Thursday, May 12, 2016

Modes of passenger transportation around the world

There was an interesting graphic in today's paper about the different modes of transport used in various countries across the world. The graph was culled from a more detailed US Energy Information Administration report on international passenger transportation trends.
The report's first conclusion is that annual passenger travel, in general terms, tends to increase with income. No surprise there, and a neat scatter graph shows a more or less straight-line progression from low passenger-miles and low per capita GDP regions like Africa and China, through the middle-ground countries like Japan, Europe, Australia and Canada, to the USA, which is way out in a class of its own, both in total mileage travelled and per capita GDP.
It was the breakdown of the modes of transport used for travel that particularly struck me, though. In Canada, about 95% of passenger transportation miles were travelled in "light-duty vehicles" (i.e. cars), with most of the rest utilizing buses, and just a tiny fraction using "two- or three-wheel" transportation (i.e. bikes) and passenger rail. The USA profile is similar, with slightly less car use (about 90%) and a little more bus transportation. Australia and New Zealand are also similar, with car use just under 90%, and a bigger contribution from rail transportation, and these were followed by Western Europe, with still less car mileage and substantially more bike mileage.
The picture only starts to change significantly with Japan, where cars are only responsible for just over 60% of passenger miles, rail nearly 30%, and the remainder almost evenly split between buses and two-and three-wheel transportation. In China, less than 40% of journeys use cars, along with about 25% by rail, and the rest split pretty evenly between bus transportation and two- and three-wheel modes of transport. Most of Africa and South and Central America have car use down at levels of 40% - 45%, with most of the rest coming from bus journeys. India is a case on its own, with rail transportation responsible for nearly half of the total, buses another third, and car journeys accounting for less than 20% of total annual passenger miles.
Fascinating. And kind of depressing.

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