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In Spring 2017, Amazon opened a new fulfilment centre in Tilbury employing 1,500 people. The centre has limited car parking spaces for employees. A recommendation of Thurrock Council’s travel plan was for Amazon to engage with SEAT to encourage more employees to walk and cycle to work. The SEAT team seized this opportunity. According to behaviour change theory a new job is a key moment of change when habits can be broken. SEAT worked with Amazon’s HR department and the recruitment agency Adecco during the recruitment stage. The team were given space at Amazon’s recruitment events.
Ten trained travel advisors from Southend Borough Council and Thurrock Council attended 13 all-day recruitment events between May and August 2017. They provided advice to empower individuals to travel differently. People were offered Personal Travel Plans. These plans provided tailored information about the length and duration of their journey to the centre and the alternative transport options available to them.
In total, the team delivered 721 Personal Travel Plans. Lots of people’s journeys could be made by walking, cycling, taking the bus or a train instead of using a car. The team let people know where they could hire a bike, buy an affordable recycled bike or get information about train and bus times. Individuals were also offered free cycle training to boost their confidence on a bike.
Interventions with local residents who lived less than 2 miles from the centre were very successful. Their initial response when asked about how they planned to travel to the centre was to drive. The Personal Travel Plans helped them to think about walking or cycling as a viable alternative. A number of people went on to receive tailored cycle training through SEAT.
The outcome of our engagement with Amazon was reduced demand for car parking spaces and improved employee health and wellbeing. It also cut road congestion and improved local air quality.
The benefits were recognised by Amazon. Robert Stobinski, General Manager, Amazon Tilbury, said: “We have worked closely with South Essex Active Travel to help individuals joining the new Amazon team at Tilbury to receive tailored transportation information before they join us to ensure they can find the best way for them to travel to work.”