Transportation is one of the largest users of energy in our society. If you break down transportation even further you will find that privately owned vehicles are the largest users of energy within the transportation sector. Privately owned vehicles are vehicles owned by people like you and me.
Our society’s infrastructure is largely dependent on people owning their own vehicle. With the exception of some major cities, public transportation is either non-existent or is dismal at best. Unfortunately, the United States hasn’t built a very robust public transportation like many other countries in the world. Typically public transportation in only located around large cities and there is no form of public transportation for longer travels (with the exception of Amtrak). If you live in a large city then you typically have some options for public transportation:
- Rail and Train
Public Bus Transportation
Bus systems are very common in cities, even some smaller cities. Buses offer a good use of resources because you have one bus transporting several people. This cuts back on energy usage and many bus systems offer decent travel times. If you can ride the bus it will help save energy and can save you money too. Often time’s bus fares are very reasonable because tax dollars partially fund most bus systems. Another small benefit is the reduced wear and tear on your vehicle.
Public Rail and Train Transportation
Rail and train transit systems are typically found only in large cities, like Chicago or San Francisco. Most of the time these rail systems are located within a large city and possibly the cities suburbs. This form of transportation is very efficient. Rail systems offer fast transportation times; the ability to transport many people and they typically operate on efficient energy systems using electricity. I have personally used the Chicago rail system several years ago on a trip and I found it to be a very nice system. If I lived in that area I could easily see myself using this system for the majority of my in city travel.
Public Taxi Transportation
Taxis are another form of public transit but they are generally privately funded. I suppose there might be some minute gain in efficiency when compared to everyone driving themselves but this still uses inefficient vehicles to transport just a single person. The fact that taxis can reduce the amount of vehicles on the road, seems to be the only significant positive to the taxi system. Several taxi services are looking into increasing fuel efficiency by using hybrid vehicles. This might make the taxi system more efficient but, one can argue that hybrids require more energy to produce than a typical vehicle in the first place. Also, from my experience taxis usually are not very price competitive so, this makes this a last choice in my book.
Public Water Transportation
Water transportation is very limited and is a niche form of transportation. When it is available though it can be a good choice both economically and environmentally. The major downfall that I can see with water transportation is speed. From my personal experiences, most water systems, like ferries, are relatively slow.
So what should you do if you find yourself out of reach of public transportation?
That we will discuss with my next post.