Newly elected Pope Francis surprised Vatican watchers when he decided to ride on a coach with cardinals when leaving the Sistine Chapel. Just hours before, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been elected leader of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
As archbishop, he was frequently seen riding on transit buses and taking the regional subway system to visit Catholic parishes and attend meetings.
The pope’s high-profile trip on a coach once again shows the benefits of bus travel. The Union of Concerned Scientists and other environmental groups say that motorcoaches are the greenest form of transportation. Each full motorcoach has the potential of removing 55 autos from the highway. In North America alone, motorcoaches provide an estimated 700 million passenger trips annually, second only to airlines.
Regarding the pope’s frugal and modest lifestyle, a Vatican spokesman commented, “He was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.”
“We at ABA are honored that Pope Francis chose a bus for his first trip just hours after being elected,” said ABA President/CEO Peter Pantuso. “The pope is a longtime rider of buses and other forms of public transportation, and we commend his decision to ride a bus with the cardinals. If and when Pope Francis decides to visit the United States, ABA would be honored if he would again ride on a bus, much as President Obama and other dignitaries do from time to time.”