The Press Business Awards, now in their 22nd year, were conceived as a way to recognise and encourage excellence in small and medium businesses in the York area. There are numerous categories in which an organisation can enter the competition, including one for Sustainable Travel Initiative. The short list for 2012 awards has been published, and York University is one of three final contenders in that category.
This particular award is for the organisation that has put in place the most effective programme for getting associates to leave their cars at home and ‘travel green’. Whether it’s public transport, car pools, bicycles or shank’s mare, the objective is for employees and associates to spend less time behind the wheel of their personal car.
At York University the green travel initiative is made up of different rewards and penalties for the students and employees who travel to and from campus as well as back and forth on campus. The City Car Club provided by the university entitles its 300 car share members to park in dedicated bays at cheaper rates. University staff who eschew their annual parking permit get a £40 voucher good at Get Cycling, or three months free bus travel.
As further encouragement to cyclists, free bike hire and maintenance as well as classes teaching bike handling and safety are on offer. They can also get discounted bicycles and accessories. Staff and students who take the bus or train get discounted fares plus free travel in some parts of the campus.
On the ‘penalty’ side, parking is restricted after 9:15 or 9:30am to discourage rush-hour traffic.
Travel plan coordinator Fiona Macey notes that the initiative is a challenge due to the increase in staff and students at Heslington West. However it has been quite successful in the past few years, with an 8% decrease in the proportion of staff driving to campus and about 1.4% fewer students driving in 2011 than in 2010.