Taken from a recent Secure Futures article “Why employers are noticing high-tech, on-demand public transit”
A post-COVID public transit slump has led to increase in car usage
Kura’s Commuting to 2025 report highlights how the return to the office and fears of catching COVID-19 will likely lead to a spike in people using cars for commuting. Its survey of 2,000 UK workers found 42 percent plan to return to the office full-time or hybrid working (partly at home partly in the office) and half of those plan to commute by petrol or diesel car. 60 percent cite infection control and lack of social distancing on public transport as concerns. The Cambridge Globalism Project found similar results, with 23 percent of UK adults saying they planned to travel more by car post-pandemic.
Before the pandemic, around 17 percent of UK workforce used public transport to commute, but the proportion was much higher in populous cities. Some urban areas have seen public transit use decline as much as 60 percent. Kura believes it addresses many passenger concerns with its shared transport – pre-booked spaces, distanced seating plans and regular vehicle sanitization.
Considering carbon emissions and employee demand
Godfrey Ryan, Kura CEO, thinks the on-demand public transportation market needs to be built up. He says their research shows 63 percent of employees favor employers that offer commuting support. Still, only 30 percent of London businesses are considering doing this – an expectation gap between employees and employers.
But he thinks there’s a changing tide, as employers look to their employee benefit packages to compete for talent and pressure increases for businesses to reach net-zero emissions. With one full coach taking the place of as many as 31 cars, businesses are starting to listen to the numbers.
“We’re getting a lot of interest from UK employers re-focussing on carbon neutrality post-lockdown. Alternatives to single-occupancy car use, such as shared transport, helps meet net-zero targets and this sustainability effort increases their appeal to employees,” he notes.
Around one-fifth of businesses worldwide have made net-zero targets. Millenials and Gen Z especially are increasingly examining employers’ environmental credentials as they decide where to share their talents.
“In London, employers with a command-and-control approach have relied on their employees enduring the inconvenience and cost of the commute without impact on staff satisfaction and retention. This is changing.”
Employee shuttles aren’t new. Silicon Valley tech giants in the US already have dedicated teams managing employee transport demand and encouraging greener commuting. Nick Josefowitz, from San Francisco Bay Area urban advocates, SPUR, argues to avoid pre-pandemic traffic levels returning, “all larger employers (should) take more responsibility for getting their workers to work and back home…in a way that minimizes their impact on climate and air quality.”
Putting the onus on employers to lead in commuter transport
Do employers have the captive audience, capital and motivation to transform commuting comfort, convenience and sustainability? Andy Taylor thinks so – he’s senior director of global strategy at transport industry tech platform Cubic Transportation Systems.
“There’s a lot of potential in companies providing on-demand mobility as a job perk, instead of getting things like a company car,” Taylor observes.
Taylor notes stumbling blocks in making companies more aware and trust in private, on-demand shared transport – perhaps reasons trial take-up has been slow.
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Kura has 10+ years’ experience in corporate transport solutions, sourcing, delivering and managing Home to Work services, staff and contractor shuttles plus VIP transport for high profile transfers, events and tours. More details here.