Thursday, May 08, 2008

A New Unit of Fuel Efficiency

I used to take my company bus to office every(week)day. However, I had to walk a considerable distance from home to board it; and the same while returning. Walking back home can be considered an exercise but in the mornings, you don't want to be in sweat before starting work(!)
So, I convinced myself that bike would be a better option.

Well, my bike has been the primary mode of transport to office for 3 months now. Rarely have I had a pillion rider (I wish Seetha had come). And then one fine day I thought, "Is bike really more fuel efficient than my bus?".

After a short chit-chat with my office's admin head, I came to know that my company bus gives a mileage of 3.5 Km/ltr and around 25 take the same route as I, were I taking it. By my calculations, my bike gives 65 Km/ltr; if you try to average the number of people travelling on my bike, it would come to 1.0002 or something, so no. of travellers = 1. Today, during lunch, over a blunt conversation for no purpose, this was discussed. And I thought of this *new* unit to measure fuel efficiency: Km-people/ltr; for sake of convenience, lets call it Commutage.

With the above given information, the Commutage for me going to office, would be (65 Km/ltr)*(1 person) = 65 km-people/ltr.

The same for the bus would be, (3.5 Km/ltr)*(25 people) = 87.5 Km-people/ltr.

No prizes for guessing which is better. However, if I can get someone to ride with me to office everyday we get a Commutage that beats the bus! (130 Km-people/ltr to be precise). If everyone were to use bikes (like mine), there would be a lot of fuel saved and space. Buses, especially private ones, take a lot of space on the outside, but aren't exactly full. No. I don't recommend triples or quadruples or more on a bike, they are bound to reduce your mileage and worsens your engine's condition which further reduces mileage, which cannot be compensated in your Commutage!

Now lets take a look at cars. Assume a mileage of 15 Km/ltr. Usually a car can accommodate 4-5 people that gives a Commutage of 60-70. Take a 10 away for AC, 50-60 Km-people/ltr. It is a lot less than even a scarcely crowded bus and I've been too conservative. It can be excused for the sake of comfort. Yet, we can do better than a single person driving it.

Next, Auto rickshaws. Lets put its mileage at 20-25 Km/ltr. The average number of people travelling is 2. You do the math. The case of an Auto, brings us to an interesting point. We may now need to slightly modify our unit of measure. The driver should not be considered in the number of travellers unless he's returning home or taking his family for ride! Similar is the case for call taxis, fathers dropping kids etc. So Commutage should be (Mileage)*(No. of people travelling on purpose). In case of pick-ups and drops, the driver if returning alone has no other work on the way, gives ZERO Commutage!

Finally, MTC!! Well, we don't need to do any math for this. Truly unbeatable stats! Try it out yourself! And in the crowd of a hundred (OK. In most cases atleast), the conductor and driver do not make much of a difference :-)

  1. This should be considered only for (public) road transport. Don't wonder how less a Commutage aeroplanes or fighter planes will give :-P
  2. The availability of petrol and diesel maybe different and also their performance.
  3. Commutage should not be the only criterion. Think about comfort, safety, urgency, availability etc. But all within acceptable limits.
  4. We need more scales. Any takers?
  5. The non-consideration towards drivers, parents and friends should not be taken personally, but only for the sake of calculation.

When I started this post, the price of oil was nearly $124 a barrel. Today water, which is a renewable resource, is also scarce. Oil isn't a renewable resource and we don't have much left in the crust either.

I hope this blog will make people do their bit for the Earth. I do.


PS: I'm still in dilemma about my mode of transport to office :-(
Update: I take the office government bus now! my own bike now. Buses too crowded :(


uleadin said...

aaargh! looks like a parthiban vadivelu comedy calculation!

LVS said...



give it a thought!

Rukmani Ram said...

Did you think about companies encouraging ppl like you to bike pool.. and the company itself, to use smaller vans instead of bikes?

LVS said...

thanks for mentioning that!
i forgot to mention pooling in the post..
yes, that is an option. however, i'm not aware if companies really do encourage their employees to do that..
I am planning to talk to a my Admin/HR people about that! :-)

Anuradha said...

Foremost, KUDOS for the New Found, New Age, New Unit of Measure !

My calculations say you have been inefficient in Commutage by ~274.5km-people @22.5km-people/l over the past three months alone(one way to/fro the office).

Going forward with your dilemma, (i.e) as you are not cent% confident on the purpose of commuting by bike, the purpose factor in your commutage should be weighed down by atleast 25%. Tat makes you more inefficient in fuel usage.

Though i don't accuse you of criminally wasting resources under an unnumbered section of IPC, better act responsibly.

Finally, the moral of your apologue on Fuel usage(/wastage) (as i see is) is "Doing one's bit and byte for the earth is (also) in commuting by company bus to work"

TD5M4PP3R said...

Uh! I walked down to college for an entire week :D Saved several litres I'm sure. Also, there's the possibility of a rowboat to office. Its great exercise

How 'bout electric scooters/cars/vans/buses? They reduce sound pollution as well!

And another idea I've always wanted is pedestrian lanes on roads. But given the exponential growth of population, I'm sure vehicles will be modified to take the Buckingham canal route in future :D

Ok :D Don't slap me for offering such terrible suggestions :D

TD5M4PP3R said...

By the waaaaaaaaaay, what you doing chit chat with admin heads? They are supposed to move in darkness and secrecy :p

LVS said...


Well, what about people who's parents drop them off at the bus stand, which is < 400 mts away, every morning?

LVS said...


I know you're eccentric enough to crawl to college, even if it didn't mean saving fuel!

Anuradha said...

--what about people who's parents drop them off at the bus stand, which is < 400 mts away, every morning?

Well, considering the last 3 months alone..
Even if i had been dropped at my stop ,on all days (which actually is not the case)...
With a vehicle tat gives ~45km/ltr, for 400mx2 (to-fro) , in ~66 days , i have consumed 1.2 lt of fuel.

Here is my confession : "I have BURNT 1.2 lt of fuel PURPOSELESSLY in the last 3 months. "
How about there ?

LVS said...

--With a vehicle tat gives ~45km/ltr

this blog is about Km-people/ltr

For one way, Commutage will be 45 for 400 mts. For return the Commutage is 0.

So you've burnt petrol at ~22.5 Km-people/ltr.

That is 3 litres.

Besides, my point is only this: save as much petrol as possible!

LVS said...

No need for confessions here!
You can start today!

TD5M4PP3R said...

God! Anudadha and you both are hopeless! Wonder if this is the trend @ Photon. Thats why God rejected me :)

Nonchalantly me said...

moola da onaku..........quite a good calculation....keep it up...

Akshaya said...

LV :) ur brilliant... why don we sell this to the UN and make money everytime they teach this in some schools?!?!?! ;)

LVS said...

i'll be more than happy if people take this thing seriously.
money can wait.