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UNIVERSITIES TRAVELSMART RESOURCE KIT, 2003

ACTION STEP 2 - FINDING THE CHAMPIONS

The initial impetus to develop a university Travel Demand Management (TDM) Plan may come from interested staff or students, or from outside agencies such as local government or state transport agencies. This section should enhance your understanding of how to find and bring others with you to work through the university decision-making structures and processes to develop a TDM Plan, and the information you will need if you are to gain support.

Establishing administrative support in the university

Generating administrative and financial support for development of a TDM Plan will need to be justified by benefits to the university. This should be supported by evidence of financial accounting benefits, supplemented by social and environmental benefits included as a triple bottom line assessment. A suggested framework for calculating the benefits and costs to the university is set out under 'Benefits and Costs of Travel Demand Management Plans'.

Working Groups

Further evidence of the demand for travel planning should also come from support among the administrative staff, teaching faculty and student population at the university (Woolmer 2003). Establishing a working group of interested participants should provide the platform for informing staff, faculty and students, and facilitate gathering 'grass roots' support.

The working group can comprise of interested faculty and other staff, student representatives and transport user groups (if any exist) such as Bicycle User Groups. The University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus) also trained interested staff and students as 'Go Green Coordinators', to provide an information conduit between the larger University population and those developing the transport plan (UBC TREK Program Centre 1999).

Targeting the university organisation

After establishing a working party, gathering support from the wider university community and articulating benefits to the university, the next step must be to obtain official assistance to develop a TDM Plan. Finding the appropriate departments and personnel within the university structure to assist in preparing the plan and to target its outcomes is fundamental to efficiently progressing plan development and acceptance.

Each university has variations in its organisational structure, and travel planning functions are often fragmented across a number of administrative departments. See for example www.ecu.edu.au/fas/organisation_goals.html. The key is to gain managerial support within the departments responsible for parking, projects, grounds development and other relevant departments. It is important to gain the support from the administrative chief executive, general manager or similar top-level official.

Champions for the 'cause'

Finding support from senior staff in the early stages of seeking support for the Plan provides a significant boost to the campaign's progress. It is very beneficial to the successful development of a TDM Plan if contact is be made with a variety of senior staff in the early stages, gaining their commitment to support the plan.

The UK Department for Transport describes how staff can make presentations on the proposal to senior management, how senior management can publicly support the plan through participating in events or provide signed statements in support of the travel plan proposal (Department for Transport 2002a p39).

The Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University provided a statement in support of the Green Commuter Plan (Oxford Brookes University 1999). At the University of Bristol the Vice Chancellor walks to work and the Assistant Director of Facilities has undertaken the role of champion for the University's travel plan (Department for Transport 2002b).

Facilitating participation by the university community and stakeholders

Successfully implementing TDM initiatives, especially controversial ones such as parking restraint, require that both staff and students support the principles and objectives of the transport plan. To engender support, "consultation is essential - both to shape the plan and gain acceptance and ownership for new initiatives" (Department for Transport 2002a p26). Where past initiatives have not included staff, academic faculty or student consultation, there is little participative support (University of Western Australia 2003) or even obstruction to implementation (Curtin University 2003a).

Agreeing common goals is fundamental to successful progress and implementation. Developing relationships with stakeholders outside the university is also a critical step in participative planning. Establishing good relationships with local authorities, transport service providers, community organisations and neighbouring businesses or land uses is necessary to achieve off-site infrastructure improvement (Department for Transport 2002a).

Transport Committees

Universities that established a formal process for regular involvement with non-university stakeholders have more often secured improvements in off-site infrastructure and services. A review of national and international university travel plans revealed a variety of structures and dialogue processes for stakeholder involvement.

To develop and implement a plan delivering changes to travel patterns in a university environment, a Transport Committee or Working Party is needed. Committees should comprise senior representatives from university departments, non-university stakeholders and representatives from staff and faculty unions and student unions/guilds. Experience shows that the role of non-university stakeholders varied from one of regular participation at committee meetings, to contact as required.

For efficient use of stakeholder resources and time, working groups should focus on "problem diagnosis, policy development and introduction of implementation measures" (Oxford Brookes University 1999).

Involving transport operators and the local council in developing a public transport access guide to the university site can facilitate services and infrastructure support essential to achieving on-site transport aims (Roads and Traffic Authority n.d.). There should also be a focus on working with the local authority to restrict parking and enforce the restrictions in surrounding streets (Department for Transport 1999). Local authorities can also provide advice on developing transport plans, specific planning and roads issues and may be a source of funding for on-site infrastructure development (Department for Transport 2002a)

Transport Co-ordinators / TravelSmart Officers

For effective implementation it is important to establish ongoing participation and information sharing. In Western Australia this has become the role of a Transport Coordinator or TravelSmart Officer. Funding sources can comprise state government, local government, or university, or a combination of these. The officer takes on the role of coordinating the implementation of the plan and liaising with relevant government departments and interest groups. Transport Committees then meet less frequently. Their role is to update the TDM Plan and develop new initiatives to achieving sustainable travel change.