Dorking firms rally to rid roads of cars

Employers in Dorking have established a green travel plan that could act as a blueprint for employers in other regions.

Under the plan, commuters are being encouraged out of their cars with the offer of a replacement bus service, available to employees who work for several large employers based near Dorking.

The area has traffic volumes well above the national average. The Council established that 6,700 vehicles travel into the town each day with an average car occupancy rate of just 1.3 people, and the town has traffic problems at lunchtime.

Mel Mehmet, travel management executive for Surrey County Council, coordinates the bus service and now aims to introduce car pooling.

"If we can get it working like this in Dorking which is a tiny little town, just think if you could do it in some areas with big, big numbers," he said.

Members of the Dorking Decongestion Forum include Friends Provident, UnumProvident, Waitrose, Kuoni Travel, Sabre Insurance and the Mole Valley District Council. The partnership represents around 4,500 staff.

Companies assist with project funding, and some subsidised bus fares. Mehmet said 120 people currently use the service, which is also used to ferry visitors to the nearby railway station.

Forum members Pfizer and Legal & General had seen cost savings by combining resources. "Because they’re sitting around the same table now, they’ve got rid of one of [their] buses and saved £42,000 a year."

Mehmet expected the idea to catch on in other parts of Surrey. "Everyone loves it, we’re launching new services all the time, we’re just about to launch in Guildford [next]."