Riding on Air

I’ve never understood why so many buses are air-conditioned, especially in this rather temperate country of ours. The commuter buses it seems a no brainer – openable windows and customers dressed for outside conditions must be a winning formula. On long trips – there’s nothing quite as pleasant as sitting next to an open window – or nothing as worse than returning into an air-conditioned bus after a coffee break; that wicked (in a bad way) stench of fellow passengers ingrained in the nastily-patterned fabric of ergonomically-challenged seats.

It seems stranger then, in these post-fashionable days of global warming (credit-crunching being our current de rigueur), when we all know saving the planet is actually a good idea, that no one has singled out for ridicule air-conditioning on buses. I’m no mechanical engineer (and never has such a proclamation been more truely stated) – but doesn’t air-conditioning use energy? For cars opening windows increases fuel consumption on the open road but air-conditioning can also increase fuel consumption by up to 10%, and by 20% in city traffic.

But it doesn’t have to be a simple windows vs airconditioning argument. Passive ventilation systems are a way of getting fresh air and fuel economy – though I have to admit the gentle breeze through your hair is much of the open window appeal. Again perhaps the answer is in good design and IQ over energy wastage.

It really does beg the question then why so many of our stationary vehicles (buildings) invest so heavily on the old hermetically sealed environment.


4 responses to “Riding on Air”

  1. cantabrian Avatar

    it has been said that Wellington has a relatively benign climate, in terms of temperature, if not actual wind-speed. But down here in Christchurch the temperature gets way too hot to not have air con. Probably why we stick it in all our Design line buses as standard nowadays. Sorry! You can always turn it off you know…

  2. I think you miss the point, Cantab. If we turn it off, we’ll die.

    We need the windows to be made openable first.

  3. cantabrian Avatar

    Which most of them are…. haven’t you looked?

  4. Yes, but some of them aren’t. Which means if you’re by the one that doesn’t open, and the air con is off, you’ll be boiling over in no time.

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