Mass Transit? Bus-ted!

Mass Transit? Bus-ted!

Thanks to one of the myriad of deal sites that now litter the Kiwi section of the interweb, last night the current Mrs Grimley and I treated ourselves to a massively overindulgent feast of beer and pizza in one of the more upmarket bars in Takapuna. And in anticipation of the impending alco-binge it was deemed a wise move to forsake the car in favour of the council limousine.

‘Ah ha!’ I hear you cry, ‘Here we go, another motoring hack poised and ready to jump on the bandwagon of bus bashing!’ But you would be wrong. Because thanks to the dashboard technology sported by one of the more advanced Scanias floating around the North Shore, the bus has proved perfectly capable of bashing itself.

Between the speedometer and the rev counter sat a small digital display which continually updated the driver – and nosy passengers on the front seat – with the fuel economy the bus was returning. When idling at a stop or at traffic lights the numbers went as low as a couple of litres per hour, but pulling away briefly put the bus into thousands of litres per hundred kilometres; a figure more usually associated with pocket battleships.

It might look green, but is it?

Generally hauling its way around the topographically challenging roads of Hillcrest seemed to take anywhere between 25 and 120 l/100 km and I would estimate that on average our steed was chewing through a not immodest 65 litres for every hundred k’s. And this is not a good thing when you consider that there were five people travelling. In fact, you can make that four, because I suspect the guy driving probably wouldn’t have been making the journey at all unless being paid to do so.

This means that each passenger was using 16.25l/100km, which is about the same as the urban guzzling of a Falcon XR6; a vehicle not exactly renowned for being pine fresh. And our outward journey was far from an anomaly because when we returned later in the evening we had a whole bus to ourselves. This put us in the same economy bracket as a 1967 Buick Riviera with a seven litre V8 shoehorned under the bonnet.

Only a complete buffoon could possibly argue that a bus is an environmentally viable method of transport in these circumstances. In fact any route where the average number of passengers is below nine would almost certainly be better replaced by a fleet of Bluemotion Polos.

Of course, buses do have their place. During rush hours or for pre-organised group transportation, there is no question that their ability to put a large amount of people in a comparatively small area, powered by a single engine means they make sense not only from an ecological point of view, but also logistically as they free up huge amounts of road space.

And for these occasions it is only right and proper that the powers that be do everything possible to encourage people to embrace the loser cruiser. But if the motivation is truly one of green good intentions – rather than lining the pockets of bus company owners with hefty council subsidies – it needs to be acknowledged that the omnibus is not an all encompassing solution and low occupancy routes should be put under serious scrutiny.

Because while it is nice to have the option of a bus to ferry us around, sometimes we have to put environmental good before personal gain. And in those circumstances it may be necessary to stop, think and for the good of the planet reach for the car keys.

Thanks to one of the myriad of deal sites that now litter the Kiwi section of the interweb, last night the current Mrs Grimley and I treated ourselves to a massively overindulgent feast of beer and pizza in one of the more upmarket bars in Takapuna. And in anticipation of the impending alco-binge it was deemed a wise move to forsake the car in favour of the council limousine.

‘Ah ha!’ I hear you cry, ‘Here we go, another motoring hack poised and ready to jump on the bandwagon of bus bashing!’ But you would be wrong. Because thanks to the dashboard technology sported by one of the more advanced Scanias floating around the North Shore, the bus has proved perfectly capable of bashing itself.

Between the speedometer and the rev counter sat a small digital display which continually updated the driver – and nosy passengers on the front seat – with the fuel economy the bus was returning. When idling at a stop or at traffic lights the numbers went as low as a couple of litres per hour, but pulling away briefly put the bus into thousands of litres per hundred kilometres; a figure more usually associated with pocket battleships.

It might look green, but is it?

Generally hauling its way around the topographically challenging roads of Hillcrest seemed to take anywhere between 25 and 120 l/100 km and I would estimate that on average our steed was chewing through a not immodest 65 litres for every hundred k’s. And this is not a good thing when you consider that there were five people travelling. In fact, you can make that four, because I suspect the guy driving probably wouldn’t have been making the journey at all unless being paid to do so.

This means that each passenger was using 16.25l/100km, which is about the same as the urban guzzling of a Falcon XR6; a vehicle not exactly renowned for being pine fresh. And our outward journey was far from an anomaly because when we returned later in the evening we had a whole bus to ourselves. This put us in the same economy bracket as a 1967 Buick Riviera with a seven litre V8 shoehorned under the bonnet.

Only a complete buffoon could possibly argue that a bus is an environmentally viable method of transport in these circumstances. In fact any route where the average number of passengers is below nine would almost certainly be better replaced by a fleet of Bluemotion Polos.

Of course, buses do have their place. During rush hours or for pre-organised group transportation, there is no question that their ability to put a large amount of people in a comparatively small area, powered by a single engine means they make sense not only from an ecological point of view, but also logistically as they free up huge amounts of road space.

And for these occasions it is only right and proper that the powers that be do everything possible to encourage people to embrace the loser cruiser. But if the motivation is truly one of green good intentions – rather than lining the pockets of bus company owners with hefty council subsidies – it needs to be acknowledged that the omnibus is not an all encompassing solution and low occupancy routes should be put under serious scrutiny.

Because while it is nice to have the option of a bus to ferry us around, sometimes we have to put environmental good before personal gain. And in those circumstances it may be necessary to stop, think and for the good of the planet reach for the car keys.

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