The Straight Dope: Transit Doesn’t Save Energy

As the Rio Grande Foundation and our guest speakers like John Charles (from Portland, OR) have pointed out, transit, despite its green reputation, is not as energy efficient as its backers would like us to believe. This includes Governor Richardson’s beloved Rail Runner.

It is understandable, of course, that greens and other backers of transit don’t buy what we have to say. But, when I picked up a copy of the Albuquerque Alibi last week, I found a very interesting article from The Straight Dope. If you aren’t familiar with it, Straight Dope is a “mythbuster” column that attempts to get to the heart of reality on various topics. There is no conservative bias but the truth. Well, the column which can be found here and clearly backs up the assertion that mass transit simply does not save energy.

The author’s conclusion is in his own words here:

On the face of it, then, transit currently offers no energy advantage over cars except in the handful of cities with heavy rail — and not all of those. (Chicago’s an outlier.) Estimates of auto efficiency vary depending on how many passengers you assume they’re carrying, so I won’t say transit is an energy loser. Instead I’ll agree with O’Toole: from an energy perspective, transit vs. cars is pretty much a wash.

Good to see independent sources verifying our data!