Setting the wheels in motion
Coach travel has changed in recent years. Hi-tech, comfortable vehicles serve an unparalleled range of destinations, carrying people from every sector of society – from corporate travellers, Premiership footballers and overseas tourists, to school parties and OAP groups. They travel to a huge range of destinations from traditional tourist centres, seaside resorts and stately homes to industrial heritage sites and shopping centres all of which benefit the local economy. Coaches also promote social inclusion by transporting people who would otherwise find it difficult to access other forms of public transport.
Coach travel is the greenest travel option in the UK today: it is twice as efficient as rail, nearly four times more efficient than the car, and six times more efficient than air travel1. Coach travel has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per passenger per km of any mode of transport – in terms of emissions, the average coach equates to 20 cars on the road.
A valuable tourist attraction
Last year there were more than 20,000 coaches on the road in the UK, travelling 1.3 billion km. Nearly seven million people went on holiday by coach last year, generating £1.15 billion revenue across the regions2. In addition, there were 266 million day-trips by coach with, on average, each passenger spending more than £503 per trip. Supporting the coach industry in your region can present clear and major benefits to your local economy. And what’s good for the coach industry is good for the tourist industry as a whole. For every person directly employed by coach operators – and there are 50,000 of them – three more jobs are created in the tourism sector.
Travel that doesn’t cost the earth
The government has set itself tough carbon dioxide emission reduction targets of up to 80 per cent by 2050 when compared with 1990 levels. Transport is responsible for 28 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions4.
To assess the full impact of transport modes on CO2 emissions, it is important to take into account the average occupancies of each mode and look at the emissions per person travelling. Coaches emit 0.03kg of CO2 per person per km, half that of rail and radically smaller than that emitted by cars (0.11) and air travel (0.18)5. To put those statistics in context, travelling from London to Newquay by coach rather than by car saves the amount of CO2 emissions produced from energy needed to watch TV for 360 hours or to run your fridge for 133 days6. Travelling the 400 km from London to Scarborough by car results in CO2 emissions of 46 kg per person, whereas the same trip by coach emits just 12 kg of CO2 per person.
Coaches also help to cut congestion, with a single coach carrying 50 people or more, while taking up the road space of just two cars.
Access all areas
Compared with ten years ago, the average person is travelling further and spending longer on the road. Historically, the coach has been the people’s choice for cost effective long-distance transport. Nonexclusive and great value for money, it has put travel and tourism within the grasp of millions.
This legacy of social inclusion still applies today. In 2006, more than half of UK households in the lowest quartile for incomes did not have access to a car, as opposed to just nine per cent in the highest quartile7. The cost per person of a trip from Manchester to Blackpool by car is two and a half times that of the coach8. The further a passenger travels, the better value for money it becomes. Travelling from London to Edinburgh by coach is four times cheaper than going by car.
1. Statistics from DEFRA 2006 and NAEI
2. UK Tourism Survey and UK Day Visitor Survey
3. UK Tourism Survey and UK Day Visitor Survey
4. OFT Transport Trends 2007
5. Statistics from OEFRA and NAEI 2006
6. Statistics from OEFRA, NAEI 2006 and Energy Saving Trust
7. OfT Transport Trends 2007
8. Average cost at time of writing