Why – good – public transportation matters


I could say a lot of bad things about public transportation in Paris : they’re noisy, smelly, dirty, overcrowded in peak hours and not exactly cheap and most of all, not reliable at all. But they slashed my CO2 emissions by almost 10 kg per day.

So, according to the RATP, during the eight months of my mission I avoided emitting 1,400 kilograms of carbon dioxide. And taking the subway was way cheaper than owning, fueling, insuring and parking a car in Paris.

When I remember all the cars idling in traffic while I went or came back from work as I was reading the many books I read since January, I can’t but appreciate public transportation.

Despite it took me at least 75 minutes to go and come back from the job – and sometimes more than two hours – I think that was better to going by car.

So 1,400 kilograms of carbon dioxide seems a lot, but let’s also have a look at the amount of oil I avoided burning. Here are my calculations :

  • Paris – Cergy : 35 km one way, 70 km both ways ;
  • From Monday to Friday, 5 days : 350 km per weeks ;
  • Worked for 28 weeks : 9,800 kms (6,125 miles) ;
  • Toyota Yaris, consumes around 8 liters for 100 kms in cities ;
  • A total of 784 liters of gasoline, nearly 5 barrels of oil.

Regarding money, a price of a liter of gasoline is around 1.5 €. 800 liters of gas would thus cost 1,200 €. So it would have cost me 150€ per month just to put gas in my tank. The insurance, the parking, the depreciation of the car would have cost even more…

Meanwhile, a five-zone pass enabled me to go to Cergy cost 110€ per month, half being paid by ESSEC…

You get the idea : if we want to seriously cut our addiction to oil and avert catastrophic climate change, we need good public transportations. A prior example of this was how the French trains and the SNCF enabled me to avoid a tonne of CO2 emissions in 2008.

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