Speakers: Finola O'Driscoll,  project manager for the national Real Time Passenger Information Project, National Transport Authority and Arlene Finn, co-ordinator of the Smarter Travel Workplaces and Smarter Travel Campus, National Transport Authority

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has published detailed guides providing direction to local authorities and private companies on the adoption of best practice for encouraging smarter workplace travel. The details of these guides were explained in detail by a number of speakers during a lecture at Engineers Ireland HQ in Dublin, hosted by the Roads and Transportation Society. The two complementary guidance documents entitled Workplace Travel Plans – A Guide for Implementers and Achieving Effective Workplace Travel Plans – Guidance for Local Authorities offer useful insight into how organisations can promote a change in attitude among staff when travelling to work. Speaking about the guide for workplace implementers, Smarter Travel Workplaces Co-ordinator with the NTA, Arlene Flynn explained how simple the guide is to use.

“The guide is very much aimed those who will be doing the implementing of the workplace travel plans. It’s quite a practical guide, in terms of there being a lot of templates and 'colour by numbers'. It's an off-the-shelf type approach, where you’re not reinventing the wheel. There are text studies you can copy if you're the person charged with doing the travel survey or the cycle audit, for example.” Based on a three-step plan, which involves a review of current travel patterns and policies, the identification and implementation of new travel actions and how these new actions would be monitored are all based on the NTA’s Smarter Travel Workplaces programme. “A simple definition of the programme is that it is a package of measures to encourage people to do anything other than travel by car alone to a site,” added Flynn. As she explained, the first review step is very important in establishing what the base line of the current situation is in order for the company to monitor if targets are being achieved once the programme is in place. 

“It’s an evidence-based study that’s going to look at behaviours, policies and what people are doing...how the actions of the organisation are influencing how people travel, not just how it is that they travel.” Factors such as core working hours and parking facilities influence how people travel to work, she said. An employee travel survey can be used to identify what people are doing now and ,more importantly, what they would be interested in seeing done in the future. As Flynn stressed, getting employees to 'buy in' to what the company is attempting to do is vital to the success of the programme. A site audit of cycle parking and access to public transport also provides a better picture of the company’s established practices and what actions can be implemented.

Examples of Workplace Travel Plans

Flynn offered examples of how companies have introduced innovative schemes following their review. These include secure cycle parking, a cycle loan-scheme for staff and a car-sharing scheme that sees staff enter a weekly raffle to win a parking space close to the entrance of the building. During the lecture, Finola O’Driscoll,  NTA project manager for the national Real Time Passenger Information Project, also provided information on the document aimed at local authorities. Both documents can be downloaded from www.nationaltransport.ie.