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Hosting a Spectacular, Sustainable Event: Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

In 2022, Birmingham proudly hosted The Commonwealth Games, drawing athletes and spectators from 72 nations and territories. Alongside jaw dropping sporting achievements, organisers put on a dazzling array of culture and heritage events.

To deliver a successful Commonwealth Games, Birmingham City Council (BCC) needed to provide an innovative travel solution that would promote safe, low-carbon travel.

The You. Smart. Thing. (YST) visitor-facing travel assistant service is configured to manage event-specific travel demand challenges and curate personalised low-carbon journey options. Other major events deploying the service include UK City of Culture and Paradise City Festival.

Creating a sustainable legacy

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) set out to deliver the most sustainable Commonwealth Games:

● Minimise Scope 3 travel emissions
● Accurately forecast travel demand across 20 sites for 1.5 million+ spectators, athletes and games officials in addition to normal travel demand
● Promote public and active transport, including free cycle hire
● Offer contingency plans to manage disruption caused by rail strikes
● Offer bespoke integration and functionality compatible with ticketing and CRM systems

YST technology delivered tailored routes that dynamically combine low-carbon travel demand management rules for 20 host venues and specific events with people’s individual travel requirements.

The Greenest Games

With a wealth of visitor data captured by YST technology, Birmingham can boast the 2022 Games was the greenest ever, with nearly 70% of the public opting to use public transport and 13% walking or cycling. Impressively, travel forecast data showed that the Games may have had one of the lowest uses of private cars, with only 15.9% of visitors intending to drive.

Compared to the Games’ initial carbon footprint calculations spectator travel was approximately 30% less than the industry benchmark. Nevertheless, spectator travel accounted for >50% of the Games’ carbon footprint.

Improving Accessibility

Organisers prioritised accessibility, so YST promoted accessible ‘step-free’ travel planning and specially tailored last-mile routes to key venues. The platform’s ‘Request Assistance’ feature enabled attendees to notify contacts of route and location, and to plan a trip to meet them if required.

Capturing Audience Travel Emissions

By mid-2022, 720,000 travel plans had been created. Data identifying the mode-of-transport selected by people subscribing to travel plan updates allowed YST to estimate total travel emissions. Using UK government Department for Transport journey emissions comparisons methodology and guidance, YST calculated WMCA events caused 2,921 tCO2e.

Andrew Steele, COO and principal architect of the platform said:

“The Commonwealth Games has given the West Midlands […] the opportunity to trailblaze in the delivery of sustainable travel. We are experiencing the emergence of a new low-carbon travel industry which we are proud to be part of, driving long-term investment, job creation and genuinely sustainable economic growth.”