Bus Plan Backfires

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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2 Responses to “Bus Plan Backfires”

  1. CreditcardPlayer Says:

    To change a car for a bus is really not enough. It’s like throwing trash into buckets instead of dropping it down on earth – that doesn’t solve the pollution problem. It just indulges yourself.

  2. Serene Says:

    I’m new to blogging, so excuse the late comment.

    I live in Lebanon, a country were public busses are burnt on their routes because they put other small private transportation vans out of business. I really to believe that public transportation reduces pollution, especially with an increased number of passengers.

    Similarly, roads in my county are rather narrow; i mean the biggest highway is a maximum of 3 lanes. So you can only imagine how rush hours are when more than half the cars have 1 occupant.

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