GREEN TRAVEL PLANS –are they working?

GREEN TRAVEL PLANS –are they working?

David Knight, Colin Buchanan & Partners.

14 October 2003

The speaker pointed out that the Government had dropped the use of ‘Green’ in the title of their scheme now. Travel Plans are a strategy to reduce car use and reliance on the car, and to promote sustainable modes of transport. They have now arrived on the management agenda of many major companies and are required before planning applications will be agreed for any new substantial development.

Plans are needed at workplaces, but also now-a-days for schools and for leisure centres, which are often a bigger problem than commuters. It is forecast that traffic volume will increase substantially in future, various estimates (generally too low) have been given; the latest – 50% by 2026. The CBI quote a cost of £15bn/yr for traffic congestion. 2000 people are killed a year in road accidents. 70% of the carbon monoxide (not dioxide) in urban areas is produced by road transport.

There are several myths, which need reputing:


Travel Plans are anti-car – they do not propose to ban cars, merely to reduce their use.


Travel Plans do not work – so far they have achieved on average 18% reduction in single car occupancy, comparable to the effect on traffic of school holidays.


People won’t leave their cars – surveys show 50% of drivers would use public transport if it was reliable and frequent.


Travel Plans are not commercially attractive – a Plan is cheaper than providing car parking space.

The keys to a successful Plan are: partnerships between companies, transport providers and local authorities; a plan designed specifically for the site; involvement of senior company management; appointment of a travel coordinator; and a change in culture by car users.

Mr Knight then considered a case study for a Leisure Centre – the Eden Project on Cornwall. There are two aspects to be considered: the staff movements and the visitors. A target of 30% travelling by sustainable transport, which includes car sharing by staff, but means non-car modes for visitors, in 5 years time was set.

The staff of 600 work several different shift patterns but already 20% of them share cars and they have a LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) station where staff can buy cheaper, clean fuel once they have converted their engines. A map of where staff live, by postcode, has been provided to bus companies so that they can revise routes or introduce bus services.

The number of visitors exceeded all expectations: in each of the first two years 2 million arrived when 750,000 were expected. This caused considerable problems locally, particularly on 20 days a year, such as around Easter and summer Bank Holidays – 83% of the visitors come by car. Many visitors stay in Newquay but the rail connection is limited in capacity; many others come from other Cornish areas. The local bus company, Truronian, is very enthusiastic and provides many incentives to use their services, including special buses connecting to the rail stations of Par and St Austell

Special measures are being considered, such as running coaches from camp sites on certain days; a cycle network is being introduced with cycle hire and servicing; and a display at the Centre of Travel Plan proposals is installed.

Funding of a Travel Plan is sometimes difficult unless a clear saving, for example, on car parking space, can be shown. Developers consider the cost an extra charge. But, in general, Travel Plans are making a difference. The latest Personalised Travel Plan service in which individual interviews sort out problems reveal how often people do not know the alternatives available. In Yorkshire, without changing the bus service, an extra 20% of passengers was achieved by just explaining the existing timetable.

But there is still a lot of opposition by people who love their cars.


You appear to ignore rail travel. For Eden Project there are proposals to improve the use of the rail line from Newquay, which I did not mention. In general, when the Strategic Rail Authority have sorted out Network Rail it will be easier to emphasise the rail alternatives.

To what extent are public service operators required to assist a Travel Plan? They are encouraged, but many bus operators still consider their business involves school children and the elderly and are not interested in change.

When Eden was a quarry how was the clay transported and to where? Is there an existing rail line from the site? That’s a good point to which I don’t know the answer.

Why not give a discount for use of the bus from the rail station? A suggestion was made that a discount should be given on the 20 difficult days to anyone using public transport but this was not accepted commercially.

Is there any information on the total impact of Travel Plans, for example in North Bristol, on the transport system? Do they merely make space for other people to use their cars? No information has yet been collected. With Personalised Plans and increased Plans at destinations the impact is likely to grow.

Has Western Riverside been subject to a Travel Plan investigation? As the development progresses Plans will be included. A residential site development in Guildford has had a Web site (, which tells people what their options are. Car sharing is arranged and a £200 voucher for public transport fares issued to each house.

How are coordinators trained? There is none at present but salaries are good.

You mentioned the Royal United Hospital transport problems. Could an interest group, such as the elderly, be represented at the discussions?

A Travel Plan has been proposed and some surveys carried out. The reduction in parking imposed by the Council is wrong and needs cancelling.

The University travel plan is working. [This was disputed]. The reduction in on-site parking was introduced before any counts and surveys had been made.

Donald Lovell