The Development of Workplace Travel Plans

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    Workplace travel plans, which were originally conceived as a measure to ‘green’ commuter travel, have been running within the UK since the early 1990s. Much work has been done to identify best practice for implementing a travel plan in its early stages of development. This has resulted in guidance from the DfT, local authorities, private consultancies and the upcoming British Standard. Possibly the most influential of these documents was the DfTs ‘Smarter Choices Changing
    the Way We Travel’ in 2005, which claimed that initiatives such as travel plans could reduce peak urban traffic from between 5%‐21% and nationwide cut traffic between 2%‐11%. But travel plans are not static, and the factors determining their initial uptake may not be ones that sustain their long term development. Little work has been done in the UK on what sustains a travel plan in the long term. This research explores how travel plans evolve over time. It demonstrates that in some cases travel plans have developed from a parking or planning compliance tool to become more of a business management tool that helps an organisation work more effectively. This change in emphasis could be attributed to the change in motivations for a travel plan. The paper will first explore how these motivations for a travel plan have changed. This is based on the results of a survey of 25 travel planners within predominately private sector organisations, with travel plans that have been running for on average 5 or more years. The results reveal a shift from the original motivation of a planning consent, which was both externally imposed and compulsory, to more internally driven motivations. A planning condition was the original motivation for 68% of organisations surveyed. However, when organisations were asked what were the current motivations driving a travel plan, there was a notable shift to internal motivations. Environment and
    corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues were the main motivation for 28% of organisations, with other internal motivations such as recruitment, business growth and access also given. A planning consent had dropped to be a motivation for only 12% of organisations. These results compare well with those of a survey undertaken by Center of Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, which surveyed members the Association of Commuter Transport in America. The findings show that as travel plans mature, the regulatory agenda becomes less important. This research has further explored this shift through a series of in depth interviews with UK employers, indicating that travel plans are impacting on organisations in a much wider way. Travel plans are being incorporated into CSR agendas and wider environmental policies. Links are also developing into Human Resources to help an organisation become an employer of choice and deepen the labour market. In some cases there is an understanding of the need to address travel jointly from a business and commute perspective, as the two are closely dependent upon each other. This has led to a more holistic
    approach that not only considers the mode of travel, but the place of work and ways of working. A common explanation of the benefits of these working practices is to empower staff in the times, places and ways of working, which was felt led to greater levels of motivation and productivity. The research has noted a large variation in practices and management support for travel plans, so as part of the process of explaining why travel plans work better in some organisations than others, aspects of Roger’s ‘Theory of Diffusion’ have been used. These areas include the ‘Attributes of an Innovation’, with particular interest in the compatibility of the travel plan initiatives with the roles and working practices of staff, and the extent to which travel plans match the culture of the organisation. What has become clear is that initiatives such as bus service improvements and car share schemes are likely to work better within functions with regular working patterns, but receive poor uptake in less structured roles. This type of role tends to respond better to more flexibility in working practices that address the need to travel in the first place. This suggests that a travel plan needs to be also integrated into the development of new working patterns rather than being a separate activity that just develops travel initiatives. This is a very different process to that which happens in the early stages of a travel plan. The other area of Rogers considered was the ‘Process of Innovation in an Organisation’. This process involves the stages of agenda setting, matching, redefining, clarifying and routinising. Rogers shows this as a linear process, but it has become clear in
    this research that it is a dynamic iterative process. For travel plans to survive and become embedded, they need to move dynamically and iteratively through this process, by constantly adapting to meet the new business challenges for an organisation; whether it is growth and expansion, re‐location and consolidation, or adapting to more flexible working practices to meet global demands and greater efficiencies. This constant adaptation increases the likelihood that a
    travel plan will graduate from purely a car parking or planning tool to become a business management tool that is valued and sustained. The research demonstrates that the motivations that drove a travel plan to be implemented initially are unlikely to be those that sustain them now or in the future. Perhaps planning and policy is too focussed on the early stages and not enough on growing and maturing travel plans, with the result that travel plans are too narrow, concentrating on parking issues or a planning application. There is a danger that policies and the emerging British Standard will be built around this ‘Kindergarten’ view of travel planning. But unless travel plans do get past these early stages, they will not yield the transport benefits that ‘Smarter Choices’ indicated, nor offer the business benefits required to sustain them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUniversity Transport Studies Group Annual Conference
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2009
    EventUniversities' Transport Studies Group - London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 5 Jan 20097 Jan 2009


    ConferenceUniversities' Transport Studies Group
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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