I was catching up on my reading tonight and read an interesting article in the September issue of Engineers Australia on energy efficiency of different modes of transport.
The report showed a graph of passenger vehicle fuel efficiency from 2004-05 which I was unable to find online. I did however find the same graph (show here) from 2005-06 in an Australian Government publication Energy in Australia 2009 under the Transport and Infrastructure section. This graph highlights some surprising comparisons of efficiencies.
For example motorcycles and international aviation are nearly on par for efficiency in terms of passenger km/GJ. This is a measure of how much energy it takes to move one person for a kilometre.
And while the carbon footprint of travelling by plane was a hot topic recently, it is actually on par with light rail for efficiency. The Engineers Australia report notes that the surprisingly low efficiency of light rail is due to its dependence on electricity which is generated relatively inefficiently from brown coal. A reasonable conclusion from this is that electric cars are possibly not the environmental saviour that many claim them to be.
So if you were looking for a way to reduce the carbon footprint of your daily commute don’t bother buying a motorcycle. You may as well catch the train or even the plane. As can be clearly seen in the graph above, the best option by far is to jump on the the bus!