University of Bristol - Higher Education Environmental Performance

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University of Bristol - Higher Education Environmental Performance

    HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol


An integrated approach pays dividends at the University

    of Bristol

    Adam van Winsum and Peter James

    University of Bradford

    Table of Contents

    Executive Summary................................................................................................................1 1. Background ........................................................................................................................2 2. The Initiative ......................................................................................................................2 3. The Process ........................................................................................................................4 4. The Benefits .......................................................................................................................5 5. Key Learning Points ...........................................................................................................6 Appendix One ........................................................................................................................7

HEEPI is a project funded under the Good Management Practice initiative of the Higher Education

    Funding Council. It involves a partnership of four universities - Bradford (the project leaders),

    Gloucestershire, Leeds Metropolitan and UMIST - together with the Yorkshire Universities

    Association and the Joint Procurement Policy and Strategy Group. It also has close links with the

    Association of University Directors of Estates. The project began in September 2001 and will run

    until August 2003. It aims to improve the environmental performance of higher education institutions

    by a) stimulating environmental benchmarking, for example by collecting energy and water data for

    individual buildings and b) by developing the capacity of staff with environment-related responsibilities to achieve positive environmental change within their institutions (through workshops,

    best practice case studies and other means). See or contact the project officer Adam van Winsum at for more information

HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 1

    Executive Summary

    In 1998 the University of Bristol was experiencing increased difficulty in providing car parking for staff, and losing ?20,0000 a year in doing so. A working party was established to recommend a new policy, which was introduced in 1999. This raised charges to the point that revenue has more than doubled, but avoided many potential problems by making charging fairer. One aspect of this was the creation of three needs-based categories of parking (with some, such as the disabled, paying nothing) and the introduction of daily rather than annual fees so that individuals could pay only for what they used. The surplus which is now created by the scheme, is recycled into improvements for non-car users, such as a web-based car sharing scheme, washing and changing facilities for cyclists and walkers, a joint initiative to provide a bus shuttle service and interest free loans for purchase of public transport season tickets.

    The new policy was preceded by a baseline survey of how people travelled to work in 1998. A subsequent survey in 2001 found that 32% of staff claimed that they „usually‟ drove to work alone, compared to 44% in 1998. This reduction infers that 600 less cars are travelling to the university on a daily basis. 24% of staff claimed that an increase in the cost of parking influenced their decisions on how to travel to work.

    These achievements are very significant given that personal transport choice is a very emotive issue. In order to keep staff informed, they were consulted frequently on changes and proposals within the transport plan. Indeed communication was a key factor to the successes at Bristol with staff being educated in the viable transport alternatives to the private car.

HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 2

    1. Background

The higher education sector creates substantial travel, both of staff and students commuting to

    their place of study, and of staff for work purposes. Much of this travel is by car, which has

    adverse impacts through emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides and consumption of

    fuel. Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 13 requires F/HE institutions to promote and integrate

    sustainable transport choices. In addition to this and other regulatory requirements, congestion

    charges, parking taxes and other measures are making transport an issue of growing


This case examines the transport initiatives taken at the University of Bristol since 1998.

    These have been particularly aimed at reducing the number of staff commuting to work by car,

    and in particular those who drive alone. They have been introduced as a response to:

    The realisation that the university was losing money on car parking according to

    Jont Cole, Assistant Director (Facilities), “whilst some spaces were being let

    commercially for ?1,400 per year many staff were paying only ?29 per year. Overall,

    the cost of maintaining and operating the car parks was in the region of ?90,000 per

    year, which was ?20,000 greater than the income.”

    Worsening parking problems - Jont Cole notes that “there were simply too many cars

    chasing too few spaces, with roughly 3,500 staff in central Bristol vying for 1,100 car 1parking spaces. This situation was exacerbated with the continuing erosion of

    parking spaces due to building developments on existing car parks.”

2. The Initiative

A working party was set up in 1998. Its first activity was a survey, carried out in October

    1998, to establish a baseline, which would allow the subsequent targeting of initiatives and

    funding to reduce transport problems. A return rate of 50% was achieved (see Appendix One

    for a summary of the results).

The survey revealed that 44% of staff „usually‟ drove to work alone and that 63% did so

    „usually, sometimes or occasionally‟. This was despite the fact that 69% of staff lived within

    four miles of the university precinct.

During the summer of 1999 a draft transport plan was devised and circulated for comment. A

    final version was approved by the University Council in July 1999. Its main objectives were


    Create a new method of allocating parking spaces, which was fair, unsubsidised and

    did not encourage people to drive to work

    Encourage staff to use alternatives to the private car.

The University also agreed to ring fence any additional revenues arising from a new car

    parking scheme until at least 2008, and use it only for transport improvements.

     1 These figures exclude students who are not permitted to park at the university.

    HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 3 The key measures taken since then have been:

    Introduction of a new car parking permit scheme

    Improvements for cyclists and walkers

    Improvements to public transport

    Other measures.

New car parking permit allocation

A key objective of the plan was to raise more income from car parking, initially to eliminate

    losses and after that to provide revenue for other transport improvements. Lengthy

    consultation with university staff also resulted in two other objectives. One was to make the

    scheme fairer by relating charges to user‟s financial circumstances and their actual use of car

    parking facilities. The latter aim also coincided with the university‟s desire to change the

    situation where many reserved spaces were not used on individual days because the permit

    holders were not in the university, or had travelled by other means.

The new scheme was introduced in January 2001 and had three categories of annual permit:

Category „A‟ - guaranteed car parking in a specific space for staff that are disabled, formally

    car share or use their vehicle for university business. Approximately a third of all parking

    spaces are reserved for Category „A‟ permit holders.

Category „B‟ – these permits are issued to staff that do not qualify for category A but have

    special individual needs and have scored sufficient points in an application questionnaire.

    The scoring criteria include having caring responsibilities, living a long way from the

    University or being poorly served by public transport. The permits guarantee a parking place

    but not any specific spot. Just under a third of all spaces are for Category „B‟ permit holders,

    with a limited oversell to take account of the fact that many permit holders do not need to use

    their space every day.

Category „C‟ – these permits are issued to staffs who do not meet the category B criteria.

    There is a greater overselling of places but even so sufficient spaces are available even at the

    busiest time of year. However, the space may be a 10-minute walk from the main University


The charges for Category „A‟ permit holders have been set at zero for departmentally owned

    vehicles and disabled staff, and ?525 for vehicles owned by staff but extensively used on

    University business. For Category „B‟ and „C‟ the charges for 2002-3 are ?10 for an annual

    permit plus 0.006% of gross contractual salary per working day (?0.53p - ?3.90), with an

    upper and lower limit. Part-time staff benefit from a 50% tariff for half a day's parking.

A team of car parking supervisors police the car parks. They have the power to fine and clamp

    cars that do not display a valid permit and/or coupon for that car park. It should be noted that

    several warnings are given before fines/clamping occurs.

HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 4

    The scheme now generates about ?225,000 of revenue. The budget for 2002/03 is to spend approximately ?78,000 on non-car initiatives. The rest of the income generated is spent on managing the car parks including administrating permits and parking coupons, salaries and maintenance.

Improvements for cyclists and walkers

    The university has also introduced several measures to encourage staff to cycle or walk to work. This includes secure cycle stores, washing and changing facilities, other environmental facilities to improve comfort (e.g. bus shelters) and physical safety measures such as improved lighting of walkways around the campus. In total, ?130,000 is to be invested over a 5-year period.

    Interest free loans of up to ?1,500 are available for staff to purchase motorcycles and bicycles for the purpose of travel to work. A cycle mileage rate of 10 pence per mile is also available for staff travelling short distances on University business. Fewer loans have been issued than expected although several hundred staff have taken advantage of them. To date over ?55,000 has been spent on upgrading and constructing new facilities with more money being allocated for the coming years.

Improvements to public transport

    The University in partnership with the United Bristol Healthcare Trust operate a free bus shuttle service for staff and visitors. Funded through ring-fenced money from the parking scheme, the Hospital & University Bus Shuttle (HUBS) links Temple Meads, the bus station, the city centre and the main University precinct.

    The service operates from 0630 to 1800, Mondays to Fridays at a frequency of 12-24 minutes. It is hoped that in the future the service will be expanded to increase the frequency of service. Interest free loans to purchase bus and train season tickets are available up to the value of ?1,500 and most bus season tickets will benefit from a 10% discount. Staff repay loans for travel passes through a series of interest free instalments deducted directly from their salaries.

Other Measures to encourage alternatives to the private car

The university has developed a web-based car-sharing scheme, Carshare@bristol. This

    facility assists staff trying to find car-sharing partners and also individuals who need to drop-off/pick-up children from school. All they need to do is complete a simple form, detailing their travel preferences. Suitable car sharers are then found, based not only on people‟s home location (determined by postcode) but also their likely route to work. The fact that formal car-share drivers are eligible for a category „A‟ parking permit provides an additional incentive for people to enter the scheme.

    The software has been so successful that the university now has a commercial version which has been sold to a number of universities and commercial clients.

3. The Process

The Travel to Work Implementation Group (TWIG) was created to oversee the

    implementation of the transport plan. This contains a cross section of the university

HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 5

    community, with each member of the group representing a modal travel choice i.e. car driver

    and a cyclist.

The formation of TWIG was so successful that it continues to operate, meeting quarterly

    and is responsible for:

     Changes to the car parking scheme through voting rights

     Controlling revenue generated from the scheme

     Advising on where monies for improvements should be spent

    Reviewing applications for - and hearing appeals against decisions made for parking


The role of TWIG was/is essential in disseminating and gauging the views of staff at the

    University. As an example, Jont Cole notes, “it took considerable effort to finalise the details

    of the new car parking scheme. The implementation group met for an afternoon once a month

    for over 12 months, to finalise the allocation procedures and then oversee the implementation

    of the new categories of permit.”

One feature of TWIG‟s work has been detailed consultation, even if this sometimes means

    that things move relatively slowly. During 1999, 15 open meeting were held, which were

    attended by approximately 1,000 staff members. Staff also receive a bi-annual travel

    newsletter and printed information is included within their payslips.

4. The Benefits

With the new car-parking scheme having been in place for over 2 years, and several other

    non-car initiatives being developed, the implementation group conducted another survey of

    staff in November 2001. The main purpose was to monitor the successes of improvements,

    especially the new parking scheme. Overall 2,249 surveys returned were useable, with a

    return rate of 44% of staff.

    The Appendix has the full results of the two surveys the table below shows the percentage modal shift of staff which occurred for each of the various types of travel. Almost a quarter

    (24%) of staff claimed that an increase in cost of parking influenced their decisions on how to

    travel to work.

    Mode of Transport Usually (%) Sometimes (%) Occasionally (%) Total (%) Bus 0 +2 0 +2 Train +1 +1 0 +2 Hospital & University Bus +2 +2 +2 +6 Car-driver -12 +2 +1 -9 Car Passenger -2 -2 -1 -5 Car sharer (formal) +6 +1 - +7 Park „n‟ ride (bus or rail) +0.5 0 -0.5 0 Motorbike/Moped/Scooter 0 0 0 0 Pedal Cycle +1 +1 +1 +3 Walk (all/most of the way) +4 +1 0 +5

HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 6

    These changes and particularly the 12% reduction in staff that usually drive their car to work - could mean that on any one day 600 less staff are driving to work. Another noticeably

    achievement was a 21% increase in staff walking to work, even thought the number doing this

    was already quite high. Whether this can be attributed to disincentives to use the car, or

    further incentives to walk, i.e. improved physical environment, is difficult to monitor.

5. Key Learning Points

Bristol‟s success demonstrates that a careful mix of carrots and sticks can change people‟s

    travel behaviour, as long as it is perceived to be fair. Overall all staff were appreciative to the

    need for improvements to the old parking permit scheme and transport choices.

A key factor in achieving this success has been changing the attitudes of staff as Jont Cole

    observes, “the scheme has been a success because we managed people‟s expectations and

    began a culture change, by making people see that they do have an alternative to using their


Regular consultation, and listening and adapting to what comes back from it, has been crucial

    to achieving the scheme‟s positive results

Staff need to be given time to adjust to using other modes of transport i.e. lifestyle changes.

    The introduction of both increased charges for parking and other alternatives to the car has

    given University staff time and increased options. Staff have been dissuaded to use their car,

    not banned from using it.

Further Information

Mr Jont Cole

    Assistant Director (Facilities)

    University of Bristol

    5 Berkeley Square

    Clifton, Bristol

    BS8 1HJ

    (t) 0117 954 6256


HEEPI Case Study 4 Reducing Staff Commuting by Car - University of Bristol 7

    Appendix One

Results from the 1998 & 2001 Staff Travel Surveys


    Mode of Transport Usually (%) Sometimes (%) Occasionally (%) Total (%) Bus 12 3 9 24 Train 2 0 2 4 Hospital & University Bus - - - - Car-driver 44 9 10 63 Car Passenger 6 5 5 16 Car sharer (formal) - - - - Park „n‟ ride 0.5 0 0.5 1 Motorbike/Moped/Scooter 2 0 1 3 Pedal Cycle 7 3 3 13 Walk (all/most of the way) 19 4 6 29 Staff living with 1 mile of university precinct 20%

    Staff living with 3 miles of university precinct 49%


    Mode of Transport Usually (%) Sometimes (%) Occasionally (%) Total (%) Bus 12 5 8 25 Hospital & University Bus 2 2 2 6 Car-driver 32 11 11 54 Car Passenger 4 3 4 10 Car sharer (formal) 6 1 0 7 Park „n‟ ride (bus or rail) 1 0 0 1 Motorbike/Moped/Scooter 2 0 1 3 Pedal Cycle 8 4 4 16 Walk (all/most of the way) 23 5 6 34

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