Archived posts 2013/15

Transport Audit

img_0464A few of us in Ames Street tracked our transport – especially car usage – over a number of weeks. For each trip we made, we wrote down where we went, how far we went, who we went with, and the reason for the trip. We also noted how much we spent on petrol and how many kms we got per tank.

I wasn’t too sure what this exercise would yield, but, inspired by the rubbish audit we did with Simon, we thought we’d have a go at a transport audit. The results actually turned out to be pretty interesting. And the exercise of writing down your trips makes you reflect on your transport choices.

Below is a summary of what we found. Kind of rough, but it’ll give you an idea of things.

The number of kilometres driven varied a fair bit between households, from 33km per week on average to 220km per week to about 700km per week. The thing that most racked up the kms was driving to work and driving the kids to kindy or elsewhere.

Living in Paekakariki, everyone tried to avoid making special trips to the supermarket by car, though there was a bit of driving around the village. One household had groceries delivered from Countdown in a truck that delivers to heaps of other households at the same time. In addition to regularly getting the train into Wellington, one household did a bit of carpooling. And one combined daily train commutes with quite a bit of bicycle riding, including shopping trips to Paraparumu through QEII park (26km return and a beautiful ride).

We got petrol records (over a couple of refills) for two of the cars, a 2004 Ford Mondeo and a Subaru. One did 11.5 km/litre of petrol, the other 13.4. That works out at 8.7litres/100km and 7.5litres/100km respectively, or about 5.25 and 6.25 km per dollar (at $2.20/litre).

Over 500km (a bit under one tank of petrol for both), the cars released 85–100 kg of CO2. Burning 1 litre of petrol releases about 2.3kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. I found that or a similar figure on a number of websites. One explains: “It might seem odd that a greater weight of emissions is produced than the weight of a litre of fuel, but this is because of the addition of oxygen from the atmosphere to the fuel during combustion to form CO2.” The site has a greenhouse gas emissions calculator if you want to work out what your own car emits.

So how to burn less fossil fuel? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Ask yourself if there are car trips you could avoid.

  • What about walking or cycling if you are going under a km or two (or 3 or 4 … even when it’s raining! … even with kids)?

  • What could you do close to home that you currently go quite a distance for?

  • How about taking the train and walking to work instead of driving? Or drive to the train station instead of driving all the way? Or carpooling?

  • Maybe a car free day per week – where you commit not to drive anywhere?

  • Don’t make two car trips for two different things when you can do two things on one trip.

  • Get a smaller, more fuel-efficient car.

  • Share one car between households.

  • Sell your car and make do without. Or sell one of your cars and make do with just one. (No car = no purchase price, no WOF, no rego, no repairs … and without a car, driving becomes a difficult option).

Just some thoughts.

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