Something Doesn't Smell Right 

In my opinion, Scott Bass has made several errors in his article "Running on Fumes" (News & Features, Jan. 10). He says that more fuel-efficient cars such as Priuses will make things worse for the environment, because they occupy highway space and pay less tax; hence new roads cannot be built. He says that the result will be more congestion and more idling, increasing fuel consumption.

However, a Prius (and probably other hybrids) does not consume any gasoline when it is stopped. So fuel consumption will not be increased.

He further says that cars are more efficient than buses, which are more efficient than light rail. That is not the case. Suppose 49 passengers want to go somewhere. A Prius requires two gallons of gasoline per 100 miles, so if each one gets in a Prius, the result will be a colossal 49-car traffic jam that will consume 98 gallons per 100 miles. Put those passengers in seven Dodge Caravans, each with seven passengers. A Caravan consumes five gallons per 100 miles, so the result is 35 gallons per 100 miles, a 64 percent reduction, and only a seven-vehicle jam will result. Put those passengers in a 49-passenger bus which consumes 6 mpg, and 17 gallons will be consumed per 100 miles, yet another 50 percent reduction and no jam. Finally, put them on a car in a rail system; such a car consumes 14 gallons per 100 miles, yielding more improvement.

The bigger vehicles are much preferable, and I believe this nation will do itself a lot of good by reconstructing its light rail system and bus network.

Finally, if less fuel is consumed due to more efficient vehicles, the tax on gasoline should go up. It should go up anyway to discourage people from consuming more fuel than they need. It will help us get independent of oil.

Jim Blowers

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