A bespoke transport monitoring tool developed in-house has helped to reduce the REC's carbon footprint and make staff commuting habits more sustainable. Since the tool launched in 2014, staff commutes by single-occupancy cars fell 8 percent, REC's ride-sharing community grew by 3.2 percent and car use overall has fallen 5 percent.
The tool was introduced as part of a larger workplace mobility plan (read a separate feature on that here) that aimed to increase sustainable travel through several measures, including making cycling more convenient and raising awareness about public transport and car-pooling options.
The smart travel monitoring tool was the plan's cornerstone, working both as a monitoring tool and a means of sharing information and encouragement with the staff. It surveys daily habits and graphically reports upon the mobility patterns of the staff. Each morning colleagues are invited to answer two multiple-choice questions: "How did you get to work today" and "How did you get home on the previous working day?" By putting their responses through various algorithms, depending on their modes of transport and their starting point, REC derives their daily environmental, health and financial performance, which is then reported in terms of Benzene/HUF saved; CO2 emitted/saved; and calories burnt. Colleagues can even tweet or share this data via Facebook.
An especially unique feature of our monitoring tool has been our ride-sharing platform. It's obvious that if we all left the car at home once per week, we could reduce city congestion between 20 and 25 percent. To this end, REC facilitates ridesharing by matching riders with drivers. After doing away with a physical whiteboard, REC created a virtual platform that included those daily mobility survey respondents who drove their car to work and are willing to share their space. The result was an online booking system which includes map-linked destinations.
Last month I presented the toolkit at a ride-sharing event hosted by the CHUMS project in the UK and considered REC's platform more than held its ground against more sophisticated and long-established services such as liftshare.co.uk. Why? Because it accumulates the daily ride-share data over time and together with its mapping of all other travel modes, allows mobility managers to gauge whether their measures have resulted in positive or negative modal shifts.
Between 2014 and 2015 for instance, here at REC we saw an 8 percent fall in single occupancy vehicle use, a 3.2 percent growth in the size of REC's ride-sharing community and a 5 percent fall in car-use. That means REC made a marginal contribution to reducing congestion in its host town, Szentendre, as well as in Budapest (where half our employees begin their journey). Improvement to air quality and the health of employees were other benefits. Not surprisingly, all new staff are now routinely introduced to the REC's mobility services.
REC's initiative very much remains a work in progress but it is a unique tool in the region, not only in terms of organisational development but in terms of contributing to the EC 'Transport' White Paper's target of encouraging cleaner commuting and better mobility planning. Our search for funding to advance our innovation meanwhile continues!
REC's 'Mobility Manager' is available at the contact details below to further share experience and discuss transferability.
Jerome Simpson, Senior Expert, Smart Cities and Mobility
Regional Environmental Center (REC) for CEE; Ady Endre ut 9-11; 2000 Szentendre; Hungary