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What are the benefits of reducing car travel?

Eastern Distribution Tunnel in Sydney

Credit: NomadTales / Wikimedia Commons

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What are the benefits of reducing car travel?

How are we all doing with cutting back on our car trips? Have you managed to get onto public transport once a week, or taken your bike for a spin?

Just to keep you motivated, let's look at what the benefits of taking fewer car trips are.

Obviously, there's the prevention of climate change to think about. According to the Department of Environment, for every kilometre you travel in a large 4WD by yourself, you're emitting half a kilogram (500g) of greenhouse gas emissions. If you're driving a medium car by yourself, it's more like 300g/km.

Obviously, if you're biking or walking, you're the winner with zero emissions. Plus you'll be getting more exercise than us lazy bones on the bus.

But if you hop on a bus or train, you're still down to a tiny 30 grams per kilometre! Although public transport does create emissions, it's more efficient in terms of how many people it can move around with a smaller amount of pollution.

There's ordinary pollution as well, which is also reduced when you take public transport. "Particulate emissions" are what we think of as plain old pollution: it includes things like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and benzene.

They come out of any vehicle, they're not good for your health if you breathe them in, and they contribute to smog. Again, any efforts to reduce this are a good thing for us all, and cutting back on car travel will help.

And then there's the dollars and cents. Apparently the average Aussie household spends about $2,500 each year on fuel. With rising fuel prices, anything you can do to cut back on that will be a big help to your budget. I can certainly think of better things to do with my money than spend it on fuel, and I bet you can too!

If you live in Adelaide or Perth, you can use their public transport calculators to work out exactly how much money and greenhouse gases you'll be saving by making your journey by bus or train instead of car.

If you know of similar calculators for other cities, please let me know in the comments.