Monday, July 25, 2005

Employer Travel Plans

Each day many people run the gauntlet to get to work, by car, bike, train, bus or on foot. But what do employers do to promote the greener methods of transport and do they actually have a travel plan for their staff or are staff left to their own devices to get to work on time, and do employers think about the impact that they have on our roads each morning and afternoon?

A travel plan is a package of measures which are tailored to the needs of individual work sites and aimed at promoting greener, cleaner travel choices and reducing reliance on the car. It involves the development of a set of initiatives and targets that enable organisations to reduce the impact of travel and transport on the environment, whilst also bringing a number of other benefits to employers and staff.

Currently employers may be asked to produce a travel to work plan by the Council when applying for planning permission for the property they are building or converting into suitable premises for their business, but how many employers produce a travel plan to benefit themselves and their workforce, or produce one to ensure that their staff are coming to work in a sustainable way?

A travel plan needs to contain a mix of incentives and disincentives such as car sharing, promoting more use of public transport, encouraging walking and cycling, restricting on-site car parking spaces and supporting alternative work practices which reduce the need to travel.

I know of one company which not only provides cycle racks, and showers for workers to freshen up before they start their day at work, but also encourages worker to purchase a bicycle through their company benefits scheme, making this friendly form of transport, appealing, accessible and financially attractive, and it is this form of forward thinking initiatives that Bath and North East Somerset Council should be recognising, championing and promoting.

The Planning, Transportation, Economy and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Chaired by myself will be looking at Employer Travel Plans as part of a 3 month review, and will lead by example, in revisiting, developing and looking at current practice of the Employer Travel Plan of the Council, gathering relevant national guidance and good practice guidelines, investigate other local authorities approach and look at existing Employer Travel Plans amongst employers in Bath and North East Somerset.

Roads in Bath and North East Somerset simply can not cope with anymore traffic and with much needed developments on the horizon such as Bath Western Riverside and Southgate which will bring a much needed boost to the area’s economy this does have to happen with minimal impact the volume of traffic on our roads. First are keen to invest in better and more user friendly buses for Bath and North East Somerset in order to encourage public transport and Bath and North East Somerset are looking at developing Park and Ride provision for the city, and this should be reflected in Employer Travel Plans as they are considered and more importantly reviewed. Travel plans should not be allowed to sit on the shelf as a document gathering dust but should be a working document which changes as new initiatives and more suitable modes of transport become available. More and more areas across the city are asking to be considered for Residential Parking Control in order to eliminate commuter parking and we will soon see free commuter parking spaces removed from Royal Victoria Park.

If employers do and the Council do not work together on this issue the likelihood is that staff will find it increasingly difficult to get to work and Bath and North East Somerset will become a less attractive place to locate a business, which will have a knock on effect on the economy. People need to get out of their cars and get to work by more sustainable methods, the lead on this should come from the Council working in partnership with employers. This is why this review is being undertaken to ensure that the Bath and North East Somerset Council is ready to give good advice and guidance.

We will be inviting local employers to come and speak to the panel about their Employer Travel Plans and the benefits it brings to them and will be looking at how we can encourage employers to develop their own plans. We also would like to hear views from all residents on travel plans by writing to, Cllr David Dixon, Employer Travel Plan Review, The Guildhall, High Street, Bath, BA1 5AW or by email: