Airports are small cities, providing thousands of jobs and opportunities for business to thrive. But all those staff have to get to work somehow and airports also provide an excellent place to test new ways of thinking when it comes to commuting.
One airport that recognises the environmental impact of colleague commuting is Heathrow. With 420 organisations working out of Heathrow, with a combined total of 76,000 employees, a substantial amount of transport is needed to service them.
To dissuade workers from travelling to the airport by single occupancy car and to engage with carbon reduction issues more generally, Heathrow has put in place a sustainable travel programme called the Heathrow Commuter.
The programme diversifies and decarbonises staff travel in a range of different ways. For example, Heathrow maintains the only airport cycle hub (heavily discounted repairs and bike equipment) and offers employees use of a ‘cycle to work’ scheme. This, of course, is good not only for the environment, but also for workers’ health.
Heathrow operates the largest single-site car share scheme in the world, with nearly 8,000 participants across 250 companies. Participants get matched with suitable car share colleagues, priority parking spots and, because airports are shift operations, access to 24-hour emergency rides home should they need to stay later than planned.
In addition to staff discounts on public transport further afield, the airport also subsidises the Heathrow Free Travel Zone. This allows colleagues, passengers and members of the local community to take advantage of free travel on 15 bus services, London Underground and Heathrow Express in the area immediately surrounding the airport.
The sustainable travel programme also extends to airline passengers through the Terminal 5 Onward Travel Zone, which exists to provide passengers with the knowledge and tools to choose the quickest, cheapest, most convenient and sustainable onward travel option. Information is displayed by mode on a bank of screens and supported by a leaflet which is picked up by over 2,000 passengers a week.