Monday, January 13, 2014

All aboard? Why you should dump the hippie bus

It turns out that the University of Michigan has a Transportation Research Institute, and that Professor Michael Sivak has been doing some comparative research on various modes of transportation. Unfortunately, cost is not included in the released measurements; Sivak concentrates on BTU per person mile.

Obviously, when you measure things in person miles, airlines (which travel many miles per flight) end up being favored, and much of the report concentrates on the relative values of airlines versus light duty autmotive vehicles (including SUVs and vans). Airlines came out ahead, at 2,691 BTUs per person mile, compared to 4,218 per person mile for light duty vehicles.

However, both modes of transportation have improved over the 1970-2010 period studied by Sivak:

While the energy intensities of both driving and flying have steadily decreased over the last 40 years, the improvement for flying has been substantially greater than driving—74 percent versus 17 percent.

But before you don your environmentally friendly hemp duds and board the plane, don't forget all of the pollution brouhaha over airplanes. Oh, and one more thing - airlines aren't the best mode of transportation, BTU per person mile-wise.

Other modes of transportation: Amtrak trains (1,668), motorcycles (2,675) and transit buses (3,347).

All aboard?
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