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We urge The Open University to reconsider the decision to discontinue the OU-Railway shuttle bus. The OU has an expressed commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, outlined in the Estate Strategic Plan (2006-2016), the Travel Plan (2006 Revision), the Environmental Policy (2006) and in its participation in the Higher Education Carbon Management Programme (HECMP) (2005), which was pursued "in order to reinforce [the University's] commitment to reducing carbon emissions, in particular energy...and commuting and other transport emissions" (Travel Plan, 2006, p. 1).

Our university has local expertise in its transport economists and management scholars to help solve the problem of how to finance the shuttle. For this reason, we Professor Mackintosh's suggestions that a business plan for the shuttle be developed that incorporates the following:
* use of minibuses (rather than a coaches) - either OU vehicles or via an arrangement with a local taxi company
* more frequent journeys, clustered in the morning (8.45 and 10.30) and afternoon/evening (4.30 and 6pm) - based on a transport economics principle that this will grow numbers of passengers over time.
* a university policy that reimburses the cost of the return bus journey, rather than the taxi fare, during the times that the shuttle is running.

Further, the University should consider:
* taxing individuals who drive to work, in order to subsidise people who arrive by more sustainable means (bike, bus, moped, foot, car share). This will also help meet the estate target to reduce single occupancy of cars (Travel Plan, 2006, p. 2).
* keeping the single fare at 1 to benefit students and those on lower incomes.
* promoting the shuttle more widely to those based in regional offices.

In addressing this challenge, the University has an ideal opportunity to develop its sustainability initiatives further, and in so doing meet its HECMP obligations and Travel Plan objective to 'enhance the perception of the environmental performance of the University' (2006, p. 4).

We also encourage the University to make the plans and business justifications publicly available, consistent with the OU's guiding principles of transparency and openness.

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Pauline GillBy:
City LifeIn:
Petition target:
The Administration of The Open University, UK

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