Counties Manukau Heath has worked to enable greater travel choices, with travel planning that focuses on efficient parking management, infrastructure improvements, and promotions. They won the 2015 Commute Step-it-Up award for their active travel challenge.
Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) is committed to sustainability and creating a healthy workforce. Mandated to have a travel plan as part of its resource consent, the organisation has worked to link transport to their wider sustainability programme.
“As an organisation, we try to be sustainable and promote fitness and well being with programmes such as health checks and campaigns to get people moving," says Sustainability Officer, Debbie Wilson. "Travel planning fits in with our wider goals.”
Parking and infrastructure improvements
With the population of the area the health board serves growing at 1-2% each year, more and more people need to access its hospitals and clinics. CM Health recognised they needed to create an efficient parking management system and promote travel choices to staff to help free up parking space for visitors.
The health board now has 8 dedicated carpooling bays for staff, which are monitored and enforced using permits. Other infrastructure improvements include the installation of bike parking for up to 40 bikes, and shower and locker facilities to support staff who walk or cycle to work.
Promoting travel choices
Debbie took over managing CM Health's travel plan alongside her other sustainability work. She has focused on building on the successes of their existing travel plan and has delivered a number of promotions for staff including carpooling, public transport, and cycling.
She says a large number of shift workers can present challenges in promoting travel choices but public transport is proving increasingly popular with employees.
AT’s travel planners came to Middlemore Hospital to provide information on public transport and help staff plan routes to work. Eligible staff have also benefited from a public transport trial.
Together, CM Health and AT organised cycling workshops, training, and bike trials for a month. Debbie says this allowed staff to gain more confidence on a bike and try cycling as a transport option.
"There are now at least half a dozen more regular cycle commuters," she says. "As a result of more people wanting to cycle, we negotiated staff rates to purchase bikes at a local bike supplier."
Employees are also finding matches on the Let’s Carpool website and have the opportunity register in their dedicated employer section to carpool with colleagues.
Active travel challenge
Another promotion was the active travel challenge, with staff signing up to increase their physical activity and record their active trips over a 2-week period.
The first 60 staff to sign up were given pedometers with a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day.
Feedback from the participants showed high levels of commitment, and sustained behaviour change. After the 2-week period ended, 86% of staff who had signed up for the challenge had increased their active travel with 96% stating that the challenge had motivated them to continue being more active.
Debbie says CM Health are looking to continue developing their travel plan and have a number of initiatives coming up, including a section on their intranet providing information and promoting events.
They are developing new wayfinding signage around Middlemore Hospital and are looking to have a travel information board at the hospital's entrance. They also have plans to include sustainable travel information in induction packs for new employees.
The health board has worked with Auckland Transport (and its predecessor) since 2008. Debbie says being in AT's Travelwise Choices Programme has helped them concentrate on their goals and get guidance from AT's travel planners.
"I would recommend the programme to other organisations but they need identify their needs and goals beforehand," she says.
Debbie also suggests businesses get management support and try to leverage off, and link to, existing objectives and goals, like sustainability, well being, or efficiencies. She says a good 2-way communication process is also important in getting staff involved and understanding what they want.
About Counties Manukau Health
CM Health provides health and disability services to an estimated 512,000 people who reside in the local authorities of Auckland, Waikato, and Hauraki District. It is the largest of NZ’s District Health Boards, by population.
CM Health provides jobs for more than 7,000 people across the region.