Employers have the opportunity to influence employees’ travel choices on commutes and business trips. By offering various services and solutions for daily travel, employees can be encouraged or guided to use sustainable modes of travel.
New and innovative ways of developing and promoting smart commuting have been identified by means of R&D funding for workplace mobility management. “Using sustainable modes of transport for work commutes is key when the aim is to make the transport system more sustainable and to reduce transport emissions,” explains Sustainable Mobility Specialist Maija Rekola from the Finnish Transport Agency.
In 2017, R&D projects in workplace mobility management were funded by the Finnish Transport Agency, the Fit for Life programme, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi). Sitra got involved in funding because it was just launching the ‘Sustainable everyday life’ project, which helps participants to develop and test sustainable solutions for consumers’ everyday lives, including mobility. “We wanted to emphasise practical experiments and collection of experiences from new solutions and services, while gaining insights into what kinds of challenges and barriers their scaling involves,” explains Leading Specialist Lari Rajantie from Sitra.
For the Fit for Life programme, the R&D concept offered new openings for workplace mobility management. “In the future, workplaces will play an increasingly central role when considering a comprehensive mobility system, because work commutes form a key part of our transport. The models tested as part of the projects raised opportunities for workplaces to promote smart mobility and increase the effectiveness of its operating methods,” says Tanja Onatsu, Project Coordinator for the Fit for Life programme.
Promoting sustainable transport is one of Trafi’s key functions, which is supported by the R&D concept. “Work commutes form a key part of everyday mobility, and it is important to identify new responsible solutions for this purpose, so as to ensure that the entire transport system operates on a more sustainable basis. These R&D projects will hopefully help workplaces identify new means to encourage employees to travel in more sustainable ways,” explains Chief Adviser Helena Waltari from Trafi.
Innovations for planning, implementation and monitoring
R&D funding was granted to the following seven projects. The project entitled ‘The benefits of mobility plans in euros’ demonstrated that high-quality planning of commuting saves money and increases staff wellbeing. At their best, smart mobility measures taken at a workplace will pay themselves back as early as within the first year.
The free Smartly Commuting Workplace tool, in turn, was developed to support planning and monitoring of smart commuting. The tool guarantees that the planning of smart mobility will not fail due to a lack of resources or competence. Promoting smart travel modes for commutes and business trips becomes easier and systematic. The tool also makes it possible to assess and report on the implementation of a smart mobility plan, as well as the costs and effects of promotion measures.
Cities play a key role in terms of encouraging local employers towards smart commuting. The Smart Mobility operating model was developed to encourage and help local enterprises embed smart commuting as a permanent part of corporate culture. The tool is a response to the wish expressed by employers to get help for promoting smart mobility choices.
The Vedia Ride ride-sharing app was developed to enhance the efficiency of the use of leased vehicles in organisations. The service aims to reduce the number of solo car journeys and improve vehicle utilisation and occupancy rates.
The marketplace for employers, in turn, helps employers plan and implement smart commuting measures. The marketplace offers comprehensive advice on smart mobility, while also providing employers with a channel to offer electric and folding bicycles for their employees to try out in order to increase daily functional exercise, for example. The selection also includes car-sharing services, company bicycles, parking planning and bicycle parking solutions. Furthermore, the marketplace provides help for launching a mobility plan.
The project entitled ‘Piloting of smart electric bicycles and creation of operating practices’ aimed to facilitate everyday travel chains by introducing electric bicycles for use on journeys between train stations and workplaces. Users were able to book bicycles conveniently using a smart-phone app. Cyclists were also provided with various smart devices to facilitate use and travel, such as Bluetooth bicycle locks and smart helmets.
Replicable operating models for promoting smart commuting
The objective of the funding application procedure was achieved, as the projects resulted in innovations for commuting. “What is especially great in these implemented projects is the fact that they created knowledge, new operating models and services, all of which can be put to extensive use in different parts of Finland in the future,” Maija Rekola rejoices. Furthermore, the procedure identified parties that were interested in innovating, developing and experimenting with new kinds of means to increase the popularity of sustainable modes of travel on various work commutes.
“The projects also uncovered a lot of information about the needs of companies and employees and about why the development of sustainable commuting facilitates commutes,” Rekola explains. Elsewhere in the world, measures to promote smart mobility have achieved good results: reductions of about 2–38% in passenger car use.
In Finland, work-related travel accounts for about one fifth of all journeys, according to a National Travel Survey recently published by the Finnish Transport Agency. While the number of commutes has declined in recent years, the lengths of the journeys made have been increasing. The proportion of private car use is high on these trips, accounting for 68% of work commutes and 75% of business trips. “The National Energy and Climate Strategy outlines measures to halve emissions from transport by 2030. Its objectives include increasing the number of journeys made on foot or by bicycle by 30% by 2030. The achievement of these objectives can be influenced by commuting choices to a considerable extent,” says Rekola.
Read more: Uudet innovaatiot fiksuun työmatkaliikkumiseen (in Finnish)
Motiva is coordinating the R&D for workplace mobility management.