Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

Re: Transit and energy intensity comment 000

One thing that would affect these figures is that US rail is far more energy intensive than the rest of the world. The US idea of a commuter train is often some huge heavy thing with its own specific locomotive, compared to the "bus-on-rails" idea in Europe for example, with an underbody engine. I think the USA could use a fraction of the energy running public transit, if they wanted. Even US buses are much heavier and bigger-engine than European for example. So this would affect these figures..........

Comment on Transit and energy intensity comment 000
by Nick D

Comments:

If anyone had these kinds of numbers for other countries, that would be awesome.

The US idea of a commuter train is often some huge heavy thing with its own specific locomotive, compared to the "bus-on-rails" idea in Europe for example, with an underbody engine.

"Transit rail" has an underbody engine, and does worse than commuter rail (though probably for other reasons). I think US transit rail uses essentially the same vehicles as in Europe, but I don't really know.

Even US buses are much heavier and bigger-engine than European for example.

For some reason we are very reluctant to run small buses. I'm not sure why; I suspect just to make the fleet more homogeneous, and because like every other kind of transit the people making these decisions don't care about the energy use. People in the US are probably also more tolerant of the size of buses on the street, so there's no pressure to reduce the amount of space they take up.

# Ian Bicking

A big reason US trains are not is efficient is because the US is nuts about safety. Thus US trains are often twice as heavy as European trains in order to make them crash worthy. There are probably many more road-level railway crossings in the US than in Europe. Still, the US is way more strict, and I don't know how effective that really is at preventing accidents. Surely it must lengthen the stopping distance, which would be safer if it could be shorter.

# James