The Real Cost of Overnight

Air couriers (including FedEx and UPS Express) fly packages to regional depots for sorting, then fly them to their destinations. UPS ground service uses trucks and trains to roll packages directly–and more efficiently–from point A to point B. Lynne Hopkins and Professor David T. Allen of UCLA report their findings of the typical number of British thermal units expended to transport a 1.5-pound package from Los Angeles to the following cities in a study for Patagonia, Inc. (For comparison, 40,000 British thermal units can illuminate a 100-watt lightbulb for 110 hours.)

Energy (in BTUs) to transport a 1.5 lb. package
(truck and rail)
Boston 1,200 46,000
Chicago 1,000 29,000
Minneapolis 1,000 32,000
Dallas 600 26,000
Miami 1,000 37,000

*The numbers in this column are averages of the two carriers.


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