A recent Booking.com survey reported that 72% of travelers say people should make sustainable travel choices. Thank goodness for that, because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that 14% of greenhouse gases are from the transport sector. We all know we need to bring that down. Climate change is real and we need to deal with it now instead of lumping this massive problem on the backs of the next generation. So where does the charter bus and tour industry fit in? The following article will assess transportation’s impact on climate change, focusing primarily on charter buses. But we won’t stop there. We’ll also talk about how tour operators can maximize the sustainability of their trips.
Transportation is a big source of greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s still necessary!
Transportation is a huge part of the greenhouses gases that are choking the planet, but we can’t stop travelling. We’re humans and we crave connection. We can, however, make smarter choices to reduce our carbon footprint when we’re travelling. Climate change is not a problem that’s going to be fixed by any one initiative. We all have to work together to do the right thing for the environment and the future. That means tour operators, charter bus companies, and vacationers have to make greener decisions.
Travelling by charter bus is a way of reducing emissions
Here’s the good news about charter buses. On a scale from walking to riding a dump truck, travelling by bus comes in third, behind only walking and cycling. This might be surprising to some because a bus is such a large vehicle. But when you factor in the amount of people it can transport, buses become a far more sustainable option. A coach bus can transport up to 55 people. The average car holds 2 people. When you transport a group by bus, you cut your group’s presence on the road by half. And from the tour operator’s perspective, not only is keeping everyone together in one vehicle more efficient, it’s more fun too!
How emissions are calculated
The above paragraph makes the sustainability calculation pretty simple, and it can be. But if you’re interested in exactly how emissions and efficiency are calculated, there’s a lot of complexity to consider. Buses emit more than cars, however when you measure environmental efficiency like researchers, they become a far better option. Most researchers calculate efficiency by megajoules per passenger kilometer. This measurement takes into account the amount of people that are moved and how far they are moved, highlighting the greenest transportation option. So a bus operates at 0.92 megajoules per passenger kilometer, while a car operates at 2.1. The catch to this is that these calculations are based on full buses. If a bus is not full, it’s less efficient.
Buses compared to other tour vehicles
Buses are already the best vehicle for tour groups for a number of reasons. They keep everyone together so information can be shared on the road. They are cost-effective which brings down the tour ticket price. And they are easy to charter, making custom routes a possibility for many small and medium tour companies. In terms of sustainability, they’re a terrific choice. Bike tours and walking tours are great fun and extremely environmentally-friendly, but they aren’t always appropriate. Take seniors’ tours for instance. Elderly participants might not be able to walk or bike for long, so the comfortable coach bus is the most accessible option.
Fill that bus! How to make charter bus travel more efficient
We’ve discussed how buses are more efficient than cars, and touched on how efficiency is calculated. We also pointed out those calculations are based on a full bus. That means a full bus is an efficient bus. In order to ensure your tour is as efficient as possible, it’s important to make sure no seat goes to waste. We understand that it’s difficult to sell exactly the amount of tickets as there are seats on a bus, but full capacity is a great goal for your budget and the planet. Keep track of how many seats are empty on your tours and use that information to avoid underbooking in the future. If you think you need fewer seats, consider the mini coach.
More eco-efficiency tips
Filling the bus is the most important thing you can do, but here are a few more tips to minimize that carbon footprint.
Market group tours to vacationers
Market surveys show that people want to make green choices when it comes to their vacations. If we can convince more families to participate in group tours, then we get more people on buses and fewer vehicles on the road. Tours aren’t just for seniors (though they are an excellent activity for residences). They are a fabulous way of getting an intimate look at a destination. Use that messaging to attract vacationers away from car travel and towards bus tours.
Travel outside of peak season and rush hour
Congestion is a major hindrance to sustainable travel. When there’s traffic, more vehicles are stuck on the road for longer, increasing the amount of emissions in the air for that time period. To emit less while you’re on the road, travel outside of peak season and rush hour. That means offering off-season tours or tours outside of the regular commuter traffic.
Give out reusable water bottles as event swag
If you regularly give out branded swag to tour participants, make sure it’s not something they’re going to throw out. Choose a quality water bottle that’s beautifully designed. Participants will be more likely to keep using water bottles if they’re pretty and functional. Not only will they keep your logo with them long after the tour, they’ll avoid buying disposable bottles.