THINKING ABOUT THE RANGE OF TRAVEL CHOICES
Travel for Work
While most of this pack is about staff traveling to work, it's also important for employers to consider the impact of business travel undertaken throughout the day.
Often, business travel arrangements can be easier for an employer to influence.
This section examines three alternative staff travel options:
- fleet management
- car parking management (which also affects the commuting behaviour of staff)
- virtual meetings (where business travel can be replaced by other forms of communication).
Over 50 per cent of new vehicles registered annually in Australia are purchased by fleets.
That means employers have a major role to play in tackling Australia's transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. The good thing is that effective management of your fleet not only results in a better environment, it can also save you money.
Research has found that successful fleet management depends on two key factors:
- an annual review process aimed at reducing fleet size and maximising vehicle use; and
- selecting the most appropriate, energy efficient vehicle for the task.
In addition to these elements, the following tools are important in supporting best practice fleet management:
- a policy on transport management, to optimise the transport requirements of an organisation;
- management support, and cost structures, associated with the operation of the fleet;
- a flexible pool of cars to maximise sharing of vehicles;
- minimal home garaging - provided only when a business case has been made; and
- driver training conducted with a focus on awareness of fuel efficiency and safety issues.
Best practice fleet management is not achieved in any one of these tools, but through a combination, to form an integrated strategy which is implemented over the short, medium and long term.
The aim of good energy efficient fleet management terms is to get more kilometres from the same amount of fuel used. Keep the following strategies in mind when developing a fleet management strategy.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT VEHICLE think function, not fashion
- Clearly identify the real task requirement and choose a vehicle to suit.
- Review your transport needs regularly.
- Survey your users on their needs.
- Ask for fuel consumption information when obtaining vehicle specifications.
- Buy the most efficient vehicle for the task.
MAINTAINING YOUR FLEET optimising performance and savings
- Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your vehicles fuel efficient and clean running.
- Make sure drivers know their maintenance responsibilities.
- Better car maintenance can translate directly into savings at the pump - a reduction of up to 20% in fuel usage can be achieved.
- Service and check vehicles regularly.
MONITORING YOUR FLEET: looking for savings opportunities
- Monitor fuel consumption. It's an easy first step.
- Also as part of your vehicle monitoring, record: oil and water make up; tyre wear and replacement; servicing.
- Monitoring vehicle accidents and the associated repair costs can highlight a problem area.
- If you use a fuel card, check the monthly statements for fuel consumption that falls outside the norm.
MANAGING YOUR FLEET: less means more
- Plan ahead. The single-occupant vehicle or single- purpose trip to deliver or pick up a small item is an energy intensive and expensive journey.
- Combine trips. Check the routing.
- Establish best practice monitoring processes, based on quality information supported by company policy.
- Prepare an action plan to monitor, manage and reduce your costs - and communicate it to those involved.
- Encourage good driver habits.
- Reduce your fleet vehicle numbers.
ENCOURAGING ALL DRIVER: Setting good examples
- Provide incentives and other encouragement for staff to adopt energy-efficient travel habits and cost-effective driving.
- Educate your drivers and communicate with them regularly.
- Provide easy access to alternatives: timetables for public transport; facilities for those who cycle.
- Develop a teleworking policy for staff.
GOOD DRIVER HABITS: Old drivers can learn new habits
- Provide driver training and information - less aggressive driving can improve fuel economy by up to 30%.
- Encourage your staff to adopt good driving habits.
- Reward good driving and travel habits.
Websites for detailed strategies on fleet management:
Getting started on fleet management
As a first step, it is important to gain senior management support to review fleet management policy. Once you have this you can do an audit of your fleet to identify actions and set targets that could save the fleet around 10% of its operating costs and reduce total fuel consumption by 5%.
It is recommended that fleet audit be conducted by an independent qualified consultant.
Another way to progress is to join the Greener Motoring initiative, run by the Australasian Fleet Managers Association and supported by the Commonwealth government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice program.
The target for Greener Motoring is to reduce fuel consumption of participating fleets by up to 15 per cent by June 2003.
The benefits of the program for fleet managers and owners include significant cost savings and a reduction in the fuel usage and emissions through:
- cost savings through a series of approaches designed to reduce fuel usage;
- a structured selection of vehicles that are matched to the operational needs of the organization;
- improved driver safety; and
- public and peer recognition through a well publicized best practice recognition program.
The prime objective of this campaign is to build momentum and provide an incentive to mobilize industry leaders, improve standards of environmental performance and generate peer support.
By registering for the program, you will gain access to a comprehensive how-to guide, case studies and sample procedures that are available in the download section of the website - www.greenermotoring.com.au
Additionally, you will have access to a help desk that will assist you as you work through the guide.
A lack of sufficient car parking for staff is often a major reason why employers are interested in the TravelSmart program.
It's also one of the major concerns of staff that you'll hear if you suggest promoting travel alternatives: "you just want to take my car parking space!"
Car parking is often viewed by staff as less of a privilege than a right and employers ignoring car parking problems for staff do so at their own risk. For many prospective staff, the lack of a space can put them off applying for a job.
The challenge for TravelSmart employers is to change staff perceptions about car parking by getting them to understand that there are alternatives and that the employer is committed to helping them if they want to try these.
Where there is plenty of car parking, it becomes much more difficult to coax staff out of their cars.
Employers need to consider actively managing their car parks rather than simply allowing equal access for all. The criteria should be based on job requirements and transport needs rather than seniority and first come, first served.
For example, parking permits might be issued to those who:
- have a disability;
- have to use their car during work hours;
- are carpooling;
- live too far away and have no realistic alternatives; or
- have responsibilities as carers (such as dropping off small children) which cannot be met using public transport.
Whatever changes you make to parking at your workplace, it's important to make them as part of an access plan. This shows staff and management that you have an overall strategy in mind from which they will all ultimately benefit.
Changes to the car parking regime may mean that some people miss out on spaces that they previously considered theirs by right, but if this "stick" is balanced with sufficient "carrots" which end up giving them more alternatives for getting to and from work, they are more likely to accept the need to change.
Listed below are some car parking management ideas you can include in your access plan.
- Identify priority users of car park e.g. people with disabilities, shift workers, carpoolers.
- Introduce or increase charges for car parking and use money raised for TravelSmart initiatives
- Re-allocate car parking spaces for bicycle parking
- Reduce number of car parking permits allocated
- Reclaim car parking spaces with a garden and office buildings
- Introduce an exclusion zone restricting car parking permits for staff living in close proximity to the site
- Provide sustainable transport allowances for staff who surrender car parking permits
- Review policy on providing parking permits for new staff
- Offer cash incentives for staff willing to give up car parking spaces
Meetings can be useful if they're well run and focused. Of course, if we all took into account the full costs of running meetings, including the travel costs to get there, we might use them a little more efficiently.
A virtual meeting is one where traveling to the meeting is replaced by using communications technologies, such as phone or computer, to run the meeting at a distance.
Participants in virtual meetings are generally more conscious of the telecommunications costs even though these will often be lower than the alternative travel costs. This awareness can help the meetings run more smoothly.
Virtual meetings aren't for everyone. They work best where you have a group of people who already know each other and who are prepared to give it a try. It's also useful to get together for some face-to-face time every now and then.
So, how do you do it?
Perhaps the easiest form of virtual meeting is a telephone conference. Conference phones can be installed in a workplace allowing a number of people to gather around a table and hold a meeting with one or more people at another location. It's a good idea not to have too many people around a conference phone as voices can be difficult to recognise.
The next logical step from this is videoconferencing-adding pictures to sound. The price and quality of videoconferencing equipment can range from a simple webcam attached to a personal computer to a top of the range videoconferencing suite.
You may want to consider an e-mail session which might last on and off for a few days. This is ideal for work such as drafting documents between a number of different partners.
Of course, it's important to get the right equipment to make all these methods work smoothly. What you use will depend on what you need.
Before you get nervous about how much this is all going to cost, go and have a look at how much work mileage you're paying for each month and then think about how "expensive" the alternatives are.