Implementing car sharing schemes can save businesses money

In order to reduce the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with people using their cars too much, the UK government is trying to encourage sustainable travelling.

Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) indicate 37% of miles driven in the UK are for commuting and business purposes, with 85 per cent of these trips being made without any passengers. Because of this, companies are one of the key groups the government is targeting to try and encourage car sharing schemes.

As well as benefiting the environment, it is claimed organisations that help their workers to reduce single occupancy vehicle use will see financial and productivity advantages. The DfT suggested businesses with 2,000 employees would typically save around £200,000 a year if they set up such a scheme for staff. One incentive some councils are adopting is offering all drivers a guaranteed car parking space until 10am if they carry passengers.

Another initiative, launched earlier this year, is the National Business Travel Network, which aims to promote smarter travel choices for commercial firms. 'Fleet Directory' website looked at the scheme and agreed that car sharing could save firms money and time, especially as car sharing lanes are beginning to be introduced on busy commuter routes. However it noted there may be implications for vehicle fleets' insurance policies.

Transportation expert Phil Jeanes of PA Consulting Group says: "The UK's Department for Transport is absolutely right to encourage businesses to adopt travel plans to reduce costs as well as their carbon foot-print. But it doesn't go far enough.

"To achieve the reductions required by the government's own Carbon Reduction Commitment, personal travel also needs to reduce emissions. Today’s technology, together with carbon accounting and other incentives to encourage everyday ride sharing, can provide the UK with a panacea for the prime inefficiency of our road transport system – the lone driver.

"It's an idea that's already being piloted in Europe – in Madrid and the Netherlands – as well as the USA. In PA's experience this will really take off when incentives from local authorities and national transportation systems are combined with what we call 'dynamic' ride-sharing services to create a critical mass of participants so that riders always have options.

"These would also combine real time public transport information and 'carpool' websites, extending the benefits of ride sharing beyond regular commuters to the millions of drivers who make ad-hoc journeys and maximise access to public transport, too. It's all do-able – it just needs the political will."

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