Different means of transportation range in energy consumption
substantially. Firstly, this set of data needs careful examination as the use of power depends on a wide variety of factors. Secondly, in our case we take an ideal circumstance for public and private transportation where cars are occupied by the maximum number of allowed people and metro, tram, trains, buses and airplane operate at their peak capacity. As a result this shows an upper limit of efficiency of these transportation modes.
Efficiency based on occupancy
When the occupancy rate drops of the different transportation modes, the efficiency changes dramatically. For instance, a car with seats for 5 passengers will became 5 times less efficient from the moment it’s solely occupied by the driver. Airplane efficiency can drop to half if the plane is only 50% full, and the same can be said for trams, trains, or buses. Therefore walking, biking or taking an electric scooter will most likely be the most efficient way of transport in real world scenarios, as the the occupancy and peak occupancy rate is always the same: one person.
Energy used for production
Another factor to take into consideration is the energy that is used to create the transportation vehicle that will move people from A to B. This is not incorporated in the infographic shown above, however it’s an important aspect. Walking does not involve any vehicle, while the power required to produce an airplane compared to a bicycle is exponentially bigger – just think of a 10 kg (22 lbs) bike and an 80,000 kg (175,000 lbs) aircraft.
You are what you eat
Your choice of food also determines how big your ecological footprint is, hence how much pollution the calories you intake produce. The food you choose has substantial impact on harmful emissions. This means the better food you eat, the less pollution you cause by walking or riding a bicycle.
Which transportation mode to choose to reduce your carbon footprint?
The occupancy rates are not always ideal in the real world, as well as the energy spent on production therefor the safest bet is to walk, ride a bicycle or an electric scooter. Walking is the most environmentally friendly considering there is no need for a vehicle and it’s the healthiest option as well.
In urban environments choose electrified means of transportation: metro, tram or electrified buses. Long distance travelling is the most eco-friendly on trains. Try to avoid driving a car alone and flying.
- Electric Scooter
An electric scooter going at 18 km/h https://blossoms.mit.edu/sites/default/files/video/download/Scooter.pdf
Bombardier T-1 Subway at peak capacity with 315 passengers
Siemens Combino at peak capacity with 180 passengers
- Electric Bus
BYD K9 fully electric bus at peak capacity with 58 passengers. It has a 1.41 kWh/km average energy consumption (annual average) in heavy city traffic
TGV Atlantique train, 220 km/h max speed at peak capacity with 485 passengers
64 kg person biking at 15 km/hr speed on a 10 kg bicycle: http://www.tribology-abc.com/calculators/cycling.htm
- Electric Car
Tesla Model 3 Long Range, riding with 5 occupants
- Maglev Train
Transrapid train in Shanghai riding at speeds of 300km/h at peak capacity with 440 passengers
64 kg person walking at an average speed of 5.63 km/h https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15570150
Diesel bus operating in Vancouver, Canada, at peak capacity with 90 passengers on board
VW Golf 1.9 Diesel Automatic, with 5 occupants inside the car
Boeing 737, peak capacity (JetBlue Airline at 83.2% load factor) with 137 passengers on board
- Sports Car
Porsche Boxster S (3.2L, 5 speed Tiptronic) with 2 occupants