What’s the most efficient way to transport 300 passengers?

Aug 23, 2009 by Lisa Newton

It’s a thought-provoking question. Here in Los Angeles, the car capital of the world, the average car on the freeway carries 1.1 passengers, and we spend an average of 100 hours per year commuting to and from work, which is not very efficient at all.

More frequently than not, the car pool lanes are backed up with traffic like the other 8 lanes on the 405. And to add a bit of insult to injury, many drivers commit the infraction of having less than the legal minimum of 2+ riders in their car. For them, it’s only a matter of time before they get a ticket.

On the other hand, why not use one of the two alternative transportation modes of either light rail or bus via Metro for maximum efficiency, least harm to your wallet, the environment, and your nerves?

A couple points to note regarding this great illustration provided by the Metro Silver Liner:

1. I’ve added an additional train car based on a total train capacity of 76 “seated” riders. I want to be seated during my train ride so I can read, use my computer, or play a game on my PDA. Therefore, with a seating capacity of 76 passengers, 4 cars are more than ample.

2. For the same reason listed above, I’ve added an additional Metro bus to the list. Each Metro bus has a seating capacity of 40 passengers. To be sure, 40 times 7 = 280, but having to stand for a few stops is not unreasonable. With people coming and going it’s just a matter of time before a seat becomes available.

What’s the most efficient way to transport 300 passengers?

4 Light Rail train cars

OR


7 MTA buses

OR

273 automobiles

273 is the number of cars required to transport 300 passengers.

Imagine how your daily commute would be if 300 more people took an alternative mode of transportation to work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of commuters who use public transportation in Los Angeles County is only 7% (10% within the borders of the city of Los Angeles), which is much lower than in other major American cities: 30% of San Franciscan workers use public transit, 25% within Chicago, and 54% in New York City.

But don’t depend on the other guy doing it. By planning smartly and incorporating the right set of circumstances, Travelin’ Local in Los Angeles would be much easier by using alternative and more efficient means of transportation.

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8 Responses to “What’s the most efficient way to transport 300 passengers?”

  1. Streetsblog Capitol Hill » The Social Costs of Car-free Living in Small Cities says:

    [...] Bobby Jindal, who previously flipped his position on high-speed rail, has now decided to flop. Travelin’ Local looks at the relative spatial efficiency of various transport modes. And Transit Miami laments the [...]

  2. Chip says:

    This can be taken further: On a 4-lane highway, those 273 cars will stretch 1088 feet bumper to bumper (assuming an average length of 16 feet, the length of a Honda Accord). At 30mph, naïvely assuming a proper following distance of 1 carlength per 10mph, they’ll take up 4352 feet; at 70mph, 8704 feet, over a mile and a half.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Chip, What a great idea. Your visual is very freeway friendly. )

    [Reply]

  3. Streetsblog Los Angeles » The Social Costs of Car-free Living in Small Cities says:

    [...] Bobby Jindal, who previously flipped his position on high-speed rail, has now decided to flop. Travelin’ Local looks at the relative spatial efficiency of various transport modes. And Transit Miami laments the [...]

  4. Streetsblog New York City » The Social Costs of Car-Free Living in Small Cities says:

    [...] Bobby Jindal, who previously flipped his position on high-speed rail, has now decided to flop. Travelin’ Local looks at the relative spatial efficiency of various transport modes. And Transit Miami laments the [...]

  5. Streetsblog San Francisco » The Social Costs of Car-Free Living in Small Cities says:

    [...] Bobby Jindal, who previously flipped his position on high-speed rail, has now decided to flop. Travelin’ Local looks at the relative spatial efficiency of various transport modes. And Transit Miami laments the [...]

  6. Fred says:

    Nice simpleton story, except that it ignores the fact that the 300 passengers have 300 different points of origin and destinations.

    The real question should be what’s the best way for EACH of the 300, not the government cubicle worker “planning” their trip?

    [Reply]

  7. LisaNewton says:

    I disagree. Metro looks at traffic data, route planning, the environment, plus it works closely with all the government agencies when planning a new route. Take the tour of the maintenance yards I went on. It was designed to reassure residents that having a maintenance yard isn’t the “bad” neighbor many people think it is.

    As far as those 300 workers with 300 different origins and destinations; that’s why there are parking lots at many Metro lots so people from many origins can get to one Metro station.

    Is it better to spend millions and millions of dollars on adding one lane to the 405 or millions on adding a light rail line along Wilshire?

    [Reply]

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