What role can employers play? Are they fully grasping the issue and taking consequential action to support these changes? What are the risks if nothing is done?
Accentuated by the pandemic and new restrictive regulations, work rhythms and practices are changing, inducing rapid transformations in daily mobility. These transformations impact the organization of work and, ultimately, the employer. With 74% of commuting done by private car, Home-Work Mobility represents a significant portion of the carbon footprint associated with Mobility in France.
In addition, the 2023 annual report of the Court of Auditors reminds us that the administrative organisation of the territory (the multiplicity of layers, of geographical perimeters and the dispersed authority) hinders the deployment of relevant alternative mobility solutions to solo driving.
A study led by Collectif Mobilités in November 2022 revealed that roughly three quarters of respondents in the Île-de-France and Lyon regions believe that employers have a responsibility to provide employees with alternative solutions to individual car.
New regulations implemented… with still relative effectiveness.
Traffic jams are due to longer commuting distances and residential areas moving further away from employment areas since the 1960s. Getting cars out of city centers becomes the main objective to gain space and improve air quality.
Thus, two sets of measures are gradually being implemented by Public Transport Authorities (PTA) to limit GHG emissions and traffic.
The Climate Law requires 43 French cities to implement LEZ (Low Emission Zones) regulation by 2025 by limiting access to city centers to only certain Crit’Air labels.
Meanwhile, the space reserved for cars is being reduced in favour of pedestrian amenities, new cycle paths, bus lanes and carpooling. The even more restrictive LTZs (Limited Traffic Zones) grant traffic authorisations mainly to local residents.
However, the populations directly affected by these restrictions often live on the outskirts of urban areas, often have modest incomes and/or are not always eligible for subsidies given to residents of inner cities. The measures to support them are inconsistent with the reality of employment areas that differ from administrative boundaries. Thereby, the timetable for the LEZs (Low Emission Zone) implementation, as in Lyon, has been postponed.
Employers therefore become an essential relay to support the modal shift of workers
The LOM requires companies with more than 50 employees on the same site to draw up a Mobility action plan. It encourages companies to pool their efforts by working with PTAs.
Some groups of employers are already proposing initiatives in that respect, such as the Orly’Pro’Mobility approach (which plans to build cycle paths, bicycle parking facilities, and a carpooling application for its 10,000 employees) or the EPA Saclay which is developing its own MaaS.
Employers, with the provision of the FMD, can also allocate up to €700 per employee to finance both a Public Transport subscription and the purchase of an electric bicycle.
PTAs can collaborate with companies to communicate on solutions, even incentivize them financially. In Grenoble, companies in the M’Pro community benefit from reduced prices on public transports. They are also developing mobility offers adapted to business areas, such as Fos-sur-Mer where shuttles have been set up to connect the industrial area.
Finally, the creation of Joint Syndicates or Local Public Establishments to which the different levels of PTAs delegate their mobility skills, makes it possible to articulate public action at the right scale, that of daily mobility in a living area. However, these governance structures take a long time to set up and slow to decide on, as they often rely on complex consultation and alignment processes between a wide variety of stakeholders, including political ones.
The new restrictions and changes in behavior are transforming the relationship employees have with Mobility. Local authorities alone will struggle to introduce effective support measures for everyone, which is why the employer becomes an essential link in the chain. The first initiatives are emerging but are still limited. Under pressure from employees, employers must now address the topic at the risk of paying a high price in terms of employer branding and attractiveness.
Mathis Bouvattier, Consultant (Transportation & Mobility), PMP Strategy
Article published in Journal du Net on March 20th, 2023