Three UK transport and retail companies — First Group, Halfords and Countrywide Car and Van Rental — have joined forces with business consulting services provider Green CO2 Plc to launch what they say is a comprehensive and tax-efficient green travel initiative.
The scheme is the first in the country to offer an integrated package of low-emission cars, bicycles and a bespoke bus service. Green CO2, which conceived of the initiative, will arrange and administer it on behalf of private and public sector organisations,
Building on the Government’s initiative to allow tax relief on sustainable modes of transport, the scheme is also unique in that it is targeted primarily at back-office workers, who have traditionally not been the beneficiaries of company perks.
Through the tax relief and reduction in national insurance contributions, employees have the potential of saving up to 35 per cent on the lease of a car and up to 50 per cent off travel by bus or the purchase of a bicycle. Employees can also gain from the additional benefit of the car scrappage scheme that has been recently introduced.
The programme also saves employers’ National Insurance Contributions on the sacrificed element of the employee salary, which neutralises the costs of setup and administration. Above all, it’s designed to help organisations demonstrate their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Similar schemes have been proven to have a positive impact on staff motivation and retention often associated with employee benefits packages.
Six of the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars of 2008 are offered through the salary sacrifice scheme together with a choice of more than 1,000 bikes made available through Halfords’ Cycle2Work scheme. As a public transport alternative, First Group can even go as far as offering organisations bespoke bus timetables, routes and ticket information.
“This is a win, win, win situation,” said David Collett, CEO of Green CO2. “Businesses, employees and the environment all stand to gain. Green travel may not be a new initiative but never before has it be offered on such a broad basis. It effectively provides employers with a CSR programme at no cost and provides perks for the ‘unperked’ employee. It also gives employees a real choice to make a difference to the environment.”
“With traffic set to increase by 26 per cent by 2010, it’s not surprising that more and more commuters are looking for alternatives to driving,” said Chris Large, UK bus commercial sales director for First Bus, Britain’s largest bus operator running more than one in five of all local bus services. “Employees who travel by bus escape the stresses of being behind the wheel themselves, have the peace of mind that they’re doing their bit to help the environment while also saving themselves up to 56 per cent on the cost of bus tickets.”
Large added, “Under the scheme we can even arrange for a bus service to effectively be ‘chartered’ for employees in particular circumstances, for example if an organisation has moved to a new remote location not served by public transport.”
Neil Monks, managing director of Countrywide Asset Management, added, “Green travel schemes are fast becoming the norm for large corporates and public sector organisations across the country. The global car market is changing with a combination of consumer pressure alongside Government leadership leading to an increasing choice of environmentally-sound cars. The Government’s car scrappage scheme further contributes to this with older vehicles being replaced with newer, more fuel-efficient models. It’s a no-brainer for employer and employee alike.”
You might like to check out what is happening in San Francisco, a city with the goal of having the greenest transit fleet in the United States.
SF MUNI hybrid buses are part of the SFMTA Zero Emissions 2020 plan, and the city of San Francisco has announced its intention to have the third-largest hybrid bus fleet in the country. Other US cities that have major transit agencies are NYC, Boston, Washington DC and Seattle, and they all have hybrid buses. There’s more about SF MUNI hybrids here:
Also, in San Francisco, the City and County has teamed with Cisco in a public-private partnership to provide the Connected Bus as a part of the Cisco Connected Urban Development (CUD) program:
and there was a pilot scheme of the Connected Bus (fitted with Cisco router and other kit to help increase efficiencies of many kinds) in San Francisco last year (2008). Here’s the Pilot Results document:
are there any small cities or towns in the US that use some form of Green Bus or Green iniative bus srevice for the public.If so where and how is it working ?
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