We are becoming more aware that air travel has a detrimental effect on air quality and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. The question of mitigating air travel has no easy answers, especially since discount air travel has surged in Europe over the past several years. Nevertheless, one UK firm is tackling the dirty issue of hauling those passengers to airports.
Carbon Voyage, based in London, offers individuals a business to make their airport transportation arrangements faster, more efficient, and hopefully, greener. Currently the firm provides rides to and from airports in London’s metropolitan region, but aims to expand throughout the UK.
Here’s how Carbon Voyage works…
The user enters the pick-up address, the destination (usually an airport, but apparently any destination will suffice), and number of passengers. The user then arrives at another page, where a few transportation option appears, including shared options such as a bus, a town car, or a hybrid vehicle. An estimated cost also appears, and then the user can go ahead and book the trip. Carbon Voyage has its own proprietary software system that searches for other trips occurring around the same time. Currently, the firm promises a £5 credit if it turns out that a trip cannot be shared.
How can this make a difference? London is taxicab central; 22,000 licensed taxis and 46,000 private cars for hire roam London’s streets and its environs. All those vehicles guzzle through 700,000 tons of fuel annually, spewing 2 million tons of emissions as a result. Here’s a interesting tidbit for businesses: an office at which employees collectively take 40 taxi rides averaging 6 miles a month generates 1.2 tons of CO2.
And all that doesn’t count the time wasted sitting in traffic as a taxi approaches the airport; the additional CO2 emitted as taxis drive around London, trying to pick up a fare, and all the empty cars sitting at airports and taxi queues. Carbon Voyage’s logic dictates that by encouraging business and pleasure travelers to share vehicles, traffic congestion and CO2 emissions will decrease. One reason what transportation is so polluting is that it is not efficient: Carbon Voyage is a solid step towards efficiency.
Carbon Voyage offers a compelling transportation choice: GigaOm nominated the firm for its GreenNet Launchpad, a San Francisco conference that examines how IT solutions can have a role in combating climate change. Carbon Voyage scored towards the back of the pack, however: ecoATM, an automated system provider for recycling e-waste, won.
Here’s the deal with Carbon Voyage: the idea is great in huge metropolitan areas, but how can it scale to sparsely populated areas and smaller cities? Changing traveler habits is a huge challenge, too. Many travelers loath booking shared shuttles to the airport because the services are generally unreliable and require you to be ready hours ahead of your departure. And those same travelers, who arrive at an airport exhausted after a long flight, may not have booked transport and may just want to get home as quickly as possible. Carbon Voyage, however, is a smart idea, and as businesses become more interested (or mandated) to measure their carbon emissions, a service that kills two birds with one stone—efficient transport and carbon accounting—could very well catch on in London and beyond.