Monday, December 13, 2010

Stats on Energy Use

I was roaming across the Internet and found a blog that was talking about how buses are less efficient than cars because they are always empty. The author suggested that transit was therefore pointless, a waste of money, and the private auto was the solution. Yeah, anyway... I thought I'd do a little research of my own. The US Department of Energy has a 385 page book called "Transportation Energy Data Book". On page 64, there is a chart on vehicle energy efficiency. BTU's per vehicle mile for an "average" car in 2008 was 5,465 and 6,830 for a light-truck. An average bus is 39,906 BTU's per vehicle mile. I talked to TransLink and they told me that "our research and analysis found that the average system-wide capacity utilization over a 24 hour period is approximately 84% i.e. over a given time period 84% of the seats we supply are being used by customers." Let's be very conservative and use the number of 44 seats per bus. The does not include the longer articulated buses. So that's 36 seats on every bus on average being filled. Do some quick math and we get the number of 1109 BTU's per passenger mile on a bus.

Metro Vancouver BTU's per Passenger Mile
SOV Car: 5,465
SOV Light Truck: 6,830
Transit Bus: 1,109

So maybe in a small town cars many be more efficient, but in large region like our there really is no comparison.


Greg McKone said...

Energy is mispelled in the article's title. Engery*

Nathan Pachal said...

what typo? ;-)