Tootbus : Travel Business

Ed Budds
Ed Budds - Travel Editor 9 Min Read

Iconic cities inspire our imaginations, and Tootbus is ready and waiting to offer customers the opportunity to discover iconic locations across Europe through hop-on, hop-off routes and themed tours aboard a fleet of environmentally friendly double-decker buses. UK Managing Director, Gavin Brooking, tells us more.

TOOTBUS


Since 2014, Tootbus has developed hop-on, hop-off sightseeing services with open-top double-decker buses in several of the most attractive cities across the world. 

Spread over Paris, London, Windsor, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Brussels, the Tootbus team comprises around 500 passionate and committed employees who provide high standards of service, dynamism, and reliability to customers.  

The company is highly supportive of green tourism solutions and is continuously looking for ways to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment, having recently launched the first 100 percent sightseeing green fleet of buses in Brussels in 2021, with plans to simultaneously convert its vehicles in other cities.   

Tootbus customers might want to see everything in one go or break up their journey to discover the exciting and unique vibes on every street corner, meaning they can visit a city solo, with their partner, as a family, or in a large group. 

Whether you are a traveller who wants to spend just two hours, several days, or a lifetime discovering the delights of a dynamic, evolving city, Tootbus wants to create the “wow effect” for each customer and deliver life-changing, memorable moments of exploration.

Q&A WITH GAVIN BROOKING, UK MANAGING DIRECTOR, TOOTBUS

Firstly, please can you introduce us to Tootbus and your ambition to become the world’s greenest sightseeing bus company?

Gavin Brooking, UK Managing Director (GB): We are the world’s leading open-top sightseeing operator that has, and will continue to, heavily invest in sustainability in the locations where we operate.  

We have already started decarbonising our fleet, such as in London, where we have been using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for our internal combustion engine (ICE) buses since 2021.  

Tootbus is also the only sightseeing company in London to operate electric vehicles (EVs), and the oldest sightseeing company in the world, as we have been operating in the city since 1951! 

What sustainable steps are you taking in order to become the greenest sightseeing company in the world?

GB: We are the only company to operate EV buses, and we currently have four in service, with two more waiting to be retrofitted by Magtech, the UK’s leading company in this area. We plan to retrofit an additional 10 buses in the next two years, while the rest of our ICE fleet has been powered by HVO since 2021.  

Our Brussels operation is fully electric, and our Paris operation is a mix of electric and biofuel. Like London, they have an ambitious target to retrofit their remaining ICEs to electric in the coming years.  

Elsewhere, we are signatories to the Glasgow Declaration, meaning we are currently measuring our carbon footprint by using a platform called Greenly.  

Can you tell us more about the end-to-end sustainability solutions you are further investing in?

GB: We are working with VEV, a great EV infrastructure company, on the electrification of our garage in Wandsworth, where they have fitted 10 chargers for our current fleet.  

We have also submitted a planning application to Wandsworth Council to install solar panels on the roof of our garage to self-generate 100 percent clean energy that will power over 66,000 kilometres (km) for our electric buses and provide completely clean, self-generated energy to power our garage and offices. Again, this is another world and industry first! 

What major steps have you taken to decarbonise your fleet of open-top sightseeing buses?

GB: We began decarbonising our fleet in 2017, first by commissioning a pilot electrical repower bus through Magtec. We continued this throughout 2018 by introducing a brand new EV from UNVI.  

After the COVID-19 pandemic, we took the step to switch all our ICE buses to HVO, as this cut our CO2 emissions by 85 percent overnight. However, this came at a significant cost as fuel bills increased by 30 percent, but we are fully committed to reducing our impact on the environment and believe that the extra expense was well worth it.  

Last year, we continued our repowering programme and received delivery of two repowered buses, one from UNVI and one from Magtec. We will continue to repower a further 30 buses over the course of the next five years.

“Aside from our buses, we recycle most of the waste materials produced by our depot. We also recycle water through our bus wash, and even use reclaimed rainwater to run it”

Gavin Brooking, UK Managing Director, Tootbus

How will your partnerships with Magtec and VEV enable you to continue to deliver on your commitment to a truly sustainable service?

GB: We have chosen Magtec to be our repowering partner because they have over 30 years of experience in this field and boast a proven track record of producing reliable, efficient, and cost-effective repowered vehicles.  

Additionally, they produced our first pilot electric repowered vehicle in 2017, and we know that they understand the needs of our business and provide not only an excellent product, but also back that up with first-class aftersales care.  

Although VEV might be a new name to most, its team has years of experience in the energy industry and has demonstrated to us a true commitment to finding the right end-to-end electrification solutions for our business.  

This includes increasing our power supply through extended grid connection and solar power, helping extract the best value from our energy supply through bespoke charging infrastructure, smart-charging technology, and engaging directly with Magtec to link the whole system with the repowered vehicles. 

The common theme with both Magtec and VEV is that we are working in partnership rather than as customer and supplier. All three companies view the relationship as a partnership and are working towards the same ultimate goal. 

Beyond buses, what other green activities does Tootbus offer, such as self-guided walking tours?

GB: We offer a suite of self-guided walking tours called Tootwalks, which are available to our customers through our app.  

We also provide our guests with commentary through the app, which means that they can listen through their own device with their earphones, thereby reducing the impact on the environment.  

Of course, if customers want to use our earphones, then they can do so safely in the knowledge that they are produced from sustainable materials and fully recyclable.  

Aside from our buses, we recycle most of the waste materials produced by our depot. We also recycle water through our bus wash, and even use reclaimed rainwater to run it!

By Ed Budds Travel Editor
Follow:
Ed Budds is an in-house travel writer for Outlook Travel Magazine, where he is responsible for crafting original travel features for the magazine, travel guides, and the digital platform.