Transport minister Norman Baker has told his civil servants to make more use of video conferencing in an attempt to drive down travel costs.
The MP said on publicsectortravel.org: “We currently think of there being four dimensions of transport: road, rail, air and water. I want ‘communication’ to be seen as the fifth dimension. Communicating in smarter ways takes away the need to travel in the first place.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) recently published some key statistics on use of video conferencing across all of their sectors. The DfT’s Central team used their ten systems 164 times over a rolling twelve month period.
Workshops have been carried out internally at the DfT to ensure staff know how to best utilise the technology and Mr Baker promised to use his influence across the rest of Whitehall. “I want to lead by example, so first off I am working to get the department’s house in order. I’ve written to all policy officials to encourage them to use video conferencing more.”
The news follows reports in the BBC this week that rail fares have gone up on average by 5.8% in 2011, with the cost of some season tickets increasing by up to 13%. Train companies were also accused by the BBC for “topping up their profits” with a hike in parking fees.