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February 27, 2016

Does Mass Transit Actually Save Energy? Maybe Not! [CBD]

Light rail, high speed trains, and the newest idiocy here in NY...a street car for Brooklyn and Queens...they are all unalloyed great things in the eyes of government. So what if they actually don't save any energy, and cost orders of magnitude more than the proven technology of the automobile. Coyoteblog is quite the contrarian when it comes to government investment in most things, and mass transit is one of his favorite targets. As he points out:

The key issue turns out to be occupancy -- how full is the train or bus. And it turns out that occupancy is probably lower than most people think. That is because everyone rides on buses or trains as they commute -- they are going in the direction of most people's travel at the time of day they travel, so the transit is totally full. But no one thinks about those trains having to go back the other direction, usually mostly empty. As a result, we get to this fact, from the National Transit Database as synthesized by Randal O'Toole.

2014 Energy Use per Passenger Mile

Transit: 3141 BTU
Driving: 3144 BTU

Valley Metro Rail here in Phoenix does better, at a reported 1885 BTU per passenger mile. As reported many times here on this site, the cost of building this rail line, now well over one and a half billion dollars, would easily have bought every round trip rider a new Prius, with a lot of money left over. This would have saved more energy as well. Buses in Phoenix are averaging just over 6000 BTU per passenger mile.

That's most of his post, but head over there and read it and follow his links. The actual data, as opposed to the pie-in-the-sky projections produced by biased government planners, are damning.

We do have one system that works quite well: the American freight rail system is efficient and fast. But that's because that pesky thing called "The Market" is allowed to control its success or failure.


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posted by Open Blogger at 11:15 AM

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