Transport and Travel Impacts

View looking over a beach rugby game

Why measure travel impacts?

Quite often those involved in managing and holding an event tend to focus on reducing the direct environmental impact of their activities, such as energy use or waste. However, an increasing number of studies have found that visitor travel to and from an event can have one of the most significant impacts.

The scale of impact will depend not only on the number of visitors and the distance they travel, but also the method of travel and vehicle occupancy. If the event is held over several days, visitors may stay in nearby overnight accommodation, and so will need to travel between their accommodation and the event site. The geographical location of an event can influence how visitors travel to an event, and also the environmental impact.

The environmental impact of event travel can be measured using a survey of visitors during an event, or following an event (i.e. online). Some event organisers collect visitor postcode data as part of their online ticket purchasing system. While this can provide information on where visitors have travelled from, it will need to be supplemented with data on method of travel.

Basic Measures

Basic measures include

Travel Management Plan

This is a plan for managing how visitors can access the event by various forms of transport, and on-site and off-site infrastructure that is needed. Indicators of on-site management include:

  • Number of car parking spaces (including disabled and car sharing places)
  • No. of motorcycles parking spaces
  • No of cycling parking spaces
  • On site cycle and walking routes

Indicators of the presence of off-site infrastructure include

  • Local walking and cycling routes
  • Local bus station(s) and bus stops (including information on routes and frequency of services)
  • Local train station(s) (including information on routes and frequency of services)
  • Local road network

To reduce the environmental impact of visitor travel, the Travel Management Plan should also identify ways to reduce road congestion and encourage visitors to travel using more sustainable modes (e.g. public transport or car-sharing). It may also include specific targets, for example, “X% increase in the number of visitors travelling by public transport”. The plan should also record the success of any specific initiatives developed to encourage more sustainable travel choices. 

Intermediate Measures

Intermediate measures consider the number of visitors travelling by different methods of transport, and the total distance travelled by all visitors (to and from the event), and also during the event. These include:

  • Total distance (miles/km) travelled by visitors to /from the event
  • Proportion of visitors travelling by car
  • Proportion of visitors using car-sharing schemes
  • Proportion of visitors travelling by other private modes (e.g. camper van, van, coach services and motorbike)
  • Proportion of visitors travelling by public transport (i.e. bus and rail)
  • Proportion of visitors that walk and cycle

Simple questions asking visitors to state how they travelled to the event, where they travelled from, and the number of people they travelled with can be used to assess the impact of event related travel. It may be worth asking why they decided to travel in a certain way (i.e. convenience, cost), as this can help identify potential barriers to encouraging sustainable travel in the future. Examples of visitor travel at major events in the UK are presented below. 

Visitor travel to sport and cultural events in the UK (Source: Cardiff University)


FA Cup Final (2004)

[73,000 visitors]

Rugby 6 Nations fixture (2005)

[85,499 visitors]

UK Stages Tour de France (2007) [1,900,000 visitors]

Hay Festival (2012)

[100,000 visitors]

Sŵn Festival (2016)

[2,500 visitors]

Method of travel

Percentage of total distance travelled



















Bus and Coach












43.2 million km

24.3 million km

1.39 billion km

71 million km

52,300 km

Per visitor

591 km

284 km

734 km

710 km

21 km

a Includes National Rail, London Underground and Channel Tunnel.

 bIncludes boat, camper van, cycling, ferry, motorcycle, motorhome, taxi and walking.

Advanced Measures

This element should be read in conjunction with the section which examines event-related energy use.

A more thorough measure of travel impacts considers the actual environmental impact of visitor travel, and includes both travel to/from and during an event

  • Total CO2 emissions for all event-related visitor travel
  • Total CO2 emissions for travel per visitor
  • Changes in the proportion of visitors using public transport to travel to/from event
  • Changes in the proportion of visitors driving to/from event by car


  • Rugby 6 nations >

    Rugby 6 nations ...

  • FA Cup Case Study >

    FA Cup Case Study ...

  • Hays Festival of literature and art case study >

    Hays Case Study ...

  • Tour De France >

    Tour De France case study ...

  • Wales Rally >

    Carbon Impacts of the World Rally Championship Wales Rally GB Case Study ...

  • London Freewheel >

    Environmental Implications of Participation Change at London Freewheel Case Study ...

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