New Yorkers who want to get around in the most environmentally friendly way have two smart choices. Every year, cars that are more fuel-efficient than the previous year’s models are released. For residents of New York’s boroughs, though, the subway and other mass transit options still rival even the best cars in environmental impact.
Energy-Efficient Cars Have Become Really Environmentally Friendly
In recent years, electric vehicles have become really, really energy efficient. Consumer Reports lists five 2016 models that get the equivalent of 94 miles per gallon or better — dwarfing the first Prius’ fuel economy. According to the popular magazine, the three most fuel-efficient cars are the:
- Ford Focus Electric, which gets a combined 107 miles per gallon
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE, which has a combined fuel economy of 111 miles per gallon
- BMW i3 Giga, which gets a whopping 139 combined miles per gallon
One the highway, the BMW i3 Giga sees 141 miles per gallon — which is more than three times better than the 2001 Toyota Prius’ 45 miles per gallon (as well as the 2016 Prius C Two 48 miles per gallon).
Even better, most power companies today offer an all-green energy option. With such an option, drivers of electric vehicles can choose to charge their cars with entirely renewable energy and effectively reduce their carbon footprint from driving to nothing.
Mass Transit is Also a Very Environmentally Friendly Choice
Despite the advancements in personal vehicles, mass transit — especially the system in New York City — remains a great, environmentally friendly alternative to driving your own car.
Although the city’s trains and busses aren’t fully electric and don’t run exclusively on renewable electricity, they run regardless of whether you take them or not. By opting to take mass transit, you aren’t adding any pollutants to the environment. In fact, by increasing ridership, you’re actually decreasing the environmental impact per person of the mass transit system.
Furthermore, riding on New York’s mass transit system further encourages the city to invest in environmentally friendly rail and bus systems. Over the years, New York has made some significant improvements to its subways, such as:
- installing LED lights in all signals, which saved about 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually
- building a LEED Certified train facility, the Corona Maintenance Facility
- changing Grand Central Station’s 100,000 lightbulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs
These changes may seem small, as they don’t include any purchase of new electric or hybrid vehicles. There are plans to upgrade the bus system with 2,000 new busses in the next five years, though.
Choosing to take mass transit will encourage the city and state to continue investing in New York City’s mass transit system. After all, investments like buying 2,000 new busses won’t be made unless people are riding them.
The Choice May Come Down to Cost
If you want to get around without causing any negative environmental impact, you have two viable options. Driving an electric car that’s charged with electricity generated from renewable resources will add no carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Relying on the city’s mass transit also won’t add anything to the environment beyond what the city’s trains and busses are already emitting, and it could encourage further investment in mass transit.
Ultimately, the choice may come down to cost. Purchasing an electric car, especially the BMW i3 Giga, costs significantly more than getting a subway or bus ticket. But you will be able to save on auto insurance by taking a NY defensive driving course. If you have the funds, go ahead and get an electric vehicle. If you don’t, however, don’t feel bad about relying on mass transit.