Archive for the 'Transport' Category

(Chronologically Listed)

the case for the eBus: on communities collapsing forward

electric bus

Reasonable folks are worried about collapse these days, and even if we don't trigger the big one, there are things communities can do to "prepare themselves to sail as gracefully through that turbulence as possible", notes Alex Steffen (via worldchanging).

Steffen's hot tip: "prepare to collapse forward", which means "investing now in solutions that will...provide constituent parts for a better replacement system."

Says Steffen, "our goal should always be to avoid collapses in general, but where we see them coming, our goal should be to collapse as intelligently as possible."

That’s a strong argument for investing in electric buses.

Published by Ken on April 1st, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Transport | Comments Off

Superferry footprint findings: on inconvenient truthiness

cherry picking

Environment-Hawaii's Pat Tummins was kind enough to include SusHI in her commentary on the Superferry, and went on to feature Jeff Mikulina and Brad Parsons regarding this boat’s "extravagant carbon footprint".

Tummins didn't mention my preliminary finding that the ferry beats inter-island flying emissions by 5-to-1, perhaps because she didn't see it...since Parsons edited it out of his anti-ferry blog.

Parsons claims (via email) he left out my calculation of 'emissions per ton-mile' because "it would just confuse most readers."

Either way, it's far from clear that HSF is worse than airlines, as some folks want you to believe.

Published by Ken on February 5th, 2009 tagged Ecological Footprint, Transport | 4 Comments »

surfeit of super-rich smothers recession signs on Hawaii island

private jets smother tarmac

The first sign that something extraordinary goes down on Hawaii Island is the tarmac smothered in private jets.

Our Kona hotel may have been half-full this holiday season, yet the super-rich are flocking to this lava land in record numbers. (I counted 62 jets of all sizes as we left Keahole last eve.)

Embarrassing! Why? Because this poorest of the islands gets its extra bucks at Christmas servicing the ostentatious frolicking of overpaid execs by schlepping daily dozens of jet fuel trucks from Hilo and prepping $100-a-plate meals for these gamboling glitterati (via PBN). There’s no sign of hard times here!

Published by Ken on December 29th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Transport | 1 Comment »

tax credits for retrofits: bailout helps EVs

EV components

You noticed that tax credit for EVs added to the bailout bill last October to ensure its passage? No, neither did I.

Yet there it is: $2,500-$7,500 per vehicle, with $417 for each kWh of battery pack capacity in excess of 4 kWh.

So we could get a refund for most of the cost of an EV conversion, right? Wot are we waiting for?

Andy Grove says don't wait. "The ramp will be too slow, if we rely fully on new vehicle purchases". To get the needed penetration and reduce oil demand, we gotta retrofit the current car fleet (via greeninc).

Published by Ken on December 22nd, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | Comments Off

on transport growth sectors: look out for bikes

US bikes and cars

Doesn't help the Big3 automakers that they're sitting on top of a declining market.

Fact is, US car purchases have been dropping for several decades, falling below 8M each year since 2003, according to BTS data.

Meanwhile, bike purchases have been climbing steadily since the late-90s and reaching 14M in 2005--almost twice the number of cars purchased. Yeah!

Nor does it help that the car growth markets are places like China and Eastern Europe, where US cars aren't all that popular (for some reason).

Next year, the Chinese will buy 4M more cars than in 2000, while Americans will buy 4M fewer.

Published by Ken on December 18th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Transport | Comments Off

RU ready for EVs? power routers coming soon

plugiin needs infrastructure

Rex Roy thinks maybe it's a good thing EVs are yet prolific...because our infrastructure isn't ready for them (via automobilemag).

Now, the EMerge Alliance is forging new standards for sustainable buildings that include power support for charging DC-powered vehicles. Yeah!

Lots of industry hitters here, and lets hope a standardized charging system for EVs emerges soon.

Roy notes that Nextek, an alliance founding member, has out a "Power Bridge" that enables locally generated DC power to be used locally, without the inefficient DC-to-AC-to-DC conversion required when DC power enters and then returns from the main power grid. Kewl!

Published by Ken on December 4th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | 1 Comment »

2 paths to EV future: switch-and-toss or convert

EV motor

We know EVs are a huge win in emissions reduction and lower driving costs, yet waiting to switch, then tossing your clunker is just one way to make the transition. The other is to convert existing cars to EV.

From a sustainability perspective, we gotta consider the footprint of the "tossing" together with the "switching".

Now we have reliable data showing that EV conversion is superior to switch-and-toss, thanks to CalCars’ Kramer & Gremban.

Converting your existing ICE to EV would save an additional 20% in lifetime energy versus building a new EV, if you include the disposal of you ICE clunker.

Published by Ken on December 3rd, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Transport | 1 Comment »

Hawaii makes five, Oh! Better Place gets a handful for EVs

better place HI

Nothing wrong with being fifth in line, especially when it's a long term agreement with Better Place to build an electric vehicle infrastructure. Hey, at least we're the first state.

Following earlier deals with Israel, Denmark, Australia, and San Fransicso, BP CEO Shai Agassi announced their "mobile phone" business model for island EVs (via HNLadvertiser).

BP envisions "Car 2.0" with instant refueling stations where EV drivers can swap-out leased batteries in three minutes while a driver waits in the car.

According to Agassi, electric cars won't need gobs of electricity...perhaps 5-6 kWh to power a typical Hawaii commute of 20-25 miles.

Published by Ken on December 3rd, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | 1 Comment »

greener, sooner, cheaper: on ICEs vs EVs and conversions

cost of driving gas vs electric

Stuck with internal combustion engines (ICEs)? Starving for electric vehicles (EVs)? Read these numbers and weep.

American drivers spent $280 billion for gas last year, when the equivalent miles in an EV would have cost $66 billion. In 2000 these amounts were $143 and $46 billion, respectively. That's $1.2 trillion total savings since 2000 if GM hadn't killed the electric car.

Oh, and the EV advantage climbed from two-thirds to three-quarters saved versus the ICE from 2000 to 2007. And did I mention the associated emissions reductions (read on)? These notes are prompted by Lester Brown's update of the electric car advantage (via treehugger).

Published by Ken on November 30th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | 3 Comments »

what happened on election day? Kauai’s visitor downturn

kauai visitor trend

Well into the Fall, Kauai was sailing along at unprecedented rates of growth in the number of visitors flying nonstop to Kauai.

Taken as a percentage of 2007 traffic, our 2008 numbers were up by double digits, while the rest of the state was down by an equal amount. As recently as November 3rd, Kauai was the only island with a projected growth in airline seats.

Then on November 4th, the growth went to zero and it's been heading south ever since.

I know this’s happening because I track these numbers and produce indicator trends for my newspaper column. Yet, I don’t know why.

Published by Ken on November 25th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Transport | Comments Off

when half-fast sounds radical: on Google’s energy plan

googles eric schmidt

Try this scenario for 2030: there is no electricity from oil or coal, efficiency measures keep electricity demand flat, half of all cars are electric, conventional vehicles get 45mpg, and plug-ins add only 8% to the electricity load.

Plus, for every dollar spent in this energy transition, we get $1.23 back in energy savings.

Sounds way radical, right? Wrong, it’s Obama's green energy guru from Google, Eric Schmidt (via evworld).

Oh, and, Google’s plan is far less radical than either the Gore or Pickens plans. Still, pick Pickens, pick Gore, pick Google...doesn't matter which plan you pick for the post-carbon transition. Just pick one, says Schmidt.

Published by Ken on November 16th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | Comments Off

my kind of bike guy: Obama pulls nexgen cycling

obama cycling

The Obamas went cycling along Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline back in August, just after Barry sowed up the Demo nomination, and all us cyclists went "YEAH!" (via huffpost).

Perhaps our next president's intimate knowledge of cycling's fun and frugality will ensure that human-powered options come up on the feds' alternative transport radar.

Keen observers will note the trailer hitch (with an Obama daughter cropped out...Kewl!), and regular readers know I'm a recent convert to ebike + trailer for around-town transport.

Then again, Bush was also a cyclist, yet didn’t go out of his way to promote cycling for recreation or transportation.

Published by Ken on November 11th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Transport | Comments Off

slashing auto dependence with rapid response green fleets

rapid response taxibus

Tomorrow I'm off to Maui for the planners conference, where I'll talk about sustainable transport, energy and food...including a 'what-if' called "Kauaian LandLines" which looks a lot like the new TaxiBus coming to London.

Sarah Rich writes that a fleet of 20,000 TaxiBuses can handle 8 million daily passenger journeys, versus London's current taxi fleet (20,000 vehicles, 0.5M rides), or buses (6,000 vehicles, 4M rides), or the Underground (2.5M rides) (via worldchanging).

With Kauaian LandLines, which similarly envisions computerized door-to-door itineraries, I estimate we could replace all car commuting with a fleet of 2,000 8-passenger vans. Cheaper and greener.

Published by Ken on September 10th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Transport | Comments Off

from low-hanging fruit to slim pickings at UPS

UPS shaves emissions

Squeezing inefficiency from your operations is a quick win to chalk up on your eco scorecard...and then what do you do to keep the great green news coming?

Tougher than it seems, as UPS is learning. Sure, this year they got headlines for a huge drop in CO2 emissions, yet look closer and you'll see some interesting 'system effects' that aren't so rosy (via enviroleader).

Turns out energy consumption per package is actually going up. Why? More residential deliveries and faster transit-times. Now comes the hard part.

UPS intends to nudge these numbers downward with stuff like rerouting to avoid left turns.

Published by Ken on September 6th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | Comments Off

can Hawaii substitute imports as transport costs shift?

hawaii imports

Trade has decreased Hawaii's ability to be self sufficient, and now the benefits of trade are slipping as transport costs slide up the scale. Does this mean Hawaii should resurrect import substitution? Yup, says Nathan John Hagens, although he's not just talking about Hawaii.

"Import substitution policies (are) not only for LessDevelopedCountries, but for the US and rich nations as well," says Hagens (via oildrum).

Globalization has led many locations to specialize and, forgo local expertise and use of local resources, notes Hagens. Yet not all products have local substitutes, and Hawaii might study which imports we could substitute, if/when we have to.

Published by Ken on August 21st, 2008 tagged Adaptation, Transport | Comments Off

coming soon to airports near you: far fewer fearless flyers

sunset of mass air travel

Those who live far from family, or work for the airline industry, or depend on tourism or airfreight for an income will have few options, says Richard Heinberg (via globalpublicmedia).

Why? The airline industry has no future, and this includes airfreight. "In a few years jet service will be available only to the wealthy, or to the government and military", says Heinberg.

As Hawaii knows intimately, "cheap airfare has helped facilitate the geographic dispersion of families and businesses alike", says Bradford Plumer (via newrepublic).

Now, Daniel Lerch reports that the airline industry is coming out against airport expansion (via postcarbon).

Published by Ken on August 18th, 2008 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Transport | Comments Off

peddle to the medal: ebikes win big on energetic efficiency

benefits of ebiking

Before I get into some new data on the earth benefits of ebiking, go watch this video by bicycle2work (via ATIVsolutions).

Now, the good news is we finally have the kind of detailed energy efficiency data we need to make smart decisions about our vehicles. A new journal features "The Energetic Performance of Vehicles" in its inaugural issue (via Open-Energy-and-Fuels).

Author J.L. Radtke has done us a huge favor by calculating the 'energetic efficiency' of many different modes of transport.

I’m delighted to report that an ebike beats yer garden variety car by about 28-to-1 on both fuel economy and emissions.

Published by Ken on August 8th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | 1 Comment »

another day, another ebike rider: on cycling benefits

cycling benefits

Good buddy Jack just called with news his ebike (just like mine) arrived today. Yeah!

We're gonna get many more islanders switching to bikes, despite the 4-wheelers running us down (which is, thankfully, still a rarity). Makes no sense to resist cycling because of jerks on the road.

Aside from the benefits to your wallet, how about your belly? This chart shows the relation between obesity and cycling in Germany, Holland and the US.

Oh, and, the spinoff benefits are also profound, in terms of GHG emissions and congestion. Among factoids you might fancy: bicycles use 35 calories per mile versus 1,860 for cars.

Published by Ken on August 5th, 2008 tagged Energy, Transport | Comments Off

stimulus with a green tinge: cash for clunkers

cash for clunkers

Say Uncle Sam offered you $3500 for your clunker just to get your fumes off the road. Would that be a good deal for America?

Face it, half the car pollution comes from a tiny fraction of clunking spewers. And, wot's a ton of carbon dioxide worth these days?

Wudja believe an economist came up with this one: "Cash for Clunkers".

Yup, the math is all worked out, and it turns out America would triple their money by taking you out of the spewing business (via gristmill).

Howzat? Because it would cost that much more to "abate" your emissions, that's why.

Published by Ken on August 5th, 2008 tagged Systems Thinking, Transport | Comments Off

export subsidies for biodiesel: the ‘splash-n-dash’ scam

splash n dash biodiesel scam

Betcha didn't know US taxpayers fork over a $1 subsidy for every gallon of biodiesel that is blended in the U.S. for export later.

The idea was to give a nudge to the U.S. biofuel industry, yet here, too, America's ill-fated biofuel policy is boomeranging (via transforminghawaii).

To make that extra buck, oil tankers full of biodiesel can simply stop off in a US port for a 'splash' of regular diesel before 'dashing' to the EU. The US company nominally 'importing' this oil gets credit for the full load.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2008 tagged Systems Thinking, Transport | Comments Off