The FORS will be with you, if it’s not already

Keyvan Rahmatabadi

Construction embraced Transport for London’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme for clean, cycle- safe vehicles. Now it is being rolled out round the country. AECOM's Keyvan Rahmatabadi explains.

According to forecasts from the Greater London Authority, London’s population will reach an all-time high this month. With such growth comes an increase in freight and fleet traffic, which is required to serve the needs of the surging capital.

Influencing improvements in road safety and environmental performance among the city’s growing fleet community has been a priority for a number of years. In 2008 Transport for London (TfL) launched the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), which has helped improve safety and reduce the CO2 emissions caused by the freight and fleet sector. As the newly appointed concessionaire responsible for managing and operating FORS, AECOM’s role will be to grow the accreditation scheme nationally.

"Since it was introduced, FORS has accredited more than 210,000 vehicles – around half of which are from the construction industry." 

The reality is that most operators will not need to be persuaded to work towards FORS accreditation. In fact, with 65 percent of FORS accredited operators now based outside London, it has grown beyond TfL’s remit. A key factor for the scheme’s successful uptake is that it has become client driven, with businesses now using FORS in contracts with their supply chain. This is particularly true in the construction industry, with companies including Mace, Laing O’Rourke and Crossrail requiring fleet operators to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable fleet activities when tendering for work with them. The scheme was further propelled by the establishment of the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) initiative, which was set up to ensure a road safety culture is embedded across the construction industry. Due to CLOCS, more than 20 construction firms now require FORS accreditation as part of their contracts.

To meet bronze accreditation, the first of three levels under the scheme, operators must introduce safety features to their vehicle fleet such as fitting side under-run guards, warning signage and Class VI mirrors. But FORS also recognises that behavioural change is just as important as physical measures. Under the scheme, over 10,000 lorry drivers have undertaken the Safe Urban Driving course, which requires attendees to undergo on-cycle training.

Reducing the impact of fleet operations on the environment is another important objective of FORS, and operators must monitor their fuel use to gain accreditation. The scheme was designed in line with the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy, as well as specific plans relating to issues such as air quality. In order to progress further through the accreditation levels, operators must also provide evidence of reduced emissions caused by their fleet.

Since it was introduced, FORS has accredited more than 210,000 vehicles – around half of which are from the construction industry. However the scheme is actually available to all companies that operate fleets, including coaches, mini-buses and vans. As FORS is rolled out nationwide, it is important to convince these other sectors that accreditation makes sound business sense. Much as it was with the construction industry, changing behaviour so that individuals take personal responsibility for their impact on the environment and road safety will be key to the scheme’s growth.

Keyvan Rahmatabadi is director, transport planning at AECOM