Coach Travels Impact on the Environment

Published: 26th January 2022

Coaches and buses are the cleanest way to travel. Whoever has doubts ought to put the coach numbers through a carbon footprint calculator and have a good look at the corresponding figures for alternative modes of transportation, especially the figure representing the CO2 emissions per passenger. Calculated in kilograms per person, for every journey, this figure reveals that coach travel is as environmentally friendly as it gets these days.

For instance, a trip from London to Edinburgh on one of our coaches results in average CO2 emissions per passenger of 9.2 kg per journey, whereas the same journey by a car carrying 1.56 persons would produce 71 kg, by plane 96.4 and by modern high-speed electric train 11.9.

The numbers are statistics taken from the Department for Transport/National Atmospheric Emission Inventory and might serve as background information for why, instead of automatically opting for car transportation to group meetings, more and more people travel by coach to reduce their carbon footprint, enjoy the friendly atmosphere on the coach, and avoid the hassle of parking their vehicles.

One of the most important reasons why coach travel champions the effort to spare the environment is that it reduces congestion. The rationale here is obvious; a coach full of passengers takes up far less space on the road compared to the alternative scenario, in which the same people travel individually by car.

And the broader implications of reduced road congestion have a snowballing effect; reduced road congestion allows average speeds to rise, which in turn allows engines to operate more efficiently, with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.

A direct effect of lower congestion is of course that it also produces less air pollution. Furthermore, there are fewer road accidents.

Technology plays a decisive role in making coach travel a top performer in environmentally friendly transportation options. Coach engines are constantly optimised for low emissions of diesel particles and low fuel consumption. Various engineering technologies capitalise on the combination of highly efficient engines and the latest emission-reduction techniques.

These innovations in engineering have achieved spectacular goals already. Today, coach travel is considered twice as efficient as rail, nearly four times more efficient than car travel, and six times more efficient than air travel. For every coach in operation, approximately 20 cars are taken off the road.

National Express Transport Solutions aims to cut fuel consumption by two per cent across the entire fleet. A further example of improved environmental credentials is improving emission levels by adding a reducing agent to the diesel used in a coach. This converts the pollutant nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and water vapour, two harmless substances. This type of innovation significantly lowers particulate emissions.

These are especially important factors in the city of London, which recently has adopted European rules for its Low Emission Zone (LEZ), requiring all coaches to meet the new particle exhaust emissions levels set by Transport for London (TfL). Coaches which do not meet these stringent regulations pay a surcharge when they access the zone. The new rules ensure coaches meet European Union standards.

The UK government has embarked on an effort to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent by 2050 and the transport sector is playing a pivotal role in this, as it is responsible for 28 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions. The Confederation of Passenger Transport released figures showing that if only a ten per cent rise in annual coach journeys is achieved, this would translate into over 17 million fewer car journeys.

Travelling by coach, whether during a company outing, a family reunion, a wedding, a school trip or a regular commute, greatly contributes to improving the environment around us. Congestion on the roads is reduced, parking requirements are eliminated, CO2 reductions are decisively significant and as coaches are generally allowed to use bus lanes, travel is swift and relaxing.

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