Take the Bus or Train – It Does Make a Difference

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With fuel prices unpredictable and concerns about consumption rising, many people are wondering if they should make changes to their lives.  The answer is yes, and there are simply ways to make things better.  For instance, choosing to get to work without taking the car can make a big difference in fuel consumption, pollution, CO2 emissions and traffic congestion.

Did you know that a twenty mile daily trip to work produces nearly a thousand pounds of carbon dioxide – even if your car is brand new?  That’s like a dozen twenty pound bags of charcoal.  To neutralize that carbon contribution, you’d need to plant around a hundred and fifty sugar maples, and that doesn’t count the rest of your driving.  Think about how many trees you’d need to neutralize the carbon emissions caused by the travel of everyone in your family, or your whole neighborhood!

This kind of impact is referred to as the ecological footprint.  It’s how much damage you do and how many resources you use up during the course of a year.  For most people, it’s an enormous amount, and a lot of us are trying to reduce our ecological footprints.  However, this can be tricky, since heating and cooling our homes, transportation, and what we eat are the biggest contributors to this footprint.  Those are difficult areas for many people to change significantly.  However, if you think about it, changes can be made.

For instance, you could cut the CO2 emissions of your morning commute in half, just by taking the train.  Plus, you’d get to skip dealing with traffic jams, stop lights, crowded intersections, and all the other hassles of commuting.  Let someone else do the driving, and take the bus, or the train.  People all over America are using public transportation more and more, with the number of trips taken rising by about six and a half percent.  We drove about four and a half percent less in the last quarter of 2008.

Buses are far more efficient than driving as well.  Did you know that mileage for a bus is around 146 miles per gallon per passenger?  That’s more than almost all other methods of transportation.  Around fifty cars could be eliminated from the already crowded highways in the morning and evening if their drivers simply chose to take a single bus.  That makes it a good idea to investigate the cost and convenience of your city’s bus program.

Communities with increases in light rail usage included Baltimore, Minneapolis, Sacramento, the entire state of New Jersey, Los Angeles and Dallas, among others.  Bus riding was up over seven percent overall, with Orange County in the lead with increases of nearly a quarter.  Riders increased in Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis, Atlanta, and the Northwest, too.  Use of commuter rail and subways is up as well, offering significantly greater efficiency than cars.

Don’t forget about non-motorized options, too.  If you happen to live within a mile or two of working, walking is an option on most days.  This may take a little longer than a drive, but it’s healthier.  You could give up your gym membership and a significant portion of your gas costs.  If work is a little further away, biking is an excellent driving alternative that’ll get your heart rate up and keep your muscles healthier.  While weather can be an influence on these modes of travel, they’re a good choice for a large part of the year.  Think about your morning commute, as well as your other travel, and see what you can do to make your ecological footprint a little bit smaller.

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  5. Car Pooling
  6. What Green Vehicle Does America Want?

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