How to Go Green: Public Transportation
Public transportation, while maybe not as enjoyable as commuting in your own personal vehicle, does ease congestion, reduce emissions, and give you plenty of quality time to people watch, as well as get to know your "neighbors." In addition, public transportation allows you to relax, read or nap during that commute instead of fighting and stressing and feeling the road rage.
So, what do we mean by public transportation? Well, for this article we are focusing on buses, trains, planes and ferries/boats, whether used for the daily commute or just to get around. For those of you interested in leaving that car at home, these tips discuss the merits of public transportation as well as offer suggestions for how to expand and improve public transportation in your community.
|Top Public Transportation Tips||Public Transportation: By the Numbers|
|Transportation Footprint Quiz||Where to Get Public Transportation Resources|
|Public Transportation: From the Archives||Further Reading on Public Transportation|
Top Public Transportation Tips
- A (hu)man with a PlanIf you're not sure you can do the public transportation thing, start small with one a goal of taking public transportation at least one day a week until you figure out the system. Before you know it, you'll be making friends and riding along with everyone else.
- Come Fly With MeTry to reduce the number of plane trips you take and try not to use a plane for any trips under 1000km. Plane trips are way more environmentally destructive than automobile trips.
- Get On the BusWrite to your city representatives to request that your community upgrade their diesel buses to fleets of LNG or biodiesel buses. This will reduce the CO2 emissions generated, reduce dependence on imported oil dependency, and in the case of biodiesel engines actually run cleaner and more efficient than petrochemical diesel.
- Try the bus or train for longer tripsBuses, trains, light rail and ferries generally have dedicated travel paths that are quicker than sitting alone in your car, which can cut down travel times.
- Walk to schoolMost children live close enough to walk school, but few do. Instead of driving your children the few blocks, walk with them or allow them to take the school bus. Take it step further by helping organize a walking bus for other kids in your neighborhood.
- Catch a taxiReally these are a form of public transport because you don't own them, and when you don't need the service they are made available for others to use. Look out for hybrid or pedi-cab taxis for an even greener option.
- TelecommuteDon't drive to the office, or fly to that conference, if you can arrange to complete your work/presentation electronically, or via video conferencing. Video conferencing can reduce 99 percent of the energy used for a trans-continental flight.
- Buy fare saver ticketsReturn, weekly/monthly, or off-peak bus/train tickets are often significantly cheaper than single ride tickets, which will encourage you to use said bus/train more often.
- Plan your tripObtain timetable and route-maps for your journey to know what to expect in advance. Many municipal public transport systems now have free online databases than will take your staring point and destination and calculate the fastest times and best route for your trip. This can take the uncertainty out of public transport travel.
- Be a Change AgentIf you don't use public transport in your local area because the service doesn't work for you, for whatever reason, then get it changed. Write letters to your city newspaper, comment on their online stories that address urban travel, join a public transport advocacy group, and meet with your local government representative. Things won't change, until you inform people you want them to.
Public Transportation: By the Numbers
- 14 million: Americans that take public transportation daily.
- 40 percent: Reduction in U.S. reliance on foreign oil that would occur if one in ten Americans used public transportation daily.
- 79: Number of times safer that riding a bus is over riding in your own automobile.
- 855: Millions of gallons saved (equal to 45 million barrels of oil) from people taking public transportation each year. This is roughly the energy needed to power ¼ of all American homes annually.
- 6,000: Difference in pounds of global warming pollution that a diesel school bus emits over a natural gas school bus.
- 20 percent: Carbon monoxide emissions saved if one in five Americans rode public transportation daily; the savings would be greater than the combined emissions from all chemical manufacturing and metal processing industries.
Transportation Footprint QuizBack To Top Λ
Where to Get Public Transportation ResourcesPublic Transportation has tons of info and resources, including a carbon footprint and transit savings calculators.
Google Transit has over 60 major cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. on its transit-mapping service, from Albany to Walla Walla, including the cost and approximate ride time for each trip.
Climate Care has more info on how your transportation affects climate change, and sells offsets to combat it.
Clif Bar's Cool Tags are a cool way to do your part to stop climate change.
Public Transportation: From the ArchivesDig deeper into these articles on public transportation from the TreeHugger and Planet Green archives.How to Go Green: Commuting will help you go green while you get to work, on public transportation or otherwise.
Get some tips for hopping on the bus and starting to ride public transportation.
Ready to take the next step? Here's how to throw away your keys and live car-free.
Learn to ride the internet to work and telecommute from home.
Treehugger recently asked readers to chime in on whether and how they have reduced their dependence on cars. Some of the strategies are pretty creative while others are really informed critiques on plans devoted to improve travel which are doing anything but.
Taxis are a smaller form of public transportation, and even they are getting in on the hybrid act.
Alternative fuel buses are popping up all over the world, including biodiesel buses in Toronto, diesel hybrid buses in London, hydrogen buses at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Games in Berlin, and Volvo plans to begin producing hybrid trucks and buses.
Train travel is better than flying, well, from an emissions standpoint it is and it's a lot more peaceful. Japan has even begun converting its diesel-electric trains to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. That's the spirit.
Public Transportation Maps: Google is now offering public transportation maps for cities, beginning with Portland, OR and with more cities to follow.
Ferries: San Francisco may soon have a new attraction - 600-passenger hybrid-electric Solar Sailors to ferry people back and forth to Alcatraz. These ships come complete with solar wings, which cut fuel needs in half. The other plan is to use these aquatankers ship water to drought-plagued areas of Australia. While Staten Island ferries are being retrofitted to reduce particulate and Nox emissions.
Further Reading on Public TransportationIn addition to Treehugger.com, other organizations have put together resources that may be helpful as you continue to green your life.
For more information on public transportation options and ballot initiatives in your community, see this interactive map provided by Center for Transportation Excellence.
The American Public Transit Association is an organization that champions riding public transportation.
Google Curitiba, Brazil for a wealth of information on a city that is a leader in putting public transportation above private transportation. Their rapid bus transit system has allowed fast, efficient public transportation to dominate.
George Monbiot article, "Flying is Dying." - flying is really destructive on the planet, namely it is highly destructive when it comes to the amount of emissions it produces, thus leading to global warming.
ChooseClimate.org allows you to calculate your CO2 emissions for any flight around the world.
Climate Action Network Europe provides a comparison of several modes of public transportation and how widely used they are among European countries.
Climate Care is partnering with British Airways to cover carbon emissions from air travel.