Check out this thought provoking blog post from Freakonomics.com. The quick summary -
- Cars carry 1.6 people on average, buses carry about 10, and rail about 25 per car.
- According to the Department of Energy’sTransportation Energy Data Book, in 2010 transporting each passenger one mile by car required 3447 BTUs of energy. Transporting each passenger a mile by bus required 4118 BTUs, surprisingly making bus transit less green by this metric. Rail transit admittedly fares better, at 2520 BTUs per passenger mile, but even this is not the kind of slam-dunk advantage over the auto that transit advocates might hope for.
Transit has the potential to be much better if they could get ridership up, but so could passenger vehicles. The post talks about the NY subway system significantly skewing the rail transit numbers. Throw in the 4 people per car requirement imposed in Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy on the passenger vehicle side of the ledger....
I'm not arguing against mass transit. Done well it can be great. The argument is to improve marginal transit service or get rid of it.
Photo Credit: JM