Motorcoach travel: the greenest

Posted on April 2, 2009 by Peter J. Pantuso

Seemingly everybody, from transportation providers to the product and service industries, is trying to burnish their green credentials these days.

When you travel by motorcoach, you’re choosing the greenest option. What makes the motorcoach industry’s pronouncements as a model Mother Earth defender different than the daily “greenwashing” by any given pretender?

How about academic and scientific studies verifying buses are the greenest, most ecologically-sound form of transportation?

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group that fights for climate change, recently released a report entitled: “Getting There Greener: The Guide To Your Lower Carbon Vacation.” Their scientific conclusion: go by bus to go green.

“A couple traveling on a motorcoach will generate nearly 50 percent less global warming pollution than they would driving a hybrid car,” the study found. American Bus Association (ABA) couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Couple that scientific study with the updated DePaul University study showing how more bus travel cuts carbon dioxide, and science and academia have spoken eloquently:

“The growth of new bus operators … over the past year has reduced the carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 36,000 tons,” the DePaul study by Dr. Joseph P. Schwieterman found. “These estimates are based on the proportional shift in travel from less fuel-efficient modes to more fuel-efficient modes of transportation.”

We’ve been saying that motorcoaches are green and cost-effective; now, the academic and scientific communities have begun to carry the message for us — both to policymakers and the media — after doing the research themselves.

Motorcoaches lead every other travel mode in terms of fuel efficiency on a per-passenger basis, averaging more than 200 passenger miles per gallon, according to a 2008 study by MJ Bradley & Associates. The study, “Updated Comparison of Energy Use & Emissions from Different Transportation Modes,” shows that motorcoaches offer a whopping 206.6 passenger mpg, the highest of 14 modes studied.

Among the 14 modes studied, personal automobiles averaged 22.4 passenger mpg, SUVs 15 passenger mpg and hybrid cars 46 passenger mpg.

At a time when others are now asking for a taxpayer bailout for their failures, the motorcoach manufacturers and the independent bus operators, who provide more than 751 million passenger trips annually, continue to be the greenest way to go, with virtually no federal subsidy. The motorcoach industry continues to attract new riders, each day, the old fashioned way: through providing a superior travel experience that allows Americans to reduce their carbon footprint, while still maintaining their freedom of mobility to go to our country’s great destinations, whether for business or leisure.

The full study is available on the ABA Foundation Website at

Many of today’s highways in and around major urban centers were never designed to carry the traffic loads that now exceed their capacity to the point of showing how badly we need investment in infrastructure repair. Motorcoaches have a role here as well. Standard 45-foot coaches are obviously larger than the biggest of SUVs. But, coaches typically seat 55 passengers, potentially removing 55 single-occupant autos from congested roads. That cuts gridlock, emissions and wasted energy.

We hope to work with President Obama and the new Congress to lend a hand, not ask for a handout. Our industry is cost-effective, accessible, convenient and hassle-free, as well as green. We infuse every community with tourism dollars through retail spending on lodging, dining, attractions, souvenirs and tax revenue. We bind the nation together and provide mobility to millions of Americans who otherwise wouldn’t have it.

It’s this simple: motorcoaches are part of America’s energy solution.

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