Archive for May, 2007

Bus Plan Backfires

May 26, 2007

bus.jpegThe saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In the case of my plan to combat global warming by taking the bus, the saying applies more literally than usual.

I looked into the fuel efficiency of mass transit buses and found some surprising data. According to the U.S. government’s 2005 Transportation Energy Data Book, buses use more energy on average per passenger mile than cars—even more than SUVs! These are actual averages, based on the average car load of 1.57 persons, and the average bus load of 8.7 passengers. If you look at the bus vs. a person driving a car alone, buses are more energy efficient—but not much (only about 34%).

This led me to an interesting paradox: my own efforts to take the bus will make a difference. I can measure my CO2 savings in pounds. However, if everybody took the bus, it wouldn’t help so much. The MBTA would react to increased ridership by adding routes and frequencies until they hit their target average load (whatever that is).

The bright side of the bus, if there is one, is that mass transit does good for society in ways other than reducing carbon emissions: it reduces congestion, and it provides transportation for people who cannot afford cars. However, for the sake of fuel efficiency, I am currently tuning up my bicycle.

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Adventures on the Bus

May 24, 2007

mbta_bus.jpgBecause of global warming, I have been taking the bus as much as possible instead of driving. This gives me plenty of time to think about…what’s wrong with MBTA buses!

The Charlie Card system works great—except for people who don’t have them. As people board the bus, it takes just 2 seconds to pay a fare with a Charlie Card. Those paying with cash hold up the bus for as much as a minute while they fumble with their bills and try to get the machine to accept them. It is really annoying!

Can’t someone invent a bill acceptor that will take a crumpled up bill?