S.F. to L.A.: Fly or Drive?

downtown Los Angeles skyline

Heading for Los Angeles? Should you take a plane or car?


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Time: 6 hours
Cost: $103
Greenhouse gas emissions: 169 pounds of CO2e
Chance of a fatal accident: 1 in 300,000

Time: 3.5 hours
Cost: $82
Greenhouse gas emissions: 181 pounds of CO2e
Chance of a fatal accident: 1 in 8,000,000

Assuming plans stay on track, in 2018 a high-speed train will race between San Francisco and Los Angeles in three hours for two-thirds the price of a plane ticket. Until then, is it smarter to fly or to drive? We compared car and jetliner travel time, cost, greenhouse gas emissions, and risk of death from a crash. The flying time includes travel to and from the airport and average waiting time, and driving cost and emissions assume a driver and a passenger in the car. For more detail on how we got our numbers, see below.

S.F. to L.A.: How We Got the Numbers

Photography by Pdphoto.org

This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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