What will your summer commute look like?

According to a poll by the BBC, almost all of the 50 of the UK’s biggest employers said they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time. Most of the firms questioned said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week, with just a few firms saying they were keeping the idea of hybrid working under review. Currently, government advice is that everyone who can work from home must do so, and if you cannot work from home, you should plan your journey to avoid crowds. However, that may change in June when the government hopes to end all social distancing restrictions, and again in September, when the furlough scheme is due to end, and more people return to work.

Focus on how people will travel to work

And is opinion is polarised between CEOs, many of whom naturally value the importance of physical, in-person interaction, plus the critical role that offices have to play in keeping company culture strong over time, and many employees, who are reluctant to return to a daily commuting ritual they regard as expensive, stressful and unsafe (especially when using public transport over the last year). For many, the argument is not just about “when” people will start returning to the office, but “how” they will travel. Figures from the DfT show that vehicle use is already back to pre-pandemic levels, both on weekdays and weekends, in contrast to rail and London tube usage which is only at 40% of normal levels. From June could this get worse?

An article in the Telegraph claimed rents outside London have already hit a six-year high thanks to a flood of tenants leaving the capital for towns and smaller cities. Surely this will only lead to more car traffic into the capital during the peak. Kura recently spoke to 250 schools for its report on “Investing in technology for school transport” and found that due to increased car usage on the school run recently, a third of respondents believe the level of traffic around their school each day is a safety risk. Transport expert Thomas Ableman is also concerned: “In the year Britain hosts COP26, in Glasgow in November, it risks being a national embarrassment that we’ve achieved the highest car mode share in history”.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are not a panacea

Everyone is naturally focused on switching people out of petrol/diesel vehicles into electric equivalents. The risk with electric cars is that people perceive that they are ‘clean and green’ and travel more as result, with the added impact of less returning to public/shared transport following the pandemic. The rise in private electric cars could lead to a higher demand for energy in manufacturing and operations, and electricity is not fully decarbonised yet, so not capable of accommodating this demand, along with other rising demands for energy. Also EVs will not reduce congestion in cities and requires investment in a highway and charging infrastructure. With significant funding needed to support an electrified future, many feel we are at risk of continuing to plan for the car rather than for people.

Employers need to get more involved

So despite the popularity of ultra low emission vehicles, behavioural change is required, as this trend will not alleviate road congestion at peak times. For a long time, Kura has been campaigning for city centre employers to take more interest and responsibility in how their people commute between home and the office in order to reduce car usage. With accurate employee journey data from Kura, an employer can easily identify where alternative modes of transport such as ride sharing or a staff shuttle could replace single occupancy motor vehicles in the morning and evening peaks. And the benefits could extend way beyond better staff satisfaction and wellbeing – every Kura shuttle shows CO2 emissions reduction of 75% on a 20-mile journey with each coach replacing 31 cars at average UK occupancy*, so helping deliver corporate environmental targets and freeing up car parking spaces.

For an informal discussion on how Kura could help your employees travel in a safer, greener, smarter way, email [email protected]

*Based on average UK car occupancy of 1.5/car. Emissions from manufacturers (various)

Who is Kura?

Combining leading edge proprietary technology with the best local vehicle operators nationwide, Kura enables you to maximise safety, efficiency and well-being on shared transport journeys whilst driving down emissions.

Kura has been servicing the needs of the corporate market for 10 years, and specialises in employee shuttles, home to work services and VIP transport for major events, transfers and tours.