‘Greener’ Travel During the Holidays

Jacob Leibenluft at Slate posted an article last week analyzing which mode of transportation is the ‘greenest’ – that is, most environmentally friendly – during Thanksgiving travel. As many of you are traveling home or to the homes of loved ones today or tomorrow morning, it is interesting to consider whether one form of transit is more environmentally-friendly than another. The standard analysis for this would most likely take the form of comparing emissions from automobiles to that of trains and airplanes, but Leibenluft approaches this quandary with much more attention to detail, and while he does not make a suggestion over which mode is greener than another, he comes to two conclusions:

First, no matter what data you use, two very simple variables make a big difference: how far you travel and how many passengers are in your vehicle…[d]esigning bus routes and train schedules that fit rider demand—along with encouraging urban development that gives transit more appeal—makes a big difference, owing to the environmental downsides of traveling alone.

Secondly, you can’t discuss the environmental impact of getting around without considering the infrastructure that makes travel possible…Making concrete and asphalt in a more environmentally friendly way can be just as important as getting vehicles to run more efficiently. In other words, it’s not just the road you take, but what it’s made out of, too.

Are you traveling this Thanksgiving holiday? If so, what mode of transportation are you using?

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on November 25, 2009, in Public Infrastructure, Transportation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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