January 20th, 2021

Will Lethbridge Transit everbe green?

By Letter to the Editor on August 19, 2020.

Public transit systems are seen as a strategy to fight global warming and that all types of transit systems contribute somewhat equally to environmental efforts. Reality is much different.

Several years ago when using the public transit in Germany, I became aware of different levels of environmental performance. Their system was electric rail which is 50 per cent more efficient than our diesel buses. Germany has 50 per cent green power which reduced my carbon footprint to 25 per cent, the size as if one was travelling in Lethbridge’s buses.

Public transit occupancy levels in Europe are typically standing room only, and probably are at least five times higher than here. When this factor is considered one had a European carbon foot print only five per cent, the size if one had used Lethbridge Transit.

Buses which operate at about five miles per gallon compete environmentally against personal vehicles that operate at fuel efficiencies such as 25 miles per gallon.

How can transit buses still be “green”? The key to a bus being green is to have sufficient persons in the bus to create a smaller average carbon foot print per person. Generally at an occupancy of about seven to eight persons the bus will provide users with a lower carbon footprint than those in a single occupant vehicle. Having surveyed about 100 buses over the summer bus occupancy was usually 0 to 2 persons.

This summer’s carbon footprints per person travelling in Lethbridge can be ranked as follows, with No. 1 being the smallest footprint:

1. Persons that walk, e-bike, and bike;

2. Personal electric vehicles;

3. Personal vehicles that contain multiple riders. More riders, the greener the individual ride;

4. Personal vehicles with a single driver; and

5. Public Transit buses.

If carbon footprint is considered, City buses should be your last choice in travel. With bus traffic being ramped up for August the problem will only be amplified. Mother Earth is not happy.

The new bus terminal is equally unused. Visiting the terminal on a weekday it was vacant without a single passenger. This terminal was described as a “life-changing facility” at its grand opening.

The bus terminal is also a parkade which was designed to address “the definite demand” for additional downtown parking. Visits to the parkade verified a 97 per cent vacancy rate.

When taxes are misspent and used to create environmental damage it is time to voice opposition.

Irwin Olfert


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Did you consider the impact of Covid-19 on transit use, and parking downtown as it relates to workers/working at home? Fewer students in the summer?

It’s an interesting comment, but needs better information.


Oh where to start. You are comparing Lethbridges transit system to a country that has twice the population of Canada and could almost fit twice in Alberta alone. Do you get where im going? Toronto and Vancouver have electric buses. Why? Because both demand and use warrant them. I’d like a high speed train to Edmonton but I doubt it makes financial sense. I would love it if our buses were used more but we are our worst enemy when it comes to that.


I don’t know if comparing our society to anything in Europe is realistic but of course we could do better. I didn’t realize electric buses had now become feasible. Would be a tremendous step forward. My son spent the winter riding LT to get to college. He said the new terminal was always busy when he was there. Early morning and late afternoon, which makes sense.