Do business ‘travel plans’ make commercial sense? In truth, right now, for most firms, they probably don’t.

Making travel plans

Do business ‘travel plans’ make commercial sense? In truth, right now, for most firms, they probably don’t.

That’s not just my view: it’s more or less what the Department for Transport itself says in its new Essential Guide to Travel Planning.

The DfT reckons that travel plans – packages of measures to cut employees’ car use – may cost firms £50 per employee to implement, although actual costs may vary greatly. Right now, an employer could expect ‘soft’ benefits, such as lower congestion, fewer CO2 emissions and less pressure on workplace parking, from a plan but probably little measurable improvement to the bottom line.

The crucial words are ‘right now’. If OPEC’s current brinkmanship continues to push oil prices towards the $100 mark, the knock-on effects on trade could quickly make it expedient for businesses to look for cost savings in places where, as the saying goes, they didn’t realise they even had places.

Things like commuting costs and the cost of providing parking spaces (estimated to cost firms up to £400 each per year) are good examples.

Proponents of travel plans point out that slashing these costs willy nilly, if things get bad, may do companies more harm than good. Hence the value of having a prepared plan.

That makes the DfT guide well worth a look. It’s written with the help of employers in a travel plan forum, which makes it more hard-headed than you might think, with a realistic focus on using private vehicles and new technology more cleverly, rather than maintaining the pretence that our almost non-existent public transport services are anything other than a partial solution.

In short, it tells businesses all they need to know to set about creating a travel plan – or a travel contingency plan for those who take the view that this is a bridge they’ll cross when oil prices or carbon taxes bring them to it.

Since the guide is free and available to anyone with an internet connection, there’s really no reason not to have a look at it. You can download it from