A Step-change in Visitor Travel Behaviour
In the lead-up to this year’s West Midlands events, travel forecast data from the YST platform showed that they were likely to have one of the lowest uses of private cars compared to previous major events, with under 16% of visitors suggesting they would use their car to get to venues. This represents a step-change in visitor travel behaviour.
Despite UK rail strikes and rail disruption, the same data set, taken from visitor travel plans also showed over 65% of audiences opting for public transport, including dedicated shuttlebus services, and over 13% simply opting to walk or cycle. Perhaps it was the nature of the events themselves, combined with Transport for West Midlands’ walking and cycling plan, bike hire and new cycle lane infrastructure, that inspired people to opt for more active and sustainable travel choices.
Chart: ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ West Midlands travel assistant deployments, visitor travel forecast by mode, 21/07/22.
Capturing the Carbon Footprint from Visitor Travel
By mid 2022, over three quarters of a million travel plans had been created using WMCA deployments of the YST travel assistant, which gave visitors the option to subscribe to travel plan updates as well as just planning their trip. “This has been key in managing rail disruption.”, advises Thompson, “In advance of the strikes the platform was able to redirect people to specially commissioned coach services rather than travelling by private car.”
Data identifying the mode-of-transport selected by people subscribing to travel plan updates has allowed YST to estimate the total travel carbon footprint from visitors using its service to plan a trip to West Midlands events to be just under 2,921 CO2e tonnes, calculated using the UK government’s Department for Transport journey emissions comparisons methodology and guidance.
Chart: ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ West Midlands travel assistant deployments, travel plan forecast by modal share of CO2e, 08/08/22.
Whilst indicating an overall carbon footprint significantly less than that generated by visitor travel to previous major events, the data clearly illustrates the impact of private car use – even with driving comprising less than 16% of the modal split, and the importance of incentivising people to switch to less polluting modes of transport. The YST dataset will be used to help calculate the overall carbon footprint for regional events, offsetting activity and carbon credits in line with the UK’s Paris Agreement commitments, and emerging carbon credit trading initiatives.
It’s clear that the YST travel assistant service will continue to deliver world-class visitor experiences for destinations, venues and events globally, bringing legacy value to host cities, residents and businesses. More locally, it can help catalyse an events-driven economic boost to the West Midlands region of the UK, estimated at over £1.2 billion. A major impact of the service will be in helping the cultural sector to address climate change by monitoring and reducing the impact of visitor travel. Wider adoption of the YST travel assistant service by venues and events will deliver legacy value, not just for the regional economies, but for future generations around the world.
Andrew Steele, Chief Operating Officer at YST and principal architect of the platform concludes:
“Hosting major events has given the West Midlands region, and the UK as a whole, the opportunity to trailblaze in the delivery of sustainable travel. We are experiencing the emergence of a new low-carbon travel industry which we are proud to be part of, driving long-term investment, job creation and regional economic growth.”
Hashtags: #Travel #Tourism #Events #Sustainability
About ‘You. Smart. Thing.’
The ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ travel assistant interface plugs into websites or smartphone apps, to offer pre-configured transport modes and routes that help manage people-flow and minimise overcrowding. For larger venues it can also integrate with ticketing and CRM systems and booking flows, streamlining box office management and customer engagement.
Curating their trip minimises visitors’ carbon footprint whilst enhancing their overall experience. Visitors receive email or SMS updates in the event of delays or disruption, and operational teams get granular GDPR-compliant information about who is coming, where from and how, creating a communication tool and valuable dataset for better informed decisions.
‘You. Smart. Thing.’ was developed in association with the Department for Transport and is currently being rolled out across the UK, helping to rebuild audiences and a thriving cultural economy by actively promoting sustainable travel to venues and events.
For information about ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ please visit https://yousmartthing.com/
About West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is 18 local authorities, including Birmingham City Council and four Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) including Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, working together to move powers from Whitehall to the West Midlands.
For information about West Midlands Combined Authority visit: https://www.wmca.org.uk