Green transportation: cars versus trains and buses
The BBC’s ethical man (I refuse to capitalize this, ha) has written about green transportation and proposed that driving cars is more carbon-efficient than public transport like buses and trains “(maybe).”
Wha? Glad he plugged the “maybe” into his hypothesis!
As a flaming fan of green transportation, which for me constitutes public transport, I was shocked.
The ethical man argues that if you just “pack in extra passengers” into a car, driving becomes a form of green transportation – or relatively green – despite the rise in fuel consumption caused by the increase in weight carried by the vehicle.
I’ll buy that.
Now, he claims buses and trains are not truly forms of green transportation when compared to driving a car chock full of passengers, because buses and trains guzzle loads of gas pollute more proportionally when carrying few passengers. (Read the boring technical details here.)
While he does recognize that a full bus – especially a double-decker – or train generally pollutes less than a car, he notes that for most of the day, buses and trains travel almost empty of passengers.
But back up.
As I have lived in a bunch of different cities, let me bring up some points about green transportation beyond the UK:
In Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and Sarasota, Florida, this is the case, too (although I am seeing more and more happily hybrid buses). It’s not surprising, though, since public transport is not so popular in most of the U.S. For the most part, green transportation in this country continues to be mostly made up of bicycling, walking, and so forth, as not everyone can yet afford a hybrid or electric car (nor are they readily available yet).
But in the capital of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for example, subways and buses are, if not always full to the brim (which they are for portions of each day), almost always carry a significant amount of passengers. At night, however, buses are often rather empty (they run 24/7, I am happy to report. Okay, only sort of happy in terms of green transportation). And escalating amounts of people are resorting to bicycling to get around, largely because inflation is driving public transport (and food, etc.) prices up while salaries remain low and unemployment is high.
The good news for Florida is that a bullet train is in the works to take people from Orlando to Tampa and perhaps even down south to Miami. This would be an outstanding form of green transportation, because the only way you can travel up and down now is by car or a filthy Greyhound bus (I’ve taken them!), and it takes something like an 8-hour drive to get from the south of Florida all the way to the north. Although I will mention, I see a lot of “carpool” signs with phone numbers on the highway.
Either way, this is some deliciously hearty food for thought. And at least the urbanites among us can feel good about polluting less than, uh, ruralites?
Anyway, I’ll choose public transport over driving any day. Buses, trains, and subways are going to run anyway, at least for now, so I’ll definitely be lowering my carbon emissions by choosing them over driving.
Green transportation lovers unite!
Hmm, I wonder how subways fit into this. I take them a lot in Buenos Aires, and they are also almost always rather full.
I shall explore teh interwebz for the answers to the universe!