Ecosurety issued the call after finding that more than 50% of its own business emissions derived from employee journeys to and from its business park on the outskirts of Bristol. The company believes that firms should provide incentives to employees for them to use public transport and allow them to work from home in order to reduce commuter emissions.

“Many companies are based in business parks on the edge of towns, which means most workers have no other option but to travel in and out every day, causing tailbacks, stress and the inevitable fumes that arise from sitting in a stationary car at traffic lights,” Ecosurety’s commercial manager Robbie Staniforth said.

“A lot of firms don’t believe they can change their environmental impact because of this, and instead concentrate on recycling or putting in solar panels, etc. These are all good efforts but the real difference is made by encouraging employees to ditch the car altogether, something the Government is also very keen for commuters to do.”

Analysis from the Carbon Trust has found that the average commuter burns around 500kg of energy annually, while Ecosurety’s own research suggests that using electric vehicles (EVs) emits more CO2 per kilometre than if a commuter travelled via public transport or through a ride sharing initiative.

Ecosurety is exploring the potential of a “no travel week”, issued monthly, to reduce transport emissions. The Bristol-based company has called on companies to back no travel policies with new technologies, such as web-based meetings.

The company has also devised a scheme that aims to utilise a ride sharing platform, by partnering commuters of the organisations on the business park.

Social sharing

While ridesharing works by partnering commuters based on geographical location and time schedule, new research from the University of Waterloo has found that matching commuters based on social aspects could decrease car use by almost 60%.

“Usually carpooling is about just matching people depending on geographical location and time of schedule,” professor of management engineering at the University of Waterloo Bissan Ghaddar said.

“We wanted to include the social aspect into the equation, because it’s always awkward when there is silence in the car, especially if it’s a long commute. We believed that we really needed to look at the social aspect, and our initial data analysis agreed with us.”

As part of a study, Ghaddar worked with consultants IBM and two universities in Italy and the US, analysing Twitter feeds of potential ride sharers to match the personal interests of the commuters.

After examining social circles, Ghaddar matched ride sharers based on the likelihood that they would interact with like-minded people or sought different views, before designating them to ride shares based on geo-location and time preference.

Using real-time data from Rome and San Francisco, researchers simulated the impact of the matchmaking and found that if ride sharers are compatible, they are more likely to stick with the scheme. This generated potential reductions in car use of between 40% to 57%, as a result.

Last month, British car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) sought to capture the potential of ride sharing, through a £19m investment into the Lyft service app. Online platforms such as Lyft and Uber nudge people towards ‘access over ownership’, making more efficient use of existing vehicles.

Matt Mace

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