Packaging the Travel Choices: WORKPLACES
When dealing with workplaces, TravelSmart officers may be dealing with individual employers or a group of organisations at a worksite or office park. In either case the development of an 'Access Plan' is a key step in a Workplace Travel Smart program.
An access plan is a strategy for managing transport access to a development or site. It considers all transport modes and aims to promote access by sustainable modes of transport. These access plans have an important role to play in improving transport access to workplaces as well as reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
Experience in the UK has shown that even the most "basic" access plans have achieved 3 to 5 per cent reductions in the number of employees travelling to work alone by car (Department of Transport, 2002). More innovative packaging of available travel choices supported by employer based incentives and disincentive schemes have achieved 15 to 30 per cent reductions (Department of Transport, 2002)
Clearly there is great potential to reduce reliance on the private car for travel to work and work related travel through the development of workplace based access plans.
This section of the Training Resource Guide provides information about the development and implementation of Access Plans. The specific topics covered are:
- Access Plans: An Introduction
- Making Access Plans Work
- Access Plans and the Development Planning Process
The following resources are also available from the employers kit section of this website:
An access plan is a strategy for managing transport access to a development or site which considers all transport modes and aims to promote access by sustainable modes of transport. Access plans can be viewed as an employer-based package of alternative travel options to the car which considers not only commuting but also more efficient use of the car for work related travel.
Access plans are known by a variety of names. You may see the terms 'green transport plans', 'travel plans', 'green travel plans' or 'travel to work plans' used, particularly in the UK literature. These different names have evolved over time and they all describe written strategies which employers use to influence staff travel behaviour. For consistency with existing TravelSmart initiatives in Australia, the term 'access plan' is used in this training resource guide.
A typical access plan may look at walking, cycling, public transport incentives, flexible ways of working such as telecommuting and car sharing. They can also cover company car fleet issues such as choice of vehicles, driver training and fleet operation.
The development of an access plan involves a number of steps:
- Understanding the current travel patterns of employees - usually through a staff travel survey.
- Identifying the range of travel choices available to people at the workplace which could help them to reduce private car use.
- Setting some targets for different travel modes
- Developing strategies or actions to achieve the targets
- Implementing the access plan
- Monitoring the results of the access plan and as appropriate fine tuning aspects of the plan over time. Follow up surveys play an important role in monitoring the impacts of the access plan on the travel patterns of the employees.
The degree of involvement of a TravelSmart officer in the development and implementation of an access plan will depend upon a number of factors, such as the scope of your TravelSmart program and the willingness of the employer to actively participate.
It may be that some TravelSmart officers are closely involved in all the steps outlined above. Ideally, the employer involved should take an increasingly large degree of interest and responsibility during the process.
Some employers may be willing to undertake all of the steps with only minimal support from the TravelSmart officer. Each employer is different and TravelSmart officers must be prepared to change their approach accordingly.
The UK Department of Transport has recently released an excellent report - Making travel plans work - on how to make travel plans work. The study draws on lessons from a number of UK case studies which have relevance to Australia.
The UK report highlights that effective travel plans:
- Build partnerships - with local authorities, public transport operators and other employers
- Identify site opportunities and barriers - making the most of 'easy wins' and addressing 'missing links' while tailoring measures to the location and its staff
- Encouraging progressive change - with some strategies to unlock car use and others to support sustained use of alternative means of travel
- Gain staff ownership of the plan - with appropriate consultation, fairness, transparency and plenty of 'carrots'
- Raise the profile of travel initiatives - with imaginative promotion and publicity
- Reach key groups of staff - segmenting the market for alternative travel and providing the right message at the right time, to those most likely to respond
- Change aspects of the organizations culture - engaging management commitment, involving dedicated staff time from a travel plan 'champion' and ensuring working arrangements dovetail with travel needs, and
- Focus on results - assessing the impact of individual strategies in reducing car use.
An access plan is an employer-based package of alternative travel options to the car which also suggests ways to use the car more efficiently for in-work travel and commuting.
A typical plan may look at walking, cycling, public transport incentives, flexible ways of working such as telecommuting, car sharing and company car fleet (choice of vehicle, driver training, fleet operation). The information sheets in this pack will give you specific details about promoting each of these modes of transport.
Access plans may also be known as green transport plans, travel plans, green travel plans or travel for work plans.
All describe written strategies which employers use to influence staff travel behaviour. The different names have evolved over time in different circumstances.
However, you will also need to know how to develop your access plan to ensure that your staff will be willing to change and that the changes take place.
Access plans start by recording some key information about your staff's travel habits, before you make any changes to encourage them to travel more sustainably.
A good way to gather this information is through a survey. Questions should typically cover issues such as how staff get to work at the moment, where they travel from, what time they get to and leave work each day and their attitudes to different forms of transport.
The findings of the survey will influence what measures you include in your access plan. For example, if you have a lot of staff living close to work, you may want to concentrate on promoting cycling and walking. If your staff are more dispersed, you might want to look at carpooling, public transport and telecommuting.
This pack includes an example of a survey to give you an idea of the questions asked, as well as a copy of a survey cover letter which you can adapt and send out to staff before the day of the survey, letting them know what it's about and when it's on.
Writing the plan
There are two things to remember when sitting down to write your access plan:
- There is no one right plan. Each employer is different and each access plan will be different.
- We're not expecting a detailed 30 page thesis. The access plan is designed to be clear and straightforward.
From previous experience, an employer can write and gain approval for an access plan within 12 months. Of course, if you can do one sooner, then all the better as this will allow you more time to get on with actually doing it.
The 12 month timetable is based on our experience of how long it takes for an employer to come to grips with the concepts of TravelSmart, write a plan and get it approved internally.
To get you started, we've included a mock plan in this pack for a fictional company in Melbourne's northern suburbs, CCC Industries.
Feel free to adapt this plan for your own use. You might find the checklist of ideas on the back of each of the information sheets on the different forms of transport, useful for your plan.
Who should be involved?
This depends on what you think you need to do internally to get your access plan accepted and approved, so that it will become an active and effective strategy within your organisation, rather than a document gathering dust on a shelf.
You may already have a relevant committee which will be interested in working on the plan. It makes sense to have more than one person working on the plan for the simple reason that it's better to share work around.
This also improves the chance of the access plan being accepted by a wide range of people and departments within your organisation.
On the other hand, you may choose to develop the plan yourself. If you do, it is important that you have the support from senior management. At some point, this plan is going to need to be approved if your employer is going to actually enact it.
Of course, if you are in senior management, you can pretty much choose your own method for developing the plan!