The Greenest Event of Them All Part 7: Getting There

Fuel Cell Bus

Fuel Cell Bus

Let’s face it, there is no easy road to follow when talking about transportation. Event organizers face a trifecta of transportation constraints: permanent infrastructure, semi-permanent infrastructure, and temporary transit solutions – with only the latter in the full control of the event organizer.

One reason to select a LEED certified venue or neighborhood (yes, they have those too), which I spoke briefly to in Part 4, is LEED developers often gain points toward certification by ensuring access to and support for public transit. This means LEED buildings are often located near infrastructure such as rapid transit hubs or bus stations, have pedestrian-accessible sidewalks, and include showers for employees commuting by bike (or a crowded subway). A sporting event with many visitors, like a large office, requires a lot of logistical thinking around transportation. Choosing a venue located near rapid transit, and where visitors can walk and/or bike is the first option for those looking to green transportation.

Not all organizers have the power to choose their venue, however, and if you’re hosting anything other than the Olympics you likely won’t be funding the construction of a new subway line anytime soon. However, if the event is recurring – say, a yearly or seasonal competition at a downtown convention center or university campus – you may be able to work out semi-permanent infrastructure solutions. Universities do this all the time, of course. Colleges across the country have influenced city governments to move bus-stops to roads near football fields and performance centers, increasing mobility of visitors and athletes. They have also partnered more recently with companies such as Zip Car, to provide vehicle time-sharing options to commuters.

Don’t bow your head in dismay if the above options are unavailable to you. Hosting a one-time event on a sub-Olympian budget? Temporary infrastructure is perhaps the most important solution. Work with your city/municipal government, and they can guide you in locating bicycle racks, providing increased security measures (for bicyclists and pedestrians), and drawing visitor maps outlining directions by foot or bicycle. If you are impacting a significant portion of the local municipality, you may be able to reroute a city bus to provide a temporary transit solution. Lastly, many event organizers capitalize on motorcoaches (which can save 64% of fuel compared to driving the same distance), old school busses, or encourage athletes to carpool the day of the event. (The downside to motorcoaches is their singular departure and arrival schedules, when visitors may want to arrive and depart at various times throughout the event).

Prices for providing public transportation do not have to be outrageous. However, there will be a cost, and more non-drivers means less revenue from the parking lots. One option would be to include the cost of bus or transit in the ticket price. While raising the cost of admission, this has the positive effect of not making the consumer feel extorted by making an additional payment for transit or parking. Another option is to charge for personal parking based on number of occupants in the vehicle. Besides encouraging friendly socializing and tailgating, if fewer parking spaces are needed overall, there might be more room left for selling those pre-game hot dogs.

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