Private companies hold several keys which could help society develop a more sustainable mobility in the country’s central metropolitan zone, in a political context which, up until now, has limited the progress margin in this area. They can take action via the work organization and the management both of the workers’ mobility and accessibility, concludes a study on home-work traveling released Monday by the scientific magazine Brussels Studies, in its issue 125.
According to this document, a voluntarist action on their part will at the same time improve their own competitiveness and, thus favor the economic development of Brussels and of its metropolitan zone.
In its observations, the summary note published by Saint-Louis University researchers Thomas Ermans and Céline Brandeleer, supported by contributions made by colleagues from both the ULB and the VUB, reminds that the ratio of jobs held by commuters in Brussels slightly decreased in the last years.
In 2016, it still reached 48.6%, according to the Brussels Employment Observatory’s 2017 report.
With charts in support, the summary note also shows that housing is “clearly more scattered” in Belgium than are jobs, which are to be found in the urban zones, starting with Brussels.
As a consequence, the capital’s workers’ median work-home distance is 3.5 km. For the “in-coming” workers, it is 30.5 km.
According to the authors, “the dispersion of the places of residence” and the increase of the average work-home distance “will make it very difficult to set up an efficient public transportation offer over the whole territory.”
Another difficulty: the management of transportation and roads maintenance in the metropolitan zone comes under three different levels of authority, which calls for a coordination that proves to be difficult, for example setting up the Metropolitan Community for that purpose.
However, the summary note stresses that companies’ room for maneuver is far from negligible.
The companies can have an influence on the rationalization of the number of trips made by workers through teleworking and rendering flexible work schedules. “For fear of pernicious effects (working conditions’ deterioration, workers’ isolation), it needs, however, to be done on the basis of willingness and with some accompaniment,” they underline.
The researchers remind of the existence of measures that are more constraining than those taken within the framework of the Workplace Travel Plans – compulsory in Brussels for companies with more than a hundred employees –, i.e. the promotion of carpooling and alternatives to car use.
Among these stricter measures, the limitation of the number of parking spots and the reduction of the number of company cars “are not being enforced enough yet by the companies.” It is likely that the new technologies offer new courses of action in that realm, facilitating, for example, carpooling, the sharing of cars or parking management.
In the longer term, a third potential field for action is that of accessibility. It is about the localization of work places and the companies’ recruitment policy.