In America, there are many ways to get from here to there. For years, the single most popular mode of transportation for most Americans was the car. As gas prices rise to that terrifying $4.00/gallon threshold, many are beginning to look for cheaper alternatives for business trips and family vacations.
Cost shouldn't be the only consideration when planning your next trip. You should also think about the environmental impact of your chosen mode of transportation. There are many websites with useful calculators that allow you to compare carbon emissions of different carriers to decide how to make your travels more eco-friendly.
The best calculator I could find online is at the Carbon Footprint website. Using their calculator, I did a quick comparison of a plain vs. train vs. bus vs. automobile ride to determine which choice is the greenest. I also did a comparison of costs to determine which would be the cheapest and travel time to see which would be the fastest. Check it out..
- On a trip from my home of Washington, DC to Boston, MA and back, the financial, environmental and time costs associated with each mode of transportation are:
- Automobile: I based this calculation on the average gas mileage of an American automobile, which is 21 MPG . According to Google Maps, the distance between Boston and DC is 441 miles (so 882 total miles). The average cost of a gallon of gasoline is $3.13, according to Energy Information Administration.
--- For a round-trip drive to Boston from DC and back, the carbon emissions are 0.368 Tons of CO2. For gas alone, the trip would cost about $131.46 and would take about 8 hours each way.
- Train: I looked at the price of an Amtrak ticket, leaving on a Friday (March 7th at noon) and coming back on a Sunday (March 9th at 3:00 PM).
--- For a round-trip train ride to Boston from DC and back, the carbon emissions are 0.085 Tons of CO2. The train ticket would cost about $200 and would take about 8 hours each way.
- Plane: Using Hotwire.com and the dates of March 7-9 (Fri-Sun), from BWI Airport to Logan Airport.
---- For a round-trip airplane ride to Boston from DC and back, the carbon emissions are .242 Tons of CO2. The plane ticket would cost about $220 and would take about 3 hours each way.
- Bus: Using Greyhound.com and the dates of March 7-9 (Fri-Sun)
--- For a round-trip bus ride to Boston from DC and back, the carbon emissions are .126 Tons of CO2. The bust ticket would cost about $100 and would take about 9 hours each way.
- Emissions: Train, Automobile, Bus, Plane
- Cost: Bus, Car, Train, Plane
- Time: Plane, Train, Car, Bus