Understanding Staff Behaviours and Business Travel Needs

Aylesbury Vale District Council's on-site hourly rental pool cars
Aylesbury Vale District Council’s on-site hourly rental pool cars

How did Aylesbury Vale District Council save £90,000 and halve their emissions? Ena Lloyd spoke with Alan Asbury to find out.

I recently attended a seminar run by Enterprise Rent a Car on how public services are engaging with the private sector to improve their business travel arrangements. This has resulted in major contributions towards their sustainability targets and big savings.

I caught up with Alan Asbury, Sustainability and Energy Manager from Aylesbury Vale District Council and asked him about the Council’s travel policy. I was particularly interested in their focus on staff behaviour and their critical use of data to get a clear understanding of staff business travel.

I started by asking a little about the Council. The Council covers the northern half of Buckinghamshire and employs around 500 staff of which around 220 drive for business.

They created the policy with Enterprise to bring the council in line with the sharing economy and the latest cost-saving technology. They analysed the council’s usage data and was able to segment its employees’ business trips by cost-efficiency, highlighting where hourly rental and daily rental would be most effective. For example, by restricting daily rental to those with journeys of more than 75 miles or eight hours, it has ensured its low-emission car club vehicles are used more regularly.

Translating the policy into action meant that nine on-site hourly rental pool cars were sourced through Enterprise Car Club, which were provided for employees making short journeys, along with Enterprise Rent-A-Car daily hire cars for longer journeys. These have successfully replaced the grey fleet as a less expensive and more environmentally-friendly option.

The travel policy was changed to focus on safety, which is essential for the council’s duty of care responsibilities. Staff who still use their own vehicles for work first complete a tick box form checking several aspects of vehicle and driver maintenance such as safety, insurance, driving licence, health and fitness and vehicle condition.

As part of the initiative, the ‘grey fleet’ mileage reimbursement rate was cut from up to 0.65 pence per mile to 0.15 to encourage employees to use the Enterprise Car Club vehicles as well as daily rental, given the potential cost savings and the environmental benefits.

After careful monitoring, the scheme now been pared down to eight Enterprise Car Club vehicles. All are all low-emission and include three pure electric Nissan Leaf cars. In the first year of their use, the Council has saved £90,000. It’s also allowed them to re-introduce a 50% bus subsidy on all four locally-operated bus routes. Overall, its transport carbon emissions have been reduced by more than half. The Council also operate electric vehicles including BMW i3s.

Reflecting on their new travel policy, Alan said: “Our new travel policy was based on an in-depth understanding of how our drivers behaved and their needs in terms of mobility. Enterprise helped us analyse where, how often and why staff were travelling, which was vital if we wanted them to do it more efficiently.

“Using a car club has helped us save tens of thousands of pounds, and Enterprise also helped us work with our employees to understand the aims of the programme and demonstrate what we were trying to achieve. It has been highly successful and we’ve now been invited to speak with other public and private sector organisations to show them what we did and how we did it.”

Adrian Bewley, Director of Business Rental UK & Ireland at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, adds: “The council has been able to use a blend of hourly and daily rental, as well as leasing, to create a far more effective and greener approach to employee travel.

“The Council is, quite rightly, being viewed as a leader in public sector business travel. They have achieved silver in the annual Energy Savings Trust Fleet Hero Awards November 2015. Most importantly, the success of the programme is due to the fact it was based on an analysis of driver behaviours and journeys. Data is the most important tool in creating a better travel policy and changing how employees think about driving.”

If you’d like to learn more about the project and how Aylesbury might help you to do something similar, Contact Alan at aasbury@aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk

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