How to change the ‘drive to work’ behaviour

Research has suggested the ideal moment to change behaviour is when people’s lives are undergoing some sort of disruption that shakes up their routines.

So have you considered how commuting might change from one mode to another with the relocation of an office?

Basic psychology tells you how people’s behaviour becomes habitual – that is, automatic and unthinking – in some circumstances. A person commuting from the same home to the same workplace, day after day, doesn’t usually wake up each morning and weigh up the pros and cons of the car, the bus, the bicycle and the train, objectively choosing the best mode for that particular day.

They would’ve thought about their options when they first started work, or when they first moved to their home, but pretty soon that decision just became stored in memory.

Each day, rather than consider their choices, people just remember and repeat what they did the day before. That’s why giving people new information about their travel – such as telling them it’s unhealthy or polluting – does so little to change behaviour. People might take this new information on board, but it makes little difference because their journey to work the next day isn’t a conscious decision based upon what they know – it’s just a repeat of what they did yesterday.

Disruptions, like moving offices, break this cycle and means people once again properly weigh up their options. Proof of this process occurred with the Easleigh Borough Council and their use of myPTP.

Eastleigh Borough Council decided to move office as part of a long-term vision to relocate closer to the town centre to better serve residents, becoming more visible and accessible to the community.

The new home for the Council, Eastleigh House, was a refurbished office block renovated to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard for sustainability.

To help with the move Eastleigh Borough Council used myPTP; the first ever planning tool to integrate data for all modes of transport; including walking, cycling, public transport, car-sharing and single occupancy car journeys. Park and Ride is offered as an additional option.

It delivers a detailed and interactive personalised travel plan (PTP) in less than a minute, which can be emailed directly to an individual or viewed online through an interactive page of results.

Using the ‘opt-in’ methodology, the Council produced 160 plans using the 1:1 function. This meant that they could produce plans for a date three weeks in advance when transport infrastructure had recovered from the flooding.

Staff members were given the chance to receive a personalised travel plan to the new office by way of a tick box on the annual travel survey. The information needed to generate a travel plan was already collected by the travel survey making plan generation easy for the myPTP administrator.

The travel survey was sent out to all staff in and had 189 staff members respond to it. Out of the respondents, there was a very high opt-in rate of 163 staff requesting a myPTP.

Once the first batch of plans was delivered, a mass notification was sent out to staff giving them another chance to opt-in to receiving a myPTP. The email included a link to an online form where staff could enter their details. Not wanting to miss out, quite a few members of staff responded to the email notification and provided their details. The myPTP administrator was then able to download the information and upload it to the myPTP system.

Plans were processed and sent to staff, later followed by the myPTP survey. The follow-up survey was automatically sent to members of staff that had received a plan and was able to gather data about their past travel behaviour, if they found their travel plan useful in any way, and how they are travelling now.

The survey email included a link to the staff member’s travel plan, allowing them to look at their options again. The customisable text section explained that the first 10 people to complete the survey would win a £2.50 voucher to use at the restaurant on-site. This, along with the notification sent to staff the day before the survey went out, helped encourage a response rate of 29.4%.


If you’d like to know how myPTP could help your organisation in a similar way, email

Author Jonathan Scutt


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