Transport Report: January 2011     Next month >>

Every day this year, I've recorded how far I travel, and by what mode, in a nifty Google Doc. In January, 2011, I traveled a total of 2376 miles. Of these, 2085 were for transportation, and 291 were for exercise or recreation. Of the transportation miles, 1985 were mechanized; 120 were person-powered. I burned an estimated 39.31 gallons of fossil fuels (or the equivalent to power electrically-powered vehicles), averaging 49.98 person-miles per gallon.

States visited: Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont. States visited in transit: Michigan.

Transportatiom systems/providers used: CTA, MBTA, Delta Airlines

Here's the data, broken out in to charts:

Miles per day by mode. Log scale, base 2 (to get more lines). NB that all data starts at one; there is no way to display zero values in a log scale, so 1 null mile is added to each day to display the graph correctly.


  • Yes, ski miles. Many days I ski about 1 mile each way between the MBTA's Riverside Station and the Weston Ski Track. Or, when there's enough snow, I ski to the grocery store in Cambridge.
  • Person miles per gallon estimated as follows; these are very much estimates with information from Wikipedia's fuel efficiency in transportation article:
    • Single-occupancy vehicle = 40 pmpg (generally a 1998 Corolla or a Prius)
    • Pool = 75 pmpg (30 mpg, average 2.5 people)
    • Taxi = 50 pmpg (20 mpg, average 2.5 people)
    • Bus = 160 pmpg (4 mpg, average 40 people)
    • Rail = 500 pmpg (For light rail: 20 mpg, average 25 people; this is actually low since a light rail vehicle really does use the same amount of energy as an SUV, at peak load it can average 2000-4000 pmpg!)
    • Airplane = 40 mpg (0.25 mpg, 160 passengers; this varies by plane type, distance and load)
  • Notice how air travel and car travel, especially in single-occupancy vehicles, use the most fuel while public transit use is almost negligible.
  • No, I'm not going to calculate the extra calories burned biking or walking and how much fuel was used to raise those calories. Although it would be a number (energy can't just disappear, Al Einstein said so) it'd be a pretty small number.

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© 2011, Ari Ofsevit