Can travel vouchers encourage more sustainable travel?

A. Root


The growth of transportation poses difficult dilemmas for social and environmental policy. There is broad agreement that a variety of ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ measures are needed. This article asks whether tax-free travel vouchers for employees could be important as incentives or ‘carrots’ to encourage the use of public transport. The basic idea of it is like Luncheon Vouchers for public transport. Employers issue the vouchers and claim the tax back from the Government. Potentially, travel vouchers could generate a ‘win–win’ situation in which transport operators’ rising revenues justified new services and these, in turn, encouraged more passengers. The research described here uses survey data and the National Travel Survey to examine acceptability and potential fiscal impact of a rural tax-free travel voucher scheme throughout the UK. These results show that there is sufficient acceptance of the idea of travel vouchers in rural areas to justify the further development of this policy.