Ecotaxi numbers double at Stockholm-Arlanda as carbon reduction initiative wins another environmental award
Wed 16 Mar 2011 – A year on from introducing a taxi dispatch system that gives precedence to cars with the lowest emissions, Stockholm-Arlanda Airport has notched up yet another award for its pioneering scheme to reduce ground transport emissions. The ‘Environmental Initiative of the Year’ prize was awarded by Sweden’s leading travel trade publication. The system is the only one of its kind in the world, claims the airport, and automatically gives taxis with the smallest environmental impact the shortest waiting times. It has led to the share of ‘ecotaxis’ serving the airport to increase from 47 per cent to 87 per cent and has reduced carbon emissions by over 9,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, single travellers to and from London’s Stansted Airport, are being offered a new taxi service that uses the 85-miles-per-gallon Smart Car, which is not only environmentally-friendly but also means cheaper taxi fares.
According to Jan Lindqvist, Head of Corporate Communication at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport: “Ground transport to and from the airport today accounts for the largest share of the airport’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The less carbon dioxide a car produces, the shorter the time the driver has to wait. The new system already has had a major impact in reducing emissions.”
Taxi emissions at Arlanda are calculated on the basis of the vehicle’s registration certificate, and a further 65% deduction in emissions is made for cars that run on ethanol and an 85% deduction is made for those that run on biogas, in line with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions model. To ensure vehicles that run on ‘green’ fuel actually refuel with it, there is a monitoring system that checks to ensure the car has at least 80% of the fuel indicated. Last September, Sweden’s biggest biogas filling station opened at the airport.
“With the control system, we know that the cars really use the fuel indicated so we can calculate the reduction in emissions and give the best ecotaxis shorter waiting times,” said Lindqvist. “This has speeded up the process of switching from old-fashioned taxis that run on petrol to more modern vehicles that use green fuel.”
The scheme was implemented in phases to give taxi drivers time to switch to environmentally cleaner vehicles. Since its introduction, the system has won numerous prizes and honours and attracted attention in Sweden and abroad as an example of how to transform operations with simple means to achieve more sustainable development, reports the airport.
Cab4one is the result of a ‘lightbulb moment’ of former foreign exchange trader Justin Ott and his father Martin, who noticed how many taxis carried only one passenger. Further research uncovered that 82% of daytime taxi journeys were single occupancy and the Otts quickly saw a business opportunity.
In addition to the lower environmental impact of using smaller, lower emission vehicles, Justin also discovered that they cost a lot less to run. “We opted for Smart Cars as they have the right combination of features,” he recounted. “Those include high fuel efficiency, low emissions and a high safety rating. And, when combined with the fuel efficiency, running costs are significantly lower than many models used as taxis. They’re also big inside and small outside!”
The Otts have opted for the Smart Four Two Passion Cdi model, which they say is the greenest conventionally powered car on British roads, with a fuel consumption of up to 85 miles per gallon (3.32 litres per 100km) and CO2 emissions of just 89 grams per kilometre.
So far they are only licensed to operate journeys starting or ending within the local district council area that includes Stansted Airport. They can therefore pick up or take a passenger from or to the airport or transfer between Stansted and another London airport. Martin Ott said they plan to get licensing approval to operate in the London City and Docklands area, where the company will be branded minicab4one. If all goes well, further expansion is on the cards along with the possibility of franchising the operation.
Cab4one customers are not only choosing a greener ecotaxi alternative but they can also benefit from lower fares as a result of the reduced running costs of the Smart Cars. The cars can easily carry a large suitcase and also come equipped with onboard wi-fi and a facility for charging most electronic devices.
Although light and comfortable, Martin Ott concedes the compactness of the car means passenger and driver are in rather close proximity compared to a conventional cab but a couple of pilots with a well-known budget carrier at Stansted, who use his service, have assured him it’s more pleasurable than sitting in the cabin of a modern 737.
Recognition of the Otts’ inspired business idea has come in the form of a nomination for The Business Travel & Meetings Show Innovation Awards 2011, where minicab4one was shortlisted in the Corporate Social Responsibility Sustainable Travel, Carbon Footprint and Socially Aware Initiatives categories.
Stansted Airport itself is involved in a green ground transportation initiative and recently held an open day to coincide with the start of the Hydrogen On Site Trials (HOST) that are being carried out by energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power. Attendees were given the first live demonstration of the company’s HFuel Refuelling system with two Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (HICE) Ford Transit vans.
HFuel is a self-contained module suitable for refuelling hydrogen-powered road vehicles and forklift trucks. It requires an on-site water and electricity supply but is otherwise an autonomous solution for refuelling hydrogen-powered vehicles. As the hydrogen is produced on site, at the point of use, there is no need for fuel delivery by a road tanker, so reducing the carbon footprint still further.
The vehicles to be used in the trial are modified internal combustion petrol engine Ford Transit vans that cost, claims ITM, a fraction of the price of currently available fuel cell vehicles.
“The primary purpose of the trial for us will be to determine the options of using this technology for our existing airside vehicle fleet,” said Dr Andy Jefferson, Stansted Airport’s Head of Health, Safety and Environment. “The airport’s average air quality is well below EU limits but we’re always keen to seek and explore new opportunities that will further reduce our emissions and our carbon footprint.”