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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Interesting mileage data

On an energy list I subscribe to (sf-bay-oil) an fellown named Earl Killian did a bunch of research on the actual mpg of various forms of transportation. The data follows. Basically, trains, as they are presently implemented, are not as efficient as one might think.

From his post:

The good news is that I dug up yet more efficiency data, which shows that some mass transit can be pretty efficient. I found a reference which claims they measured BART energy use and passenger miles for two weeks and computed 136 MPG, which is pretty good (a fair bit better than a Prius, and a lot better than the Amtrak commuter rail numbers). Better numbers were claimed for BART rush hour use, but for the same reason as above, I think you need to look at the global picture. BART is of course electric, like the RAV4-EV (176 MPG at 1.57 load factor). Even better is SBB, the Swiss Rail system: 279 MPG. (It is also electric, and their electricity is primarily hydro, so little greenhouse gas emissions there.)

Transportation MPG, single Load MPG at
passenger Factor Load Electric?

Automobiles (ICE) 22.2 1.57 35
Personal trucks 17.9 1.72 31
Motorcycles 45.1 1.22 55
Transit buses 9.1 30
Airlines 95.8 34
Intercity trains 14.0 26
Commuter trains 33.5 46
Prius HEV (2006) 55 1.57 86 Partial
TGV 128 Yes
BART 136 Yes
Hypercar 90 1.57 141 Yes
RAV4-EV 112 1.57 176 Yes
Tesla 135 1.22 165 Yes
Walking 235 1 235
SBB (Swiss Rail) 279 Yes
Bicycling 653 1 653

I am wondering where an ebike fits into all of this. when I find out I'll post that. What is startling is how lousy the trains fair. It could be that they do poorly because they are so underutilised and have a great deal of embedded energy, but I could be wrong... More soon.

Interesting work. I'd like to know more about sources, though. I admit that I'm a little skeptical of the figures given. Is the RAV4-EV really that close to the Tesla (the most efficient car ever built) in terms of single-passenger mileage?
Dear Stuart,

Please consider removing your link to It's an exact copy of my blog and looks like it's squatting someone elses domain to link to adult websites (bottom of the page).

Sorry I had to leave a comment on this as I couldn't find your email.

I'm in agreement with you on this post. I think rail networks should go all electric asap and that electric cars are the way forward (not ethanol or hydrogen).

And write some new posts!! This is one of the most important issues facing humanity.

Alternative Energy Blog
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