Restarting aviation in a more sustainable way is a key consideration as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. With huge pressure on airports to reduce emissions, the ways in which people and goods access the airport by road, public transport and active travel - surface access - is one of the main areas that airports can influence decarbonisation.
In 2018, emissions from surface access accounted for 33% of Heathrow’s emissions, making it a key consideration in its ambitious sustainability strategy. Moreover, surface access at Heathrow is critical for its operations and is a key component of the overall passenger experience.
Heathrow commissioned Arup to produce a first of its kind travel report to understand surface access travel patterns and to measure progress against its sustainability goals. Arup’s scope covered the end to end process, from shaping the report, procuring and analysing data, through to report production. Heathrow has since used the report to develop evidence-based surface access plans that help improve the sustainability and overall experience of airport surface access journeys.
13million trips analysed
80millionpassengers in 2019
190,000+landside vehicle trips a day
Delivering new insights through machine learning
We worked closely with Heathrow to define the key surface access metrics and understand how they will support and shape Heathrow’s sustainability strategy. Our aim was to build a data-driven evidence base of travel patterns using modern data sources and employing advanced analytics techniques that provide robust and accurate measurements. We used a range of data sources, including Heathrow’s internal data, data purchased from independent providers, and other publicly available data.
This work has delivered insights that had previously not been available to Heathrow, either due to the lack of data available or inherent gaps in existing analyses. Our analysis provided detailed insights into road traffic levels in and around the airport by analysing over 13 million trips gathered from Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. In addition, our team of data science experts developed a machine learning approach to identify private hire vehicles (PHVs) from ANPR data.
This dataset has provided Heathrow with new detail about driving patterns and vehicle mix at the airport to inform the development of data-driven surface access plans.
Arup worked collaboratively with us to deliver novel insights into our surface access operations by using modern data sources and cutting edge data science techniques. The 2019 Travel Report has provided a data-driven evidence base of surface access travel patterns, helping us develop plans to enhance the sustainability and overall experience of airport journeys.” Timothy Wells Surface Access Travel & Policy Lead, Heathrow Airport Limited
A repeatable and robust flow of data
It is envisioned that the report will be updated periodically so that trends in surface access travel behaviour are monitored, and progress against sustainability targets can be measured. We have set up the data pipelines, algorithms and data sources needed to repeat this analysis for the next report, which will be essential as travel volumes begin to change.
The Travel Report provides Heathrow’s stakeholders with transparency around the demand of surface access at Heathrow and allows them to work closely together to improve travel to and from the airport for passengers, employees, and goods. It is acting as a catalyst for change to inspire a more sustainable future for the airport using data-driven insights to shape strategies.