Major employers throughout Scotland, including local authorities, health boards and the private sector, will be challenged to provide staff and visitors with real alternatives to using the car.

Scotland's new regional transport partnerships (RTPs) have been awarded £1 million of Executive funding over the next two years to encourage employers to develop sustainable transport plans through the appointment of dedicated travel plan officers.

They will work with major employers to help produce specific packages of measures for commuters and business travellers. The plans will look at ways of reducing single occupancy car use by actively encouraging other options like public transport, car sharing and teleconferencing. Each RTP will be tasked with developing a travel plan strategy which will support the overall transport strategy for each region. While all sectors are being targeted, a key objective is to ensure all local authorities develop travel plans by April 2008.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott said: "Many Scots drive to work without being aware of the alternatives. A more sustainable transport system for the future means less pollution and congestion. This devolved government is committed to promoting travel choice and helping people switch to better environmental options like walking and cycling, car sharing and public transport.

"The new RTPs are ideally placed to work with employers in their region. That is why we have given them funding to support this important work. This will ultimately help all employers play their part in developing viable alternatives to car use."

Travel plans can incorporate a range of measures such as:

Changes to car parking arrangements

Car-sharing schemes

Working with operators to improve or promote local public transport provision

Flexi-time and home-working

Video-conferencing and other technological solutions which reduce the need to travel

Putting in place practical measures to promote walking and cycling, such as well-lit paths, secure bike parking and showers

Improved accessibility to a specific site

The £500,000 per annum award to RTPs is for the two financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 and is allocated as follows: Tayside and Central RTP - £65,000 Highlands and Islands RTP and Shetland RTP (joint funding) - £65,000 North-East of Scotland RTP - £65,000 South-East of Scotland RTP - £90,000 South-West of Scotland RTP - £45,000 West of Scotland RTP (STP) - £170,000 This will fund in most cases one post (three in the case of the West of Scotland RTP), and also includes additional funding to support activity by the postholders.