A raft of measures to encourage greener transport among staff has helped cut the REC's carbon footprint, and increase healthy means of travel. The combined initiatives of the REC's sustainable mobility plan have helped cut single-occupancy car commuting by 8 percent and boosted shared mobility and other sustainable travel significantly.
The REC's plan contributes to the its 2016-2020 Strategy, which among other things, will see the organisation lead through 'innovation,' 'mitigation of the gravest environmental challenges' and 'combatting climate change through....fostering sustainable and healthy lifestyles.'
In the summer of 2014, while the strategy was still being drafted, the Smart Cities and Mobility team got a head start on contributing to this aim. Helped along by its experience with the EC's CIVITAS Initiative (Cleaner and Better Transport in Cities) and also KIC InnoEnergy, it explored the notion of company travel planning, which is already encouraged by the Hungarian legal decision 1330 of 2011 where reference is made to company travel planning and its potential to reduce PM10 and improve energy efficiency by about 5-10%.
Following a baseline survey to map current travel habits, REC defined a raft of measures to accommodate staff interests within its plan. Those adopted included: i) Bicycle group & facilities; ii) Smart' monitoring tool; iii) a Ride-sharing platform; and iv) continuing the REC shuttle as HÉV/Volánbusz 'feeder.'
With relatively little investment, REC gave its existing shower facilities a new lease of life and emptied a former storage room that was converted into a bike workshop called the 'Bike Hub.' It also established a Facebook group called 'REC Riders' to share news about the bike route to work from Budapest and launched these services during European Mobility Week alongside a 'Dr. Bike' workshop and local bike ride. Site signage is set to follow.
The real innovation, however, has been the smart travel monitoring tool which surveys daily and graphically reports upon the mobility patterns of the staff. See separate feature.
Although its early days, as a result, between 2014 and 2015 REC witnessed 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, thus making a marginal contribution to reducing congestion in the host town, Szentendre, as well as Budapest (where half our employees begin their journey). Improvement to air quality and the health of employees were further benefits. Not surprisingly, all new staff are now routinely introduced to the REC's mobility services.
The travel plan is naturally not without its challenges. REC itself is 20km north of Budapest, situated in a 'bedroom community' of 20,000. Its 80 staff often travel on mission, enjoy flexible working hours & critically, enjoy free parking courtesy of the local authority.
Nevertheless, adversity breeds innovation and there are plenty more ideas waiting to be put into practice. These include adding public transport information to the REC Mobility Services webpage and providing better means to evaluate personal mobility behaviour. An internal policy on REC staff's sustainable mobility (incorporating telecommuting and greater attention to more active modes of travel) looks set to follow, while we expect to continue experience sharing at both REC and third party events. Already we've talked to the European Chamber of Businesses, addressed the Central European University's business and environmental students and hosted workshops at Morgan Stanley and Hungary's Institute for Transport Sciences.
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