We know that sustainable travel is important to you. In Spring, we asked you to discuss the 13 priority areas which make up our Sustainability Sub-Strategy and you had lots of suggestions for ways we could improve travel and transport on our three campuses. We have been taking on board your feedback and wanted to update you with information on what’s available and what we have planned.

Boosting Sustainable Travel Options

You said:

You wanted us to encourage and incentivise the use of more sustainable transport options, and you were full of ideas. These ranged from calls for car-share schemes and providing electric shuttle buses at key locations, to promoting existing options like cycling and public transport.

We offer:

The First Bus Unicard, covering Colchester, is available at a significant discount. This is available to staff as well as students. Find out more about bus travel in Colchester.

For Southend, the discounted Arriva bus pass provides student and staff with a year of discounted travel to our campus and within the Southend area. Find out more about bus travel in Southend.

The University participates in Cyclescheme, allowing you to save up to 40% on the price of a new bike and equipment through salary sacrifice. Cyclescheme does not limit what you can choose, so you can save money on a bike, on accessories, or on both; you can even use it to buy an e-bike. Find out how you can save money with Cyclescheme.

We also have great cycling facilities at our Colchester Campus, including cycle lockers , cycle racks, and two cycle fixing stations with bike pumps. Dr Bike also offers free cycle safety checks (Bicycle M-Check) and adjustments for staff and students at our Colchester campus. The team also provides servicing, repairs and affordable second-hand bikes.

Electric vehicles
The University has a fleet of ten electric vehicles that support day to day operations in Soft FM, Maintenance, post deliveries and Essex Food. For electric vehicle drivers commuting to campus, we have six charging bays in the North Towers car park, and six in the multi-deck car park.

We’re working on:

Minimising the carbon and environmental impact of the university’s travel and transport activities including commuting, business, and research travel and encouraging use of sustainable forms of transport where travel is necessary. We’re continuing to raise awareness of the variety of support on offer and exploring opportunities to implement the other suggestions you made. We are also looking into a more permanent structure for Dr Bike as inclement weather sometimes prevents them from attending, and we will continue to look into other options for sustainable travel.

Flexible and remote working options

You said:

You wanted more flexible and remote working options, prioritising virtual meetings and conferences over traditional face-to-face options.

We offer:

Flexible working is an intrinsic part of how we work here at Essex, and we encourage virtual meetings and conferences to reduce the need to travel. Take a look at our flexible working policies to find out more.

We're working on:

Four Professional Services teams are currently involved in the Smarter Working At Essex (SWAE) project. More details about this project will be available soon.

The Bigger Picture

You said:

You highlighted that this is a challenge for our whole community. You discussed using regionally based staff for the delivery of outside events to reduce the transport costs and impacts of third-party providers. You also wanted us to reduce our own levels of business travel and explore ways we can reduce regular travel amongst our international community of staff and students.

We offer:

Bookings made through our travel providers, Diversity and Key, will indicate the carbon impact of the routes and modes of transport chosen. We encourage rail travel wherever possible, and train travel discounts are available for staff.

We're working on:

We are discussing further developments with our travel providers, and the Climate and Ecological Emergency Advisory Group (CEEAG) will discuss some of the more challenging topics. We remain a proudly international University, so will explore these implications further.

Our commitment for ongoing change

Our community’s daily commute, business travel, and the journeys of our international students all contribute to our scope 3 emissions and environmental impact. We will continue to encourage video meetings to cut unnecessary journeys and, where travel cannot be avoided, we will champion sustainable modes of transport to continue our drive towards net zero emissions.

We are on a long journey of improvement and development. There are many challenges ahead, but also a lot of exciting opportunities. To learn more about our ambitions and progress, visit our sustainability webpages, and look out for future blogs with more updates about your feedback to the consultation.