New Research on the Environmental Impact of Uber vs. Traditional Conference Transportation
By Lisa Lanna
Greta Thunberg’s voice is echoing all over the world as she passionately states her case about climate change and its impact on our planet. This is not a topic unfamiliar to event and meeting planners. Increasingly, planners are looking at every aspect of the carbon footprint left in the wake of their meetings and events. Senior management and organization boards are asking planners questions like “How much plastic is being thrown away at our events?”, “How much food waste are we generating?” and “Is ride sharing more environmentally friendly than scheduled shuttle buses?”
Event Transportation Systems (ETS) has also been thinking about the impact of shuttling meeting attendees between hotels and meeting venues, and recently published the study “A Comparison Between the Emissions of Shuttle Buses and Ride-sharing for Event Transportation Services.” You might think ride sharing is the more environmentally friendly transportation option, but according to the study, “Once you break down the emissions generated to a per-passenger amount, the numbers tell a different story…scientific analysis of vehicle emissions shows that even at peak efficiency, ride sharing still has a larger carbon footprint than traditional shuttle bus systems.”
The author considered EPA CO2e (CO2 equivalent) emissions produced for each vehicle type per mile, inclusive of the two other main greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide. It is no surprise that buses produce much more greenhouse emissions on a per mile basis, but when adjusted for the number of passengers on board a bus, the conclusion is that buses actually produce around 35% less emissions per passenger across all occupant capacity utilizations (how much of the vehicle is filled up with passengers).
It’s not until bus ridership falls below 10 passengers when shuttles catch up with ride share emissions output, but with proper planning of shuttle bus routes and frequency, the number of buses with fewer than 10 passengers can be greatly reduced.
So, if you’re a planner and are asked about the environmental impact of transportation services for events, you can come armed with data in your response demonstrating that in comparison to ride- sharing, event shuttle buses produce a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
Lisa Lanna is General Manager of Newsday Communications, the sponsorship division of Event Transportation Systems (ETS), creating opportunities for association clients to generate revenue while promoting organizational and sponsor messaging. She helps clients produce and distribute video content across multiple communication channels, executes the production and installation of shuttle graphics, and provides sales support to associations for video and shuttle bus graphic advertising. As General Manager of Newsday, she manages operations, marketing and an advertising sales team. She also manages marketing and communications for ETS. She has more than 20 years of success in executing new product and program launches in the travel industry, and brings diverse experience in marketing, product development, and implementing technology solutions to support sales and marketing efforts. Previously, Lisa held management positions with organizations including the Global Business Travel Association; US Travel Association; the travel division of National Trust for Historic Preservation; and the Smithsonian Institution.
About the Author of the Study
Carson Hotard, Enterprise Development Manager, Event Transportation Systems (ETS)
Carson Hotard is responsible for the development and implementation of new company procedures, policies, and technologies to ensure sustainable, long-term success of the business enterprise. After graduating with BS and MS Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2016, he started his professional career in the Oil and Gas Industry as a Production Engineer. After several rewarding years of engineering and field operations experience, including the development of a patent-pending instrumentation system, he decided to change careers and apply his technical and problem-solving skills to the hospitality industry with ETS. Aspiring to follow in the footsteps of his father, Eric Hotard, Carson is learning the business and industry inside and out to ensure he can carry on the legacy that Eric has built.
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