Industry Update
Opinion Article 6 April 2010

A few easy steps towards a more carbon efficient travel pattern

By Jan Peter Bergkvist

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Bergkvist

We all know that the travel and tourism business is facing huge changes forced by society’s need to fight climate change and to turn to a low carbon- and ideally a non-fossil travel system. Finally IATA has changed its approach from talking only about how small percentage of the total problem they thought air travel is to really taking on the challenge with a clear goal to SAVE and CHANGE.

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SAVING on energy through new technique (efficient engines, new shapes of wings etc.) and changed behavior (green approaches and towing instead of taxing to and from runways etc.) and…

CHANGING by introducing fuels made from renewable sources.

This is good but need to happen much faster than currently planned in order to meet the fast increasing concentration of green house gases in our atmosphere.

While following that development closely air lines, travel agents, airports and hotels can engage in the transport infrastructure on ground. Midsized airports like Denver, Madrid or Stockholm (to name a few I recently visited) have around 50-130,000 travelers daily.

Travelers that practically all have one thing in common, they need to commute to down town in a fast and smooth manner.

This is where we have a great opportunity to improve the transport infrastructure at the airports. I am not talking about new trams or high speed trains (yes we of course need those too) but simply about making the information “infrastructure” clear and visible in order to facilitate for all travelers to commute with the existing public transportation.

Today the traditional priorities are that the first things you see are the desks of the car rental companies followed by mega sized signs explaining the way to the parking house. Right outside the terminal you normally find a long queue of cabs (taxis) waiting (very often with the engines running).

If you choose the go by public transportation (which I constantly do since January this year) you will experience a totally different and a much less facilitating set up at many airports.

I have (based on experience) gathered a short list of actions that I recommend to any destination and airport that want to become more sustainable:

Sustainable transportation TOP 11 LIST for airports, destinations and hotels…

  • Rank the communication of the commuting options by carbon efficiency and by the order in which they meet the traveler (e.g. metro, trains, trams, public coaches, shuttles, shared taxis, taxis and rental cars). The easiest to access to be the metro, trains and trams and move the public coaches stops in front of the taxi stands as the first thing you see outside the terminal.
  • Improve the size and clarity (pictograms) of the signage explaining the public transportation alternatives.
  • Offer an easy to find, manned information desk with ticket sales possibilities for all public transportation.
  • Combine that desk with a touch screen computer available 24/7 where the traveler enter the destination and gets a print-out outlining the directions, where to change, ticket price and information about where to buy the tickets.
  • Offer the opportunity to buy tickets and pay with a credit card on line.
  • Inspire the local taxi (cab) companies to introduce hybrid cars and cars run on renewable fuels and give those cars a fast lane in the taxi queue.
  • Invite the cab companies to offer a taxi sharing product and open a fast lane for those taxis.
  • Encourage the bus companies to invest in hybrid coaches.
  • Demand from the taxi and bus companies that they educate their drivers in eco driving and do not accept that they have engines running when waiting.
  • Encourage hotels to display the time tables for the public transportation to the airport and with a local map showing the stop. A “bus/tram/metro stop” info section in the lobby!
  • Explain already at the hotel’s website the cost for public transportation and where to buy tickets. Combine with general information such as day cards and other rebate systems as well as short information about the standard and safety of the public transportation system.

April 2010
Jan Peter Bergkvist
SleepWell AB

Jan Peter Bergkvist

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