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.