What is a travel plan?
A Travel Plan is a long-term travel management strategy which uses a package of practical measures designed to reduce single car occupancy for journeys to and from work and for business travel, and is also aimed to tackle localised congestion.
Travel Plans are put together by employers or developers with the support of the Go Smarter Travel Plan team and the District Planning Authority, and can be adapted to reflect the particular needs of your organisation and the specific circumstances of your site.
The development of a Travel Plan for your organisation will help to promote and deliver sustainable alternatives to single car occupancy journeys. For the travel plan to be successful it should include a mix of incentives and disincentives, for example, it could include car sharing, promoting the use of public transport, encouraging walking and cycling, managing on-site car parking spaces or electric vehicle charging, and supporting alternative working practices which reduce the need to travel.
Your travel plan
A Travel Plan usually addresses the different modes of travel available to a particular site according to the nature of the development. These can include: travelling to and from the workplace, business travel, visitors, deliveries and fleet vehicles. It is important to identify which elements of travel are appropriate to your own organisation's activities and prioritise them to establish the main ones for inclusion in your Travel Plan.
A successful Travel Plan will address environmental and health issues, and will provide increased travel choices for staff and visitors. It will influence travel behaviour and achieve a shift towards increased use of sustainable modes of transport.
The types of initiative you incorporate into your Travel Plan will depend on these factors:
- the size of your organisation
- the location of your organisation
- the nature of your business
- your reasons for developing a Travel Plan
- staff attitudes towards different travel measures
- available resources
Benefits of a Travel Plan
A Travel Plan offers a number of benefits to employers, staff and the local community, such as:
- healthier, less stressed workforce
- reduced costs and demands on car parking
- reduced on-site congestion and pollution
- improved access for visitors and deliveries
- aiding recruitment, retention and morale of staff through increased travel options
- corporate identity and social responsibility
- cost savings on travel
- healthier lifestyle
- more flexible working patterns
- time savings
- better air quality
- reduced congestion
- improved quality of life
- less noise pollution
- reduced CO2 emissions
Why have I been asked to submit a travel plan?
Development can contribute to both the prosperity and the general amenity of an area. However, as pressures on both the transport system and on the environment increase, it becomes more important to ensure development is as sustainable as possible. This is true not only for land-use patterns, but also each individual development for which planning consent is granted.
This means, that even where there are no other planning or environmental issues, the transport impact of even the smallest development will need to be assessed at the Planning Application stage. This may either be through submission of a Transport Statement, or if the transport impact is likely to be significant, then through a full Transport Assessment.
The sustainability will be determined through the nature of a development and also how the travel needs it will generate are to be managed. Therefore, for many developments, a Travel Plan or Sustainable Travel Statement will also be required.
Understanding current travel patterns
Before you can decide on which measures to include in your Travel Plan, various surveys should be organised in order to gain an understanding of the existing transport conditions relevant to your site and its surrounding environment, as well as the amount of travel which will be generated by your organisation.
To do this you will need to undertake:
A Brief Site Assessment
This provides an overview of the existing transport links serving your site and the facilities available, for example, cycle parking and car parking etc. It is important that you collect as much information as possible at this stage and if appropriate, this can be carried out before the staff survey so that the questions you are asking to your staff are relevant.
Staff Travel Survey
In order to ascertain current employee travel habits, the initial Staff Travel Survey should be carried out within the first three months of occupation. After carrying out the survey, you can assess the potential for reducing single car occupancy.
The survey is sent out through your organisation's network for staff to complete themselves. Each organisation has different needs and there may be some instances where staff may need a paper copy or access to a computer or tablet.
You should aim to carry out your travel surveys at the same time each year and try to avoid Mondays, Fridays, bank and school holidays.
Travel Plan Coordinator
The appointment of a Travel Plan Coordinator is crucial to your account, as there must be a point of contact to negotiate the successful implementation of the Travel Plan.
Responsibilities of the Travel Plan Coordinator:
- presenting a business case to secure a budget for Travel Plan development
- overseeing the development and implementation of the Travel Plan on a day to day basis
- obtaining and maintaining commitment and support from senior managers, staff, union representatives etc.
- designing and implementing effective marketing and awareness-raising campaigns to promote the Travel Plan
- coordination of Steering Groups, Working Groups etc
- undertaking annual Staff Travel Surveys, promoting the survey to staff to ensure a good level of participation
- liaising with different departments (e.g. human resources, estates, facilities)
- liaising with external organisations (e.g. local authorities)
- coordinating the monitoring programme for the Travel Plan, including target setting and making necessary changes if the targets are not being met
It is important to have the support of your Senior Management, and to encourage them to lead by example.
Focus Groups are also a great way to include staff and encourage them to take part and have their say in the Travel Plan process. Involving and listening to them will help inspire them to take ownership.
Sustainable travel statement
A Sustainable Travel Statement is suitable for all developments which do not fall within the scope for a Travel Plan and do not constitute minor development. It provides the tool to promote sustainable travel in a more streamlined way than a Travel Plan by delivering direct measures rather than targets. Its purpose is to allow the developer to understand and explain exactly how people will travel to and from the site, including the difficulties associated and how they plan to tackle them. A Sustainable Travel Statement has the same objectives as a Travel Plan, but simplifies the process where appropriate.
A Sustainable Travel Statement will often build on the contents of a Transport Statement/Transport Assessment. It will typically include:
- site context
- details of existing travel patterns to and from the site*
- staff and visitor travel survey results*
- the incentive to travel more sustainably
- any factors impeding sustainable travel to and from the site
- list of Sustainable Travel Measures proposed
* as applicable
In line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), attention must also be given to the following:
- accommodating the efficient delivery of goods and supplies
- giving priority to pedestrian and cycle movements, and having access to high quality public transport facilities
- creating safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians, and where appropriate, establishing home zones
- incorporating facilities for charging plug-in and other ultra-low emission vehicles
- considering the needs of people with disabilities by all modes of transport
When a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment is provided, some of the above may have already been addressed. In such cases, it is not necessary to provide a separate document for the Sustainable Travel Statement. The aim remains to ensure the developer is always seeking to improve sustainable travel.
The Sustainable Travel Statement will provide the site information necessary to deliver sustainable travel measures for a particular site which are relevant and meaningful. These measures will be on-site facilities and incentivisation schemes to enable and encourage sustainable travel choices to staff and visitors. Measures will typically comprise 'baseline' interventions that can easily be evidenced and verified by the planning and highway authority.