Company car drivers waste a total of 11 days per year stuck
in traffic. And it's getting worse, according to a new
report from the RAC Foundation looking into business travel and
the alternatives to car use. So businesses are actively
looking at the alternatives - different ways to get around, and
ways to reduce the need to travel.
But it's not easy to change. 82% of small and medium sized
enterprises (SMEs) say the car is central to their business
operations. Smaller businesses, according to the report, have
different travel requirements from larger corporates, as they tend
to rely on a greater proportion of face-to-face meetings with
However, the government and local authority agenda of pushing
public transport doesn't wash, with 70% of SMEs considering that
public transport is 'not fit for purpose'. Reliability and
journey time are the key problems. Buses are seen as being
particularly unfit for business travel. Trains are used much
more, but many journeys are not possible by rail.
21% of SMEs said they had taken active steps to use public
transport instead of cars. This is more likely to be the case
where more than 50% of staff travel for business.
Technology initiatives at the fore
When the report looks at actual initiatives of businesses to
reduce travel, use of collaborative technologies for remote and
distributed work emerge as being of high importance to companies:
Initiative adopted by businesses to reduce car travel:
And businesses see technology as having far more
potential to reduce business travel by car than public transport
or other 'sustainable travel' initiatives:
Initiative potential to reduce business travel
As the report concludes on this issue,
"Technology options have been adopted more readily than
automotive solutions and were thought to have a greater impact
on reducing travel by the private car".
What should be done?
The report has a number of recommendations for individuals,
businesses, public transport operators and the government.
Most of these are familiar elements of the sustainable travel
Where the report adds particular value is in its emphasis on
business travel - and its necessity for businesses - which is often
left out of company travel plans where the focus tends to be
entirely on the commute. Also often left out of the equation
are smaller businesses. It is easier to deal with the larger
employers. But government at local and national level and
transport operators ought to have a renewed focus on how they can
help SMEs to reduce the use of private cars.
Recommendations for increased use of collaborative technologies
and flexible working are confined to the section on what businesses
should do. I'm sure there are a hatful of possible
recommendations for government to support and encourage this too -
especially as the research shows that businesses find this approach