Save the earth, ride a bus

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It’s time to go green! No, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day, silly. Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day! It’s a day to celebrate our efforts to protect the environment. So, what can you do to save the environment? There are lots of small ways to help. Recycle. Use energy efficient light bulbs. Install low-flow toilets in your home, to conserve water usage. Fluff up the insulation in your attic to cut down on your heat and air conditioning use. Compost. But if you really want a simple but very effective way to honor Mother Nature this Earth Day, take public transit.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, our personal motor vehicles are a major cause of climate change. Collectively, these cars and trucks account for approximately one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Because public transportation, by definition, moves more people with fewer vehicles, public transit can substantially reduce the amount of carbon discharged into the atmosphere. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has determined that per passenger mile, public transportation produces significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than private vehicles. The agency estimates that heavy rail, such as subways and metros, produces the largest emissions savings – 76%, followed by light rail at 62%. Buses are big savers, too. On average they emit 33% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a single occupancy vehicle.  And if your City is deploying a hybrid fleet or using electric power or biogas– well good for them, that’s where the real impact is noted.

In fact, trading in your car for public transit is one of the most effective ways to give Mother Nature a helping hand. For a typical two-car family, car travel accounts for 47% of its carbon footprint – by far its largest single source of carbon emissions. On average, a car produces just slightly less than one pound of carbon dioxide per passenger mile. Therefore, if just one driver in each household opted to commute to work via public transportation rather than driving alone (assuming a commuting distance of ten miles each way), the FTA estimates that household could cut its annual emissions by 4,627 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. For the average American household, that results in an annual 8.1% reduction in pollution. It is the most significant environmental impact a household can make – more consequential than replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents or re-insulting the attic.

Need more convincing?

The state of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says riding the bus is more environmentally friendly than driving even if the bus isn’t fully occupied. It has determined that a bus with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than the average single-occupancy vehicle. A bus filled to capacity produces even greater benefits. The fuel efficiency of a fully occupied bus is six times greater than a car occupied by a single person.  And not only is public transit more fuel efficient, it reduces air pollution. The department has determined that compared to a single occupancy vehicle, the average bus emits 20% as much carbon monoxide, 10% as many hydrocarbons and 76% as many nitrogen oxides.

And as technology improves, buses are becoming even more environmentally appealing. For example, Western Kentucky University is celebrating Earth Day by converting one of its campus shuttles to biodiesel. The shuttle will run on 100% cooking oil that was previously used by the university cafeteria to cook French fries and chicken nuggets. And, in France, RATP Group is leading several electric bus projects. By 2025, it plans to convert over 3500 Paris buses into a 100% ecological fleet, including 80% electric buses. This will reduce RATP’s carbon footprint by 50%.

So, shimmy into that Spandex jumpsuit, don that billowing cape, and slip on your eye mask this Earth Day because You can be a Superhero. You, yes you, can be the caped crusader who saves the world … just by using your super powers of taking a seat on the bus. Okay, the costume is optional, but just imagine how much fun you’ll having wearing it on the bus.

Now go save the earth…we will all benefit from it!!

Photo Source: pixabay.com

Brent Leland