Energy per passenger-mile

From Chapter 2 of the “Transportation Energy Databook” from the US department of Energy (with slight format changes).  The Commercial air numbers maybe high do to freeloading cargo.


Thousand BTU/Passenger Mile
4.2 Public Transit Buses
3.9 Personal trucks
3.4 Cars
3.3 Commercial Air
3.0 Rail - commuter
2.8 Rail - transit
2.6 Rail - intercity
2.2 Motorcylces
1.3 Vanpool

My motorcycle/scooter riding friends may continue to gloat. And no this is not an excuse to to drive rather than take the bus, since adding you to a bus costs about zero btu/mile; and of course motorcyclists who ride in packs should get a car.

5 thoughts on “Energy per passenger-mile

  1. ian holsman

    It would be interesting if you could find the stats on average occupancy rates for the vehicle types, and show them how it divided by #people it transports as well.

  2. bhyde

    I’m still chortling at the idea that patriotic or environmentally aware motorcycle gangs should form van pools. Think of all the beer they can buy with the money they save on insurance.

    The table I pulled those numbers from has the average of that occupancy distribution. I’d not have guessed that it’s 1.57 passengers per car; but since those loads are probably closer to one. Table 2.12 in chapter 2 of the latest report. 1.2 for motorcycles, 96 for planes, 24 for trains, 8.8 for buses.

    Fun fact: recreational boating uses three times the fuel of the all our buses.

  3. Santiago Gala

    Interesting. I guess the low occupancy rate for buses is courtesy the low population density and high car ownership rate in the States. I guess they are way higher in Europe, as even in the lightly populated Spain it is difficult for me to remember when was the last time that I was in the bus with less than 7 other people. Even counting the 3h15 nightly… Madrid la nuit! we call night buses “buhos”/owls.

    BTW, I sold my car almost one year ago, and I’m no longer taking a lot of planes, so today I got surprised when I found in the newspaper that my lifestyle is currently “highly compromised” with energy saving. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Why are so many conservatives against improving public transit? - Politics and Other Controversies -Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - Page 10 - City-Data Forum

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