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Carbon Footprint Of Mass Transportation Vs An Automobile

925 words - 4 pages


Different modes of transportation emit various amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. In today's world, where global warming is an issue, the way people choose to travel makes a difference. This paper contains the calculation of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system's carbon footprint and compares it to the carbon footprint of cars traveling the same distance. The results of this calculation will hopefully cause the average commuter to reconsider his or her form of transportation.


About BART

Every day of the week, thousands of people living in the Bay Area take advantage of the BART system. This system comprises of 104 miles of track and 43 stations, including underground tunnels and passageways (1). Also, the trains run at a swift 80 miles per hour on electric currents, bringing about fast and efficient commuting (1). The amount of passengers riding BART continues to increase. However, others decide to use alternative transports, such as driving.

The Investigation

It is important to be aware of the effects different modes of transportation have on our environment. As global warming becomes a problem facing the current world, the monitoring of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere is necessary. One way in doing such an analysis is through calculating a carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is a calculation of the total amount of CO2 derived from a source. This amount depends on the type of energy the source used (i.e. coal, gas, nuclear, etc.), how much of that energy source is used, and how long the source runs. These carbon footprint calculations are used by industries and people to plan and decrease their effect on global warming.

In this case, the transportation system of BART was examined in order to calculate the amount of CO2 emitted per year. This calculation was derived from the energy consumed by BART and compared to the amount of of CO2 released by a car traveling the same distance that BART travels in a year. In these calculations, the amount of CO2 emitted through production was not considered in either case, and therefore, only the efficency of the two different ways of traveling were considered.



To calculate the carbon footprint of BART, the following formula was used:

(energy consumed) × (amount of CO2 emitted per Kw/h) =carbon footprint (grams of CO2)

The total energy consumption of BART in one year is 31,547,641 Kw/h (1)

Type of Energy Amount of CO2
Hydro-electric 15 g
Coal 1,000 g
Gas Powered 500 g
Nuclear 5 g
Petroleum 650 g
Renewable 0 g

By inserting the numerical information into the equation above the following equation when simplified in order to produce the carbon footprint of BART:

(31,547,641 Kw/h)


((15 g*.61)+(1,000 g*.19)+(500 g*.09)+(5 g*.08)+(650 g*.01)+(0 g*.02))


186,502,713,311 g CO2 per Kw/h
(Total Energy Consumed)


(sum of the amount of CO2...

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