Ongoing public transport uneasiness leads to grey fleet concerns

Ongoing public transport uneasiness leads to grey fleet concerns

This past Monday saw the government carefully ease lockdown restric­tions, as the latest step towards the UK’s slow but steady return to normal. Normal, of course, is a relative term. It’s already becoming apparent that there are many aspects of life that might take a very long time to go back to the way they were - if indeed they are ever the same again. 

Case in point: a new study shows that the world’s population is likely to remain extremely cautious of using public transport and car shares, opening up the possibility of widespread grey fleet headaches for employers and fleet managers. So what exactly is the scale of the issue, and how could weekly car hire and flexi hire help? 

78% of people would choose car over public transport

Over the past year. the France-based Capgemini Research Institute conducted an extensive survey of 10,000 people across 10 major countries - namely China, India, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Norway, the US, and the UK. At the start of the pandemic, researchers asked respondents whether they’d choose their car over public transport, and found that less than half of them (44%) said yes.

After six months of dealing with the mental, physical and economic tolls of coronavirus though, that number had increased to 78% by November 2020, with the same attitude extending to car-pool services like car clubs and ridehailing services. Similarly, when respondents were asked whether their safety was ‘best served’ through their own vehicle, initially only 57% said yes. Later in the year though, that number had ballooned to 87%. 

The Capgemini Research Institute’s survey was conducted on a global scale, but that uneasiness seems to be especially pronounced here in the UK. In October 2020, 89% of respondents were concerned about using the train and 85% felt the same about buses. The latest figures from the Department for Transport appears to show that this uneasiness hasn’t really dissipated - by the end of the latest lockdown, rail use had fallen to about 14% of usual levels. (It’s not ever exceeded 43% of pre-pandemic levels since the pandemic was declared in the first few months of 2020.)

The full implications of this for employers probably won’t be felt for a few months yet at the very least, but one thing we can infer from the statistics is that UK employers and fleet managers are likely going to be faced with further exponential growth of the ‘grey fleet’.­ 

Why is the grey fleet such a serious issue for UK employers?

A quick recap, in case you need it - as we’ve discussed previously, the grey fleet is basically a catch-all term used to refer to the use of an employee’s private vehicle for business travel, such as sales calls or engineering callouts. 

That creates all sorts of admi­nis­trative and logistical headaches, largely because if they’re being driven on company time, they fall under company respon­sibility. That means the pressure is on employers to ensure that the cars are suitable for the job at hand. Employers have to consider the health and safety requ­ire­ments, their Duty of Care, any relevant financial reim­bur­sements, the condition of the car, and the overall suitability of the vehicle for work purposes.­ 

There’s also the issue of emissions - grey fleet emissions are reportable under the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting scheme, causing further paperwork compli­cations for fleet managers.­ 

These are just a few of the basic problems that grey fleets can pose at the best of times. With the steady expansion of the UK’s grey fleet likely to continue into 2021, greater numbers of employers may find themselves dealing with greater demand for on-site parking, a need to upgrade grey fleet inspection procedures, and the imple­men­ta­tions of more rigorous tracking policies to ensure that the company is fulfilling is compliance obligations.­ 

This is exactly where weekly car hire and flexi hire can come in useful. Rather than having to shoehorn a personal vehicle into a commercial role, hiring a car or van enables you to choose a vehicle that’s first and foremost suited to the job at hand, so you know that it can meet all the requirements that may entail.­ 

And of course, hiring a vehicle simplifies paperwork, as all the vehicles we offer here at Intack Self Drive are subject to extensive docum­en­ta­tion, so you can be sure that all MOTs, servicing and maintenance is already taken care of. What’s more, any paperwork that does needs to be completed during the hiring process can be done in the name of the company rather than an individual owner, so that everything is much clearer with regards to costs, legal respon­sibi­lities and obligations towards the vehicle.­ 

These are just a few general core advantages - you may end up enjoying a few more specific to your business! If you’re thinking about car hire or van hire to solve your own grey fleet issues, you’re in exactly the right place. If you need any further details, our friendly members of staff are only too happy to help. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 57811, or pay us a visit at the Canal Wharf in Blackburn. We’re always happy to see you!

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