worried about the effect of pollution on public health. With increased public awareness, people are no longer fooled by content-free green-labelling. You need a solid statement explaining real actions taken by your organisation to improve its environmental performance. A responsible corporate image is an important aspect of modern business; a GTP can help you in creating one.
Led from the Top
Reducing the harmful effects of modern life on the environment requires effort from everyone, individuals and organisations alike. Government cannot deliver it alone but the GTP initiative is led from the top. Large government offices are now required to have GTPs and most public-sector organisations are also implementing them, giving a clear lead for the private sector to follow.
The Bigger Picture
GTPs are an important part of the Government’s integrated transport policy, designed to reduce car use and hence congestion, pollution and global warming. They are supported by tax measures introduced in the March 1999 budget. There are many other initiatives running in parallel to try to deliver cleaner air, greener buildings, better energy-efficiency and lower water usage.
The ETA supports any initiative that encourages organisations to consider their use of transport and enable their employees to change their travel patterns. GTPs are presented by business for business, increasing their credibility with those who have yet to be convinced of the importance of environmental concerns. They deliver other key benefits so that they make sense even to those who will never be convinced of the importance of environmental concerns.
Department for Transport Web Site http://www.dft.gov.uk