Mass Transit and Energy Use

The Anti-Planner argues that mass transit will never be energy efficient, mainly because it is virtually impossible to improve occupancy.  The arguments for transit saving money all tend to include the line "will be efficient when occupancies increase" but he shows pretty clearly why that is probably not going to happen.

Also note pages 2-15 and 2-16 of this report.  Compare the trends of auto and airline energy intensity with rail and bus.  While cars and planes have decreased their energy use per passenger mile by quite a bit, rail has been flat and buses have been getting worse.  In fact, auto transit became more energy efficient than buses twenty years ago and continues to get better.   Airline travel has become nearly as energy efficient as Amtrak.

  • DrTorch

    You write, "While cars and planes have decreased their energy use per passenger mile by quite a bit, rail has been flat ... Airline travel has become nearly as energy efficient as Amtrak."

    Isn't the obvious answer to dedicate more (public) research funds to improve train efficiencies?

  • Matthew Brown

    Mass transit is poorly justified by energy-efficiency. There are other reasons why in certain times and places it's worthwhile.

    For one thing, for populations who do not possess cars; the poor, the urban (for whom car ownership is prohibitively expensive because of the need for permanent parking), those unable to drive (disabled, sick, elderly, etc).

    When the demand for transportation is greater than the provided road capacity and it's hard to add road capacity (commutes to urban areas with heavy employment density).

    Where land for parking is hard to come by (again, urban areas).

    Where it's desired to export the pollution by using electrically-powered means of transportation (again, dense urban areas).

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    Cross-posted over at A-P:

    In my libtard-filled college town, the buses run quite quite regularly -- as often as every 15 mins at some times of the day (ridership for college students is "free", being heavily subsidized by a portion of a fee, purportedly excised to pay for Student Government, and its sponsored events and activities ("ASFAC" -- Activity and Service Fee). This fee amounts to $13.94 per semester hour (out of $168.15 -- 8.3%). Now, since they are "free", and parking for students is generally designed to be a massive pain in the rectal orifice, lots of students take advantage of it, and the buses DO have a fairly high occupancy rate during daytime hours (I would not venture a serious claim but I would say probably 20-40 people at all times of day).

    Now, one thing I would point out, though... these buses reduce general traffic efficiency substantially -- they stop quite regularly, run on (often overcrowded -- this is a libtard town, you know, and thus roads are Not To Be Expanded) two-lane roadways, which they very, very rarely pull off of to pick up or drop off riders.

    This means that each bus often has, trailing behind it, a line of 30-40 cars operating, for a time, in the same start-stop pattern as the bus. Now, a question comes to mind -- does any energy-saved calculation regarding these buses include any effort to deal with the massively reduced efficiency rate of the trailing cars?

    Is it safe to say "F*** no!"?

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > Isn’t the obvious answer to dedicate more (public) research funds to improve train efficiencies?

    I think the obvious answer is to dedicate more public funds to lining bureaucrats up against a wall and shooting them.

    A certain percentage of the populace is sure to disagree. All evidence points to their being in the vest-pockets of bureaucrats, however, so they can be safely ignored....

    :^D

  • Dave

    Energy efficiency may not matter if transit can use non-imported and/or alternative fuels. Natural gas, ethanol and electric buses, trucks and trains could become widespread a decade or more before most of the automobile fleet switches over.

  • Dan Smith

    You've probably seen it, but here is a link to a Robert Samuelson piece on high speed rail. Great minds think alike.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/01/high-speed_pork_107785.html

  • Allen

    "Isn’t the obvious answer to dedicate more (public) research funds to improve train efficiencies?" -DrTorch

    That is assuming that more efficiencies can be found from an 18th century technology. At that it's questionable if any can be found via government research. Of rail effeciences gained during the last 50 years a whopping zero can be attributed to government research. In fact, if anything the government's done quite the opposite. They fought against larger cars that could carry heavier loads, they stiffeled unit trains, they didn't come up with DPUs nor CTC, et al.