TheBus: One of the Most Energy Efficient in the Nation

Photo: Emily Metcalf
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Photo: Emily Metcalf

BY CLIFF SLATER – On Wednesday, February 29, thanks to the Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole, we learned that Honolulu’s TheBus is one of the most energy efficient in the nation.

As we do routinely, we double checked the numbers in the federal government’s National Transit Database for the annual passenger miles traveled by Honolulu’s bus users, and the total gallons of diesel fuel used for the year.


We used the standard conversion of 138,700 Btus per gallon of diesel. The calculation is simply gallons x Btu’s per gallon ÷ annual bus passenger miles.

It comes out to 2,020 Btus per passenger mile for TheBus, which is half the national average for transit buses.

As another check we quickly found two other bus lines of around our size, using diesel only, and performed the same calculation. These two, Cleveland and Broward County, Florida, both came in close to the national average of transit bus energy use.

We had (unforgivably) been using the national average in our discussion under the tab “No energy savings” on the website. Now we have to rewrite it to make this huge adjustment.

Now why do you think that the City has not trumpeted this fact from the roof tops. You don’t have think to hard; they don’t want you to notice that you will be exchanging TbeBus, using 2,020 Btu per passenger mile, for a rail line that will use, at the very least, twice as much energy per passenger mile.

That’s another little item that Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle omitted to tell you.