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Monday, January 24, 2005

The Better Way?

Riding the TTC bus on the way home from work today, I noticed an advertisement encouraging people to take public transporation. Specifically, it claimed that doing so would save you time, money, hassle, and the environment. Being a regular rider, I thought I'd examine whether that claim is true. Time- In most cases, this is not true. Taking the TTC will not save people time. It takes me anywhere from 50 - 75 minutes to get to work while that same trip would take 20 - 30 mintues by car. This is because I have to walk to/from the bus stops (at both ends), take two bus lines thus waiting for two buses to arrive at a bus stop (and quite often, they are late), and be subjected to stopping at every stop which one doesn't get in a car. The only time the TTC would be faster would be in cases where someone has fairly direct access to the subway line and was going downtown during rush hour. Money- For the most part this is true. Last year, the TTC published a free pamphlet that tried to explain exactly how much one would save each month over taking the car. However, how that pamphlet made its case was very off the mark. For example, at one point, it tried to factor in how much the average car insurance would cost per month. That makes no sense since if a person owned a car and took the bus instead they would still have to pay insurance. It only would make sense if one compared costs of actually driving the car, e.g. gas and maintenance. It also makes the assumption, as does every other point here, that a person owns a car in the first place. One cannot save money on the expense of something one does not own in the first place. Thus, in my case, where I don't own a car, I don't save any money at all. Of course, that would render every point moot. Hassle - I don't understand why anyone would think that taking more than twice the time to get to where one is going, waiting in the freezing cold for a bus that is late, shoehorned into a crowded bus with a bunch of noisy teens on there way to school is considered less hassle than your own private vehicle. Where you get to sit down. On a padded seat. And listen to your own radio station. And go when and where you want. Environment - I suppose that this is true. Giving up the use of many cars and instead using a single bus would translate into less polution, despite the fact that a single bus is a bigger pollutant and a single car. It also assumes on average how many people on the bus are there as a matter of neccessity (like me) or are there because they are taking it as an alternative to driving their car.

2 Comments:

  • A recent British study shows that trains - including subway trains - are one of the most polluting forms of transport in existance. The electricity that runs them is generated (in Ontario at least) in the most part by coal burning power plants. On a rider by rider basis, factored in annually, it works out to be 2 to 3 times more polluting to use trains than to have each commuter in a separate private car (particularly modern vehicles with pollution control).

    The study didn't say anything about buses.

    I'd also be interested to know if public transit is a major vector in trasmission of disease. Cough, cough.

    LOL. I think I'll stick to my old junker, rather than cram into a bus or subway train.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:27 PM  

  • I remember yet another ad that came out last year where they made the argument that buses were better for the environment. In that ad, they compared the average number of people on a single bus and compared that to an equivalent number of cars. They argued that the single bus was less polluting.
    However, my argument is the following (which I alluded to in my post):
    If someone doesn't have a car to begin with, then they shouldn't be factored in since the environment doesn't save in pollutants. This would be a sizable number of people on every bus.
    Similarly, there are many who ride the bus who do own a car but their spouses/family members are driving instead. In that case, they also shouldn't be factored in since the environment doesn't save.
    Only those people on a bus who own a car and the car sits idle in a driveway or parking lot because they are using public transportation should be factored in.
    When someone does that, I would still think that the environment ends up saving but it would not be by a significant amount as one may think.

    By Blogger Avrom, at 5:14 PM  

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