Bath Uni gets gold for its drive to reduce car usage

September 23, 2011

The University of Bath was named Employer of the Year and won a gold medal for the third year running in recognition of its efforts to reduce its dependence on car travel at today’s 10th annual West of England Travel Plan Awards. 

Bath Spa University gained silver in the awards, which recognise the efforts made by organisations and companies to bring in a travel plans that cut their carbon footprint, promote sustainable travel and discourage single occupancy car journeys for staff and visitors to their workplace. 

The universities were among eight organisations that received travel plan awards while a further seven won new sustainable travel awards.

The University of Bath, which has 2,560 staff and around 10,000 students on its self-contained campus outside the city, introduced its first travel plan 15 years ago.

Single-occupancy vehicle use has since reduced from 77% to 50% including eight percentage points over the past year – no mean feat as typically it gets much harder to reduce car use after the first easier wins.

From March, it has funded a PhD psychology studentship to study the factors which influence people’s travel behaviour and to improve and conduct the staff travel surveys.

The university treats its travel plan as a living, working document and is seeking continuous improvement and development by working with its staff, students and local community.

Bath Spa University has worked hard to try to overcome substantial difficulties with the isolated location of its main Newton Park site, which is several miles out of Bath city centre, and to improve access by public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Its second, subsidiary site at Sion Hill is closer to the city but accessed via steep hills.

The university, with 5,400 students and 610 staff, has taken every opportunity to promote its scheme, including negotiating discounts with several local cycle shops. It has also made good progress recording, quantifying and analysing business travel prior to identifying further action over the next year. Improvements to car parks are planned including introducing charges next year. Further improvements are awaiting planning permission.

The benefits of travel plans are fully recognised and endorsed by the CBI and Business West and are an important aspect of the Smarter Choices programme which is run by the West of England’s four councils – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. 

Smarter Choices encompass a number of other initiatives, including Jam Busting June, Car Share and Travel Well, Live Well which encourage sustainable travel to reduce congestion, noise and air pollution, parking and safety issues.

Other gold winners in the awards were Bristol-based DAS Legal Expenses Insurance and engineering consultancy Peter Brett Associates, which has an office in Bristol, while silver awards also went to the ceremony hosts Bristol Airport along with The Highway Agency’s Bristol office.

A sustainable travel award went to South Gloucestershire Council, Badminton Road Offices while the University of the West of England (UWE) was recognised for its Ulink bus service as this year's most sustainable travel plan measure. 

UWE was also highly commended for its unique car share barrier. Iintroduced in 2008 at the access point for 90 student car parking spaces, it has buttons either side of the barrier which need to be pressed simultaneously in order for the barrier to open.


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