5 October 2016 - Earlier this year, Local Government Authority, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead launched an innovative AlphaCity Car-Sharing programme for its employees in conjunction with business mobility specialist Alphabet. Within months of replacing its pool car fleet with an AlphaCity advanced CarSharing scheme, the council is on track to achieve an annual saving of £100,000 on its staff travel costs as well as a 90% reduction in the time required for pool car administration.
As innovators and leaders in best practice, Windsor and Maidenhead moved to car sharing in order to provide its employees with flexible, hassle free transport on demand and to cut the council’s pool car costs. Making 13 keyless-entry AlphaCity MINI Coopers available to its employees across multi-site locations has also reduced its grey fleet use and is helping the council deliver its air quality improvement plan.
The council is advised by the Energy Saving Trust, who recommended in 2015 that it evaluate new mobility technologies that could reduce the costs and emissions from business journeys in cars. Mark Green, Fleet Manager at Windsor and Maidenhead, looked at AlphaCity advanced CarSharing, with its fully-remote, keyless operation and low-emission car options, he felt that it could be solution the council was seeking.
Following extensive consultation with Alphabet, the council took delivery of 13 AlphaCity cars in January 2016. It replaced seven small diesel hatchbacks and two four-year-old electric vehicles. The reason for deploying a greater number of AlphaCity vehicles was that the council wanted to reduce grey fleet mileage. It expected – rightly as it turned out – that staff would prefer driving the high-tech MINI Cooper 1.5-litre petrol 5-door cars to using their own vehicles. More than 200 staff have already joined the council’s scheme and each vehicle has an average of 16 AlphaCity users. The online booking system, which shows cars’ availability and restricts access to staff who have made reservations, is also managed by Alphabet along with maintenance and valeting of the cars themselves.
“AlphaCity has cut the council’s administration overhead for car travel by about 90%” said Mr Green. Alphabet operate the keyless technology that enables staff to access the cars using only their scheme membership cards.
“With both the booking system and vehicle on-board technology, pool car users do not have to come into the office to pick up keys,” said Mr Green. “Employees can go straight to the cars, so it’s far more efficient than the system we originally had in place. This scheme is also really good for employees who walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work and back… A car is available, should one be required, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has five Air Quality Zones in its area, where it needs to reduce the level of diesel particulates and NOx emissions. By reducing the need for employees to use their own cars for commuting or work journeys, the AlphaCity scheme is contributing to its clean-up campaign. Air quality was also a key consideration behind the choice of petrol cars for the scheme, due to the absence of particulates.
There are no restrictions on staff using the scheme. Any of the council’s employees can become a member. Those who drive their own cars on business are encouraged to give AlphaCity a try, and the strategy is working. Having achieved its initial target for grey fleet cost-savings with just 13 cars, the council is considering expanding its AlphaCity fleet to 24 vehicles to make still greater inroads into its car travel costs.
Mark Green further commented, “This scheme has offered our employees a practical alternative to a pool car. For us, AlphaCity car sharing is the most cost effective way to help our people travel to meetings and carry out their day-to-day jobs. Alphabet has been with us every step of the way, from our initial conversations about whether AlphaCity is right for us, through to educating our team in how to use the on-board technology.”
Dean Hedger, Head of Public Sector at Alphabet adds, “AlphaCity Car Sharing technology presents an ideal solution for Windsor and Maidenhead both financially and logistically. Vehicles in all of their five locations can be self-booked online, while business trip costs can be automatically allocated to the relevant company department or staff member, reducing the Local Authorities Total Cost of Mobility significantly. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work on this innovative and forward thinking project with Windsor and Maidenhead.”