Car sharing lifts off at Heathrow Airport!

Heathrow Airport is now one of Liftshare’s largest corporate car sharing schemes, with over 2,250 colleagues sharing their journeys on a daily basis.

Heathrow currently employs 76,000 staff,
who work across three shift patterns over a 24-hour period. Around half of these employees drive to work, which generates excess traffic and emissions in the area, as well as the need to set aside valuable land for parking spaces. The Airport has a long-standing policy of encouraging staff to reduce their dependence on cars, offering incentives for the use of public transport, cycles and also the sharing of car journeys among staff.

Heathrow has been running a car share scheme for over 10 years, and in 2007, entered into a partnership with Liftshare. Since then, over 7,700 employees have registered to share their journey; of whom 2,282 are sharing with colleagues on a regular basis.

“Car sharing preserves Heathrow’s reputation, while ensuring growth as a sustainable business,” says Laura Watling, the Regional Engagement Manager for Liftshare who manages the Heathrow scheme: “The success of the scheme is down to Heathrow’s commitment to building strong rapport with colleagues, delivering successful marketing campaigns, offering incentives, changing attitudes and breaking down barriers.”

Car sharing reduces the number of single occupancy vehicles on site, thus lowering carbon emissions, pollution and noise. Liftshare calculates that car sharing at Heathrow is saving 1,988.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions and 6,039,887 car miles a year at current levels.

The initial task was to undertake the migration of data from Heathrow’s first system to Liftshare’s web-based journey matching approach. The previously complicated system was simplified, saving the airport hours of time each month because its staff no longer had to manage journey matching and databases. Over the years Liftshare has tailored its software to meet the airport’s needs as the scheme has grown. By using Liftshare to manage the membership and matching process, the airport’s travel management staff have been able to concentrate on effectively marketing car sharing, engaging with colleagues and encouraging behaviour change.

As car sharing has grown in popularity, Heathrow has set aside specific parking spaces for sharers and use these bays to further promote awareness of the scheme. The airport regularly reviews the allocation of car share bays and currently has assigned 250 spaces to sharers – equating to 750 spaces over the three shifts.

One potential barrier to the take-up of car sharing is an anxiety that sometimes a worker may find themselves unable to get home if they do not have access to their own car (ie, in an emergency situation, or if their driver has had to leave unexpectedly for any reason). To allay these concerns, the Airport set up a guaranteed ride home (GRH) scheme, offering a taxi to anyone car sharing that subsequently had to get home in
 case of an emergency. This was introduced by setting up an account with a local taxi firm, where anyone needing a lift in an emergency can call the firm directly. The phone number and details of how to use the service are promoted on the back of parking permits issued to those car sharing. When booking a taxi, colleagues are required to give their permit number, which is added to the invoice. This means the airport can manage the service and monitor if this is being abused, as well as ensuring the colleague is escorted home safely and without cost to them.

Chris Joyce, Heathrow’s Head of Surface Access, says “In the last five years we have reduced single occupancy car journeys by airport colleagues to 51%; and we are working hard to persuade even more colleagues to choose sustainable commuting to get to and from work. We offer incentives to colleagues which include encouraging the use for public transport, cycling to work as well as running one of the world’s biggest single site car share schemes. Since 2009, our car share scheme has helped Heathrow colleagues drive over 24 million fewer miles, saving nearly 12,500 tonnes of CO2!”

For more information on the Heathrow Liftshare scheme, and other corporate car sharing options and examples, click here to visit the Liftshare Business pages.


Author Lex Barber


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