SOURCE: Destination Shuttle Services/Event Transportation Associates

January 14, 2010 06:01 ET

Destination Shuttle Services Has Reduced CO2 Emissions by 43%, Increased Passenger per Trip Efficiency by 202% at Los Angeles Intl. Airport

Company Created by Event Transportation Associate Delivers Maximized Fleet Utilization

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 14, 2010) - If you were to measure the impact of a consolidated airport shuttle system, how would you define success? Reducing annual CO2 emissions by 43%? Increasing yearly passenger per trip efficiency by 202%? What about eliminating 248,850 shuttle trips annually, resulting in a dramatic reduction in airport traffic? Destination Shuttle Services (DSS) has delivered all of this and more.

On line at Los Angeles International Airport since May 1, 2006, DSS has ushered in a new era of airport transport that can be readily applied to other airports and metro campuses/hubs. While DSS has the expertise in equipment assessment, personnel management and scheduling enhancement, these accomplishments could never have been achieved without an extraordinary climate of cooperation and shared commitment between the 13 participating hotels (Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Embassy Suites, Four Points, Hilton, Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Marriott, Sheraton Gateway, Super 8, Radisson, Renaissance, and Westin) and LAX.


DSS is a sister company of Event Transportation Associates (ETA), a special event management and transportation company renowned for its turn-key support of events and meeting. Advance planning, vendor negotiation, budgeting, staffing, scheduling, contingency plans, graphic support and post event analysis -- ETA delivers whatever is required for a successful event. Over the past 20 years, the company has managed events and created unique transportation solutions for some of the largest, most prestigious and security conscious events in North America, including the 1992, 2000 and 2008 Democratic National Conventions, 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, 1999 Women's World Cup Soccer, USA, special security transportation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and the US Senior Open Golf Tournament. ETA also provides this level of expertise to create custom programs for a host of conventions and smaller scale corporate and sporting events.

Having successfully handled transportation management for the 2000 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, Event Transportation Associates was approached to analyze and submit a proposal on consolidating hotel-airport shuttle service at Los Angeles International Airport.

LAX was under pressure from the EPA and surrounding communities to reduce emissions and traffic in the terminal. Drawing from ETA diverse background, and with these goals in mind, Destination Shuttle Services was conceptualized as a separate company dedicated to the management of the LAX hotel shuttle system. With the initial proposal approved, equipment needed to be purchased. On September 11, 2001 Jack Lott, President of ETA was at BusCon in St. Louis, reviewing equipment for a new hotel bus fleet. With the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, LAX had to reassess everything.

The Trade-offs

In 2004, with heightened security systems in place and continuing global warming concerns, hotel shuttle consolidation was revisited. LAX had initiated a new policy requiring area hotels reduce shuttle trips entering the airport campus by 35% or pay a penalty assessment for every trip over the newly established limit. Action had to be taken. With DSS established, the negotiations with the hotels began. Getting all the major hotels together to agree on a common plan required 27 attorneys representing hotel chains, owners, and on-site management companies -- all stakeholders in the outcome. What was being asked wasn't easy. Surrender control and share a common service level with other properties. Lose the corporate "look" for a fleet of vehicles for buses with only "Hotel Shuttle" on the exterior. Lose control over the drivers, who are the first customer service contact for the hotel guests arriving in L.A. and abandon the notion of door-to-door service for 2 or 3 stops on a route designed by an outside company.

"Remember that these hotels are vying for the same pool of customers -- airport travelers in need of overnight accommodations," said Brian Clark, Chief Operating Officer of ETA. "For 13 competing properties to sit down together and hammer out a consolidated transportation plan is nothing short of remarkable. They should be commended for seeing the big picture."

But there was also considerable upside to joining forces. The ability to offer shuttle service without hotel staff supervision would allow hotels to get out of the arms race of ever escalating transportation delivery expectations, freeing management to focus on their core business. Participation in a program projected to have a considerable positive impact on the immediate environment would burnish their reputations as good corporate citizens. And by eliminating the liability associated with having guests transported in a hotel vehicle and airport fees on hotel shuttle services, a property's bottom line would benefit twofold.

Maximizing Fleet Utilization

Once approval of the consolidated shuttle system was secured, DSS was charged with designing and managing the service. First order of business: update/upgrade the vehicles. Gasoline and diesel-fueled models were replaced primarily with 20-passenger, ADA compliant Chevrolet C4500 and C5500 (workhorses of the shuttle world) fueled with compressed natural gasoline (CNG) and/or propane. The average model year was updated from 1999 to 2007. With a more modern fleet, DSS went about converting the existing assigned-vehicle-to-route scheduling to an active "pooled" dispatch process. Having analyzed the existing traffic patterns, DSS incorporated the ETA proprietary scheduling software to not only time equipment and staff to ongoing needs, but also facilitate quick response to any spike in traffic. This "intelligent consolidation" not only increased passenger load from 5.96 travelers per bus trip to nearly 12.05 per trip, but also reduced overall fleet size as well as the number of buses required at any given time to service the shuttle needs of the hotels. The result: maximized fleet utilization.

This partnership has paid off in many ways. By combining the benefits of updated vehicles, alternative fuels, pooled dispatch and interactive scheduling, annual passengers of the hotel shuttle system have increased from 2,595,000 to 2,640,000, with a fleet of 32 vehicles, down from 65. Trips to LAX were reduced from 437,000 to 219,000 reflecting a considerable reduction in traffic. An efficient, updated fleet delivering more passengers with fewer vehicles is a great improvement, but the real story came with the dramatic reduction of the four specific pollutants comprising vehicle emissions:

-- NOx (Nitrogen oxide) (1)           (84.6% reduction)
-- CO2 (Carbon monoxide) (2)          (43.4% reduction)
-- NMHC (Non-methane Hydrocarbons)    (99.6% reduction)
-- PM (Particulate Matter)            (85.1% reduction)

(A copy of the white paper detailing these findings is available upon request)

"Of course there are continual challenges in delivering transportation," states Jack Lott, "especially when you are asking passengers to ride longer on fuller buses." But surveys of thousands of passengers who use the service confirm, the environmental benefits are significantly more important than an extra 10 minutes on a bus ride. In fact, an overwhelming 97% of consolidated shuttle services users report that they feel it's important that the hotels they choose to patronize need to do everything possible to reduce their impact on climate.

And yet, there is still room for improvement. DSS is now focusing on eliminating "deadhead miles," miles required to reposition vehicles rather than transport passengers. It is estimated that an additional 15% can be reduced from average miles per trip, yielding further savings and benefits. Additionally, ETA-DSS is developing dynamic routing software and way-finding signage which would update riders on the current whereabouts of their arriving shuttle bus.

Destination Shuttle Services' mission is to develop the most efficient, innovative and environmentally sustainable systems for commercial and private passenger bus transport operations.

Event Transportation Associates is a national leader in event and transportation management. ETA provides hands-on management resources and oversight of every aspect of an event, designing a custom solution for the unique complexities of each program.

Both companies can be reached at 800-728-1025.



Contact Information

  • Press Contact:
    Cinnia Finfer
    The Finfer Group, Inc.