Doing the maths

An environmentalist writes:

New Scientist Environment Blog: Fred's Footprint: Dirty footprints on a local bus

Seeking to lower my personal carbon footprint, I have been holidaying in southern England, not far from my London. I travelled to the South Downs by bus. What could be greener? Quite a lot, it seems…

Even assuming my Stagecoach bus manages the same fuel efficiency in the lanes of Sussex that National Express attains on motorways, it seems pretty clear that our footprint would have been less if we had rented an SUV for our jaunts. And, for our Petworth to Midhurst journey, the truth appears to be that my wife and I must have been responsible for emissions of about 300 grams of CO2 each per kilometre travelled - bigger than if we had been flying to Hong Kong.

(Not that going to Hong Kong has anything to do with it, you understand, when it comes to per kilometer calculations.)

It's nice to see someone tell it like it is. The sad truth is, the vast majority of the buses I see every day are practically empty—which pretty much destroys their supposedly green credentials. And as for their 'fighting congestion', that's a load of old bollocks too: what do you think it is that causes the congestion in the first place by having their own dedicated lanes or stopping every couple of hundred yards to take on or let off minuscule numbers of passengers?

Don't get me wrong: buses are a vital part of our (pretty dire) transport infrastructure, but let's stop harping on about how green they are.


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