Yet there are very good reasons why public transit occupancy rates will never rise much above their current levels of about one-fifth full. Suppose you take a bus or train to work during rush hour and it seems full. But it really only seems full as it approaches the center of town. It is likely to be nearly empty when it starts its journey in the suburbs, and be nearly full only when it gets close to the city center. Over a single, one-way journey into town (or out of town in the afternoon), the vehicle is likely to average only about half full.
Plus, that bus or train has to return in the other direction, and then it could be nearly empty. Now the transit line averages just one-quarter full.
So take the typical energy cost quoted by your neighborhood Usual Suspect™, and divide by 4. Actually, you should divide by 5, but 4 covers you even under the "what if we got more people to use mass transit" argument.
Plus, fuel is actually a smallish part of total energy costs for rail:
As shown in the table above, the high rail non-fuel costs cancel out the slight fuel-related energy savings of rail transit over cars. In any case, the only strategies that might make transit energy efficient are to run it only during rush hours or only in dense city centers–and even then there is no guarantee.Cars and trucks seem at least 25% more energy efficient than rail transit. Do drive to work. Don't you love mother Gaia?
Remember, it's not what you don't know that hurts you. It's what you "know", but which is dead wrong.