Average Per-Passenger Fuel Economy by Travel Mode

Intercity Rail Transit Rail Motorcycles Airlines Cars Commuter Rail Light Trucks Transit Buses Demand Response
pmpGGE 58.93298270764924 50.38559068518165 50.33871289101415 50.31765947700703 41.65842237171877 39.62560879672625 36.08564001485417 26.60155606499472 9.177627874706218
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Transportation Energy Data Book 38. 2020,Table 2.13.

British thermal unit (BTU) to GGE conversion taken from Appendix A3 of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Monthly Energy Review, February 2020.

This chart shows average per-passenger fuel economy of various modes of travel. All forms of rail achieve relatively high values because of high ridership, proportionally low drag, and high electrification rates. Airlines are an increasingly efficient form of transport as more passengers are fit onto planes and ticketing software fills most planes to capacity. Motorcycles achieve a high number of passenger miles per gallon, owing to their light weight and very high fuel efficiency. Transit buses are not very efficient at their current ridership rates, where, on average, a given bus is less than 25% full. Demand response vehicles are the least efficient because they need to use fuel just to get to the passenger.

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