On Earth Day and always ‘green’ transit worth its weight in gold

Transportation provides such an essential service to society. Public transit also being a small but integral and important part of the total transportation package, here is what the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) had to say about the environmental friendliness aspect of public transit:

Biodiesel-powered bus
Biodiesel-powered bus

“In celebration of Earth Day, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reminds us that taking public transit is among the most effective ways of reducing our daily carbon footprint because of its ability to take cars off the road. In fact, when APTA examined the bus fleet alone, more than 35 percent of U.S. public transportation buses use alternative fuels or hybrid technology, as of January 1, 2011. This is a striking contrast to the 1.3 percent of automobiles that used alternative-fuels in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Outlook.”

That public transit in the U.S. is among the most Earth-friendly forms of transportation – if not the most Earth-friendly form and that in using this mode-type an average of $9,917 per individual can be saved annually, it remains an enigma that a far greater number of public transit trips aren’t being taken. Instead, automobiles are enjoying the lion’s share of mode usage with American automobile drivers registering 3-trillion-plus road miles per year.

So, on a mile-to-mile comparison basis, how does transit stack up against the motor vehicle when it comes to miles traveled?

With 10.5 billion U.S. public transportation trips logged in 2012, if, say, the average trip length per transit rider was 5 miles, then over a year’s time, totalNewOrleansHUDRedStreetcarRiverfrontCanal[1] miles traveled would be 52.5 billion. If, on the other hand, the average distance traveled per transit rider per trip was 10 miles, then total transit miles registered would be 105 billion over an entire year or equal to about 3.5 percent of total automobile miles traveled. It is my understanding that, domestically, public transit’s share is approximately 2 percent of the total automated mobility share for moving people.

“APTA noted that U.S. public transportation use saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emission every year,” declared the APTA in its “More than 35% of U.S. Public Transit Buses Use Alternative Fuels or Hybrid Technology: Public Transportation is Leading the Way in Green Vehicles” press release. “Additionally, since public transit use in the United States saves 4.7 billion gallons of gasoline annually, public transit riders are doing their part to help our nation be energy independent, according to APTA.”

Just think: The numbers would be that much more golden if more people made green automated public transportation (bus, train, etc.) their mode of choice.

Monorail train, Las Vegas, Nevada
Monorail train, Las Vegas, Nevada

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