Experts on sustainable mobility: The best car for a company is a shared car

Why should companies be motivated to make their vehicle fleet more effective and how can they entice the employees to use alternative methods of transportation? These were the questions answered by experts on sustainable mobility – Michael Glotz Richter and Bonnie Fenton – who attended the first of a series of fall workshops held on 25th of September 2013 in Bratislava and organized by Business Leaders Forum and the Pontis Foundation in cooperation with the Global Environmental Fund and United Nations Development Programme project – Sustainable Mobility in Bratislava.

Bratislava has been long struggling with an intolerable number of cars driving through the city, which hinder the traffic and pollute the air. Poor transport situation affects the companies that do business in the capital. It is a common situation for the employers and employees to get stuck in a traffic jam on their way to work or a business meeting. They are exposed to stress and time loss. Large corporate car fleets require high costs for operation and maintenance of vehicles, but also for their control and management. This is also associated with ever-increasing fuel prices and parking fees. Another important factor related to the increasing share of passenger transport is the lack of physical activity of employees, leading to higher illness rate and work interruption.

What can companies do to reduce the cost for operation of company cars and at the same time have healthy and satisfied employees? Michael Glotz-Richter, chief project manager for sustainable mobility in Bremen stated, that employees use only a part of company’s vehicles during the day. Analysis performed by EcoLibro company has shown, that a company which owns 41 vehicles uses in reality only 35 of them. Six vehicles require operation costs without real use. “Would you purchase a cow just to get a glass of milk? Why buy a car, when you just want a ride?”, he asked.

According to Glotz-Richter, the ideal solution for companies is to replace company cars with a system of sharing cars, so called Car-Sharing. In addition to cost for cars, the company will dispose of associated cost for parking. [1] Employers should also offer company bicycles and motivate the employees with rewards. For example if employees who commute to work don’t drive alone in single cars, but organize themselves and fill one car and share a ride (so called car pooling), or use public transport. According to Glotz-Richter, employees are motivated to more intensive use of public transport if the employer offers discounts on prepaid public transport tickets, called job tickets.

 “Reward the employees, who use alternative means of transportation, for the benefits they bring to your company. Avoid punishment of “undesirable” transportation habits, rather focus on rewarding the desirable ones. Preference of sustainable forms of mobility cannot be reached in a single day.” said consultant on sustainable mobility Bonnie Fenton to company representatives.

The possibility of trainings is a welcome bonus for employees (e.g. how to drive more economically, which led to a 15% increase in efficiency of driving even by experienced drivers). Another motivation is the allocation of more vacation days. Some U.S. companies reward their employees for not using cars for commuting and therefore saving on parking space.

Bonnie Fenton introduced the basic principles for building of cycling infrastructure in companies. The basic principle is to provide premises for safekeeping of bicycles during working hours. The bicycle stands should be placed in a visible sheltered space, easily accessible, well maintained and monitored. To support this kind of commuting to work, it is necessary to provide showers, changing rooms, lockers or a workroom, where employees can fix their bicycles. All these additional facilities should be located near the bicycle stands. This investment will be returned in the form of healthier and more efficient workers.

 


[1] The company Infeon and Quimoda from Dresden in Germany decreased the percentage of individual automobile transport among employees from 68% to 55% in 9 years. The annual savings are 325€/employee for travel costs and saving of 800 parking spaces.