Price of Gas and Public Transit

Well all good things do have to end. My free rides to work have recently come to a close so I was looking at my options for getting to work. I had an offer to car pool with someone so I actually looked at driving to work and here is the breakdown of my options.

  1. Public Transit (Bus). Cost: $57/month (can also file for a credit of about $7 of it on income tax). Time required: 12 minutes walking, 20 minutes on bus = 32 minutes. Comments: Not a bad option in the summer/spring/fall but it sucks waiting for the bus in the winter. I’m stuck to a set schedule of times. Yet cost is really cheap compared to current gas prices.
  2. Car Pool. Cost: $115+/month. Time required: 20 minutes. Comments: On the plus side car pooling can be more flexible on leave/pick up times yet significant more costs involved. Also if I could pool with more than one person it would bring the costs down. Very sensitive to current gas prices.
  3. Bike/Public Transit. Cost: varies. Time required: Same as 1 or unknown. Comments: In this case I could pick up a used bicycle and use that for at least 3 months of the year to save $171 annually. Issues around this is unknown time required and likely requires a second set of cloths to do it. I’m actually considering this option but it does require me to invest some money in getting a bike (I haven’t own one in years now).

After looking at my options it seems driving to work even in a car pool is still expensive given the time difference to the bus and the possible increases to the cost of gas. So starting today I’m going to be a dedicated bus user. I’m also going to keep an eye open for a used bicycle as that might be a good option to get some additional exercise and cut costs in the future.

8 thoughts on “Price of Gas and Public Transit”

  1. Cycling is definitely rewarding, and a used bike can be had for only around $50-$100. If maintained, a bike will last you decades.

    If your drive is 20 minutes, you’ll probably be able to make the same distance by bike within 30-35 minutes. My commute is about 25 minutes by car, and it takes about 35-40 minutes by bike (11km each way). It also has the side benefit of zero emissions, near-zero ongoing operating costs, and it’s great for your health!

  2. I parked my car one summer and biked to work, saved a bunch of money and got lots of exercise.

    Unfortunately now, in order to bike to work I’d have to travel down several very busy roads with a very narrow shoulder and no alternate route… and I don’t feel like putting my life in the hands of these crazy Edmontonian drivers.

  3. I took public transit solely for about four years. Broke down and bought a (compact, fuel-efficient) car last summer. I work in an office building at a corporation and the bus was getting to be too much. I couldn’t stay 5 minutes late to wrap up a meeting because I’d miss my bus, miss my connecting bus and then end up getting home an hour later than usual. I couldn’t leave 5 minutes late in the morning for the same reason. And when it was raining, I’d arrive at work with the cuffs of my pants soaking wet.

    I had to keep all of my good “work shoes” at work and wear sneakers to/from work.

    And during the winter, I’d be the only one wearing a big puffy down-filled coat and scarf, toque, and gloves to guard against the brutal -30 Ottawa winters, while everyone else arrived with perfect hair & makeup and light wool car coats.

    The inconvenience and ridiculousness of it all just got to me. I’m so happy to have a car now. It’s only about a 10 to 15 minute drive to work in the mornings, and my fiance and I split the costs and share the car. Even with the recent spike in gas prices we’re only spending about $100 to $150 a month in gas.

    Compare that to all of our friends who live in the suburbs spending $500+ a month on gas 🙂 So glad we bought a fixer-upper in the city and not a new custom build out in the suburbs!

  4. @Sarlock: It’s funny you mention that you’re in Edmonton – so am I! I commute a fairly long distance into downtown, and 90% of my route is on side-streets and bike paths. You might want to check out one of the bike route maps published by the city – the bike routes are typically side-streets that run parallel to the busier “arteries”.

    @Pam: Driving can be an effective way to get to work, and it sounds like you’re striking the right balance. Far too many people, though, consider commuting by car to be their only option, without taking the time to explore the alternatives.

    I drive to work on occasion, bike in the summer, and take transit on other days. A lot of it epends on the weather and what other plans I might have for the day. The key is to keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

  5. Well I guess I’m going to have to look into biking a bit more. Sounds like some other people really like it.

    Thanks for writing about the other side of why not to take the bus. Yes sometimes it is worth driving. I recall working once at a office which was so far removed from public transit I just decided to drive it.

    Even today I sometimes will call my wife to pick me up if I work late or if the weather really sucks I’ll just break down and drive the car and pay to park for the day. I think sometimes people get so caught up in the cost they forget quality of life is also important when you decide things.


  6. Tim, I should also mention I do ride my bike from time to time 🙂 It’s very enjoyable as long as you don’t encounter any jerk drivers who won’t share the road!

  7. Get a bike, get a bike, get a bike! I think it is an essential in life, like a microwave or a washing machine. It may be costly in the beginning, but like another person said, it will last for years and years! A $300 bike lasting 10 years will only cost you $30 a year!

    If you do begin to enjoy biking, you might find that you take it downtown for a trip to the drug store, or with your wife to have a meal somewhere, or to the dentist. I love my bike and use it all the time from May to October. As a result I have cut down on car use tremendously.

    @Pam: it sounds like the car was a good decision for you. I think having one car between two people is much better than everyone needing to own a car. Enjoy!

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