THOUSANDS of commuters have been urged to ditch their cars and switch to public transport to save money and the planet.
The call came at the launch of this year’s Big Green Commuter Challenge which runs for a week in May.
The idea is for workers to leave their cars at home, or share one, and use trains, buses, cycles or their feet for their daily commute.
They could decide to do this for one or two days during the week of May 16-22 or go for broke and attempt the challenge for the whole week.
The 2011 event is the ninth year the gauntlet has been thrown down by Portsmouth City Council.
And Amanda Morris, the authority’s travel plan officer and brains behind the scheme, said the idea was catching on.
At the launch at Gunwharf, where car parking staff use Segway electric scooters to get about, she said: ‘When we started, very few companies signed up, but it has grown each year and last year’s event saved more miles than ever before.
‘We had 1,078 people from 32 organisations taking part who saved more than 78,500 car miles and nearly 31,000kg of emissions.’
Havant Borough Council took part for the first time in 2010 and this year Gosport has also joined. Ms Morris added: ‘South West Trains is also joining in and offering discounts and Stagecoach and First are doing something similar on the buses.’
Jane McLaren, the operations manager for Key Recruitment in Portsmouth, the firm which won last year’s challenge in the small organisation category, said: ‘Every member of staff took part and many have carried on.
‘I live in Southbourne [near Emsworth] and came in on the train. I found that not only did it save on petrol and wear and tear, but I saved a fortune on parking. I’ve carried on with it a lot since then and so have several others.’
Tina Webb, a director of the Havant firm Tri-Synergy helped the company win the Havant challenge. ‘I cycled in for three days from Hayling Island and it wasn’t a one-week wonder because I still do it.’
Ms Morris will brief businesses who want to get involved on March 2. To attend, call (023) 9284 1332.