Why moving guests is all about going green
They might not feature highly in venues’ marketing material, but people movers are the workhorses of many parks and attractions, ensuring the smooth transition of guests throughout the day, or returning them to their cars at the close of play. In many cases they can also be an enjoyable ride in themselves. From land trains to monorails, and a few unusual variations in between, Park World examines what the market has to offer, and finds that green issues are key to many recent improvements.
“Both as a visitor attraction and for practical reasons, the majority of parks do require some kind of people mover,” notes Patrick Lamb of Severn-Lamb in the UK, which supplies a range of high-spec rail trains in addition to road trains and custom monorails. “The people mover may be purely functional in moving guests from A to B, or offered as an integral part of the visitor experience.”
“Most parks have people movers,” concurs Larry Breitenstein, national sales director for trams and entertainment at Chance Morgan. “Especially those parks where there is a lot of walking.”
Guests are less likely to want to walk in “Asia, the USA and the Arabic countries,” according to Philipp Meili of Swiss Rides. In addition to offering a range of monorails, he recently formed a new company, Swiss Trains, to take care of the Tschu-Tschu product range.
Land train specialist Dotto Trains supplies its products to a wide range of facilities. They can often be seen, for example, ferrying passengers up and down the promenade in seaside resorts, as well as in inner cities, shopping malls, amusement parks and other tourist hotspots. “We have some clients that also use the trains as a side business to advertise for local attractions, restaurants etc,” notes the company’s Sabrina Carraro.
People movers need to be comfortable, easy to get on and off (especially for disabled guests) and, as they run all day long, reliable. According to Breitenstein, “good maintenance and operational training,” are key to a smooth operation.
“Just like a normal car, the running costs depend on the maintenance carried out,” adds Carraro. Lamb agrees: “Quicker, more regular maintenance often avoids costly unforeseen problems later. Alternative fuels such as liquid petroleum gas, diesel or electric can also play a significant part in reducing operational costs.”
Newer products such as Dotto’s Green Express (pictured above) run on battery power, eliminating all fuel emissions. Such improvements are good for the environment, but beneficial to the operator too. Lower noise emissions, for example, mean the trains can be used for indoor applications. Whatever their customer’s reason for choosing them, most manufacturers report growing demand for greener people moving products.
“Very often it is the client who is driving the green agenda,” notes Lamb. “Our single largest improvement in recent years has been harnessing the power of sustainable energy sources such as electric in the form of batteries and conductor rails.”
Melli believes people movers will have an even greater role to play in the coming years as parks and attractions seek to encourage their guests to arrive by greener means. “It will be very important to promote public transport in the near future, so the park operators will need some sort of connection between public transport and their park. Many already have their own transport terminals at the park.”
Though they may have started in the attractions business, many suppliers are now finding work outside it. One of Severn-Lamb’s more unusual commissions, for example, was a moving stage for the 2004 Olympic opening ceremony in Athens. The unit ran the entire circumference of the Olympic stadium carrying all the flag-waving athletes and officials.
“A few years ago,” remembers Carraro, “we realised a train for a farm in Massachusetts that offers guided tours. The train was produced with special baskets in front of the seats so people could put the fruit they picked as they went around the farm.”
Or how about the American supplier Trams International, which not only has its electric trams in use at a number of dairy farms across the United States, but also several waste water facilities too?