Travel planning at Mahitahi Trust Mahitahi Trust

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Mahitahi Trust's travel planning has focused on managing their fleet vehicle effectively and helping staff find alternative ways to travel to work.

Mahitahi Trust first identified a number of transport initiatives after a review focusing on value and efficiencies and the development of a well-being plan for employees.

Mahitahi's travel plan leveraged off their wider wellness policy and came at a time when the organisation was shifting from staff having a company vehicle they could take home to having fleet vehicles they could use at work.

Ngahuia Hunter, Quality, Health and Safety Manager at Mahitahi says this meant they needed to help staff find alternative ways to travel to work and to help ease the financial burden of no longer having a company vehicle.

Working with AT

Mahi Tahi staff at bus stop

After contacting AT's Travel Demand team, Mahitahi and the Commute (Travelwise Choices) team delivered their first travel expo in August 2013, giving staff information on their personal commutes and assistance with the changes in the organisation's car policy.

"To make better use of our fleet vehicles, we used Outlook and encouraged staff to schedule appointments to limit travel time, for example, booking appointments in the same area and consecutively to prevent the need to travel back to the office between appointments. We also encourage carpooling where staff have appointments close by."

Staff were also offered cycle training followed by the opportunity to trial a bike for 3 months to see if cycling to work was for them. The organisation also offered trial bikes for staff to use to get to meetings.

"As a result, we’ve installed bike parking and in the future plan to install shower and locker facilities," says Ngahuia. "Even though we lease the building and will be putting these in at our own expense, we believe it demonstrates a commitment to our staff."

Encouraging staff to go on regular morning walks has been another initiative.

Image: Mahitahi staff checking out a local bus stop.

Ngahuia says although there was some initial resistance to the changes, the trials and travel expos have demonstrated that there are other travel options available at an affordable cost.

"Through consistency of messages we got more buy-in," she says.

Staff encouraging clients

Once Mahitahi staff gained experience of walking, cycling and using public transport, they began empowering their clients to plan their own journeys.

Some clients had the opportunity to go on excursions around Auckland which gave them the experience of traveling on the train, bus, and ferry.

Employees seeing value in the sustainable transport message also helped win the support of the organisation's CEO, and it has become part of its wider wellness programme.

“Our management has really supported our wellness plan," says Ngahuia. "Our CEO even bought a treadmill, vibra machine, and exercycle for our staff and clients!"

Ngahuia explains that congestion is an area the company continues to focus on. "The next opportunity is to promote carpooling in a fun and interactive way, which we envisage will further decrease the congestion around our work site.”

Over winter months, they are planning other exercise activities such as indoor netball and weekend cycling.

Recommendations for other businesses

Ngahuia says she was initially unsure about approaching AT, as she was new to travel planning. But once she met with one of the Travelwise Choices travel planners and saw what was possible, she found they could help the company reach its goals and more.

"Without AT, we wouldn’t have had the support and resources to achieve as much as we have. We wouldn’t have been able to promote the messages to this extent; the programme has been an eye-opener."

Ngahuia recommends that other businesses identify travel-planning opportunities and link these to organisational goals to get senior management buy-in. It is also important to ensure there are resources or a dedicated person available, so you can be consistent with the programme and messages.

About Mahitahi Trust

Mahitahi is a charitable trust working to support those with barriers to mental wellness and promote wider wellbeing. The company is based in central Manukau and has 75 employees. There are 30 visitors to their Ronwood Avenue site each day and employees also travel to visit communities.

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