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20h22 UTC; FRIDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2012: As if the mindsets and mentalities of especially "Tea Party"-deluded Zealotry and True Belief insisting that Amtrak should be euthanised "to put the good taxpayers out of their misery" in "supporting a failed social experiment***incompatible with American experience and ideas" all this time wasn't good enough in insisting that motorcoaches are better suited to handling intercity ground transport requirements (cf. common practice in parts of South America, Brazil in particular, where passenger rail services are non-existant for all purposes and intents) in line with the guiding doctrine of ekonomesie vryheid met Amerikaanse eienskappe as one with Our National and Sovereign Identity, such fails to give due and clear regard and consideration to certain obvious facts about what really matters.

For one, fuel economy.

One will want to consider where a typical Amtrak corridor-type train of about 500 miles' (810 km) distance between termini has about five day coaches (Horizon Fleet design) of 48 passengers each (with provision for a cafe/lounge car), for a total potential capacity of 240 passengers/trip ... and, by contrast, your typical intercity motorcoach (which will be represented here by a VanHool C2045 motorcoach accomodating 45 passengers, with provision for toilet and maybe a rest stop for coffee en route).

(This could be stretching things, but it's my understanding that a double-deck motorcoach is starting to see some revenue use in the United States--as in the VanHool TD925 double-deck motorcoach, which can accomodate up to 81 passengers.)

In any event, we would need 5.3 45-passenger motorcoaches (or, for that matter, just under three 81-passenger bilevel motorcoaches) to equal the potential passenger capacity of the five-coach Amtrak train we are using for illustration. Too, one needs to also consider such other factors in the equation for better determining what epitomises "Wise Use" concepts better, among them:
  • passenger load factors, as can vary from day to day, season to season;
  • number and frequency of stops on the journey;
  • average journey speed (and intermediate speed between stops);
  • relative fuel economy;
  • weather conditions and their effect on journey times; and
  • maintenance and servicing schedules, and recommended intervals.
One also needs to consider where a United States gallon of diesel fuel has a heat value of 138,000 BTU's (38,662 kilojoules/litre @ 3.785 litres/gallon); one of biodiesel, 126,200 BTU's (35,178 kilojoules/litre), which, in any event, needs to be considered in calculating BTU's/passenger mile, one particular area of importance when figuring out which mode has the better "Wise Use" qualifications.
  • Amtrak, for its part, claims that in 2009 (the most recent such available), its trains network-wide averaged 2,435 BTU's/revenue passenger mile. (Which, for the sake of our hypothetical five-coach train, would translate to 10.146 BTU's/passenger, assuming the train is constantly full.)
  • Using the VanHool C2045 motorcoach, which has a usable fuel capacity of 216 gallons, as the baseline standard, a 45-passenger motorcoach can produce 642.13 BTU's/passenger mile on diesel fuel (averaging 14.27 BTU's/passenger), 584.26 BTU's/passenger mile on biodiesel (averaging 12.983 BTU's/passenger).
  • Taking things to its ultima Thule of potential arrogance, let's consider where the VanHool TD925 double-deck motorcoach has a quoted fuel tank air capacity of 166 gallons, translating to 835.54 BTU's/passenger mile on diesel fuel (averaging, based on a potential maximim capacity of 81 passengers, 10.32 BTU's/passenger); on biodiesel, 760.24 BTU's/passenger mile (averaging 9.39 BTU's/passenger).
So which would you choose?

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