Because it is generally believed that transportation energy can be saved by diverting people from automobiles to rail transit, the United States is now building or planning a number of multi-billion-dollar rail systems. These new-generation rail systems were examined and found to be a net user of energy. The two main points prompting this conclusion are that (a) the energy invested in building a rail system is enormous and thus difficult to repay and (b) the possible savings in operating energy are small, or even negative, because most rail passengers are diverted from buses and buses are more energy efficient than modern rail systems. The analysis was done for San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, but evidence is cited to show that the results are typical for other modern rail systems as well. To the extent that BART is atypical, it appears to be atypically efficient. The analysis takes into account the reduced demand for automobiles and buses because their passengers are diverted to rail and then calculates the energy saved because these conventional vehicles are not built or driven and the roads on which they would travel are not constructed. It is concluded that even radical improvements in automobile diversion, rail patronage, and load factors would not significantly alter the results. /Author/

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 14-30
  • Monograph Title: Environmental and conservation concerns in transportation: energy, noise, and air quality
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00183512
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309026776
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-024 285
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Dec 12 1981 12:00AM