This question title is misleading: "Is public transport worse than cars?"
The actual question text is,
"... told me that public transport (buses, trains and so on) are less efficient than individual cars. ... an average car doing 35 mpg ..."
The top-voted answer replies, "Yes, public transportation appears to be worse than cars" and it then goes on to talk about BTUs per passenger mile.
In another forum I would edit a title to match the question, but here the title is important to the original woo. So:
Would you prefer to edit the title to match the question, for example (less popular and attention-grabbing):
Are buses less fuel-efficient than cars, given the current average vehicle occupancy rates?
Or, keep the original title but accept answers which address that title, along the lines of:
Notwithstanding the average occupancy, buses are better than cars for several other reasons, as follows (list of other reasons: social, economic, urban planning).
-Edit to reply to the first comment-
Would you be okay replacing "worse" with "less efficient"? I admit I have having a bit of trouble understanding the problem.
I'm having trouble understanding your comment:
- You don't understand how a title can be misleading?
- You don't understand why this particular title is misleading?
- You don't understand why I'm puzzled about what to do about it?
How a title can be misleading.
Let me try another hypothetical example, more extreme in order to illustrate the point (and let's assume for the sake of this example that there is a case to be made against slavery).
- Question title: Is slavery better than freedom?
- Question text: My friend told me that slaves are treated quite well by their owners, and don't have the hassle of having to manage their own property.
- Answer: Yes, slavery is better than freedom! Extensive studies show that (because slaves are expensive) it's in owners' interests to keep them healthy: so, to that extent it's true that slaves are generally not mistreated. It's also true that, because a slave is property, he or she cannot own property.
How this title is of that category.
"Good" and "Average fuel efficiency" are not the same thing.
There are arguments other than the "average fuel efficiency" which are worth mentioning if you really want to consider whether "public transport is worse than cars"; for example:
- Peak capacity (public transport reduces rush-hour traffic)
- Parking (leave the car at home)
- Urban density (because of the above, cities can be denser than they could be if people only used their own cars); and urban density enables a ton of other efficiencies
- Social benefits (school kids, the working poor, senior citizens can travel without owning a private car, having a chauffeur, or paying for taxis)
Why I'm puzzled about what to do about it
If this place is supposed to be like myth-busters then the original misleading title is part of the myth ("Public transport is worse than cars because of low occupancy and high fuel costs during off-peak hours") ... which implies that one shouldn't change the title.
On the other hand, answering the title instead of (or as well as) answering the question leaves you open to charges that you're not answering the question.
But answering the question text without challenging the question title implies that you've bought in to the premise that's implied by the title.