Author Topic: Commuting Dilemma  (Read 976 times)

pompom12

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Commuting Dilemma
« on: July 18, 2018, 10:36:13 PM »
Hi everyone! Iíve been reading the blog posts about the commuting cost and environmental impact of driving. Iím thinking of making changes in how Iím commuting to work. Please help me decide :) What would you do in my situation?

Work is 40 miles each way. Due to flexible hours, Iíve been coming to work in off peak hours. It takes me 1 hour each way (drive, park, walk to office)x. Gas cost is about $185/month at $3.50/gallon.

Another option is to take the train to work. There are 2 train stations around me. One is 1 mile away (limited schedule).Train ticket would cost about $300/month. If I use this station, I can just walk. Another station is 6.5 miles away but due to high traffic road, it takes me about 20-25 mins to drive there. Train ticket is $230/month. I could also bike to the train station but biking would probably take 30-35 mins, and it would add more time to work related task. I already work out regularly so I donít think of biking as additional way for me to exercise. But I can be convinced otherwise.

In short, here are my options
1. Continue to drive to work. 40 miles each way. Total commute time around 1 hour 5 mins each way. $185/month in gas
2. Take the train near my house. 1 mile walk to train station. Limited schedule, so if there is a delay, it might suck. Eliminate the use of car. Total commute time would be around 1 hour and 45 mins each way but I can do personal stuff during the train ride. $300/month train ticket
3. Take the train 6.5 miles away. Either drive 20-25 mins to train station or bike 35 mins to train station. Total commute time around 1 hour and 20-30 mins each way depends if I drive or bike to train station.  $230/month train ticket. If I drive, I have to count the gas to get to the station too.

I appreciate any thoughts! :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2018, 11:09:24 PM by pompom12 »

lukebuz

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 04:54:16 AM »
Comes down to how much you dislike the act of driving.  If you don't mind the drive in your own car vs being ferried to work on a train, then drive.  If sitting and scrolling facebook (or doing your work??) is better for you, then train.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 05:09:55 AM »
Can you move closer to work?

The train will be safer and less stressful. Trains do get delayed, but they donít sit in traffic, so I imagine that part is a wash. Are you paying to park at work?

Are you actually getting 30 MPG the way it looks like you are for the cost calculation?

Does your work offer a commuter savings account that could let you buy your train pass with pretax money?

elliha

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 05:25:13 AM »
I think the easy answer is a trial run with the train options. Pay for one month from one location then the other and try both bike and car for the one further away and walking and biking for the other one and compare it to driving. If you can buy a set number of trips instead of a monthly card you may also do a mixture. I do this for parts of the year and mix biking and the bus.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 06:21:14 AM by elliha »

Bayou Dweller

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 06:06:52 AM »
Sounds like for driving you're only calculating the cost of gas into your factors here. If you did a simple $0.50 per mile calculation, you'd see that over 20 days of commuting (5 days a week) is actually $800 a month (80 miles per day * 20 days * $0.50).

Either train is cheaper and sounds like you'll have to utilize healthy ways to get to the train: walking or biking.

For now I'd transition to the train, but if it is at all possible (and it usually actually is), I'd strongly recommend you moving closer to work. Especially if you plan on working for the next 5 years or more. Over 1 hour on a train sounds miserable to me, but assuming you could read a book or utilize the internet to do productive things, it actually might not be so bad.

sparkytheop

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 08:02:13 AM »
In your situation I'd probably check out the closer train and go between that and driving.  I drove a 45 mile/40 minute commute for a lot of years, and sometimes the drive just gets old.  I like riding the train though (and really wish it was an option here, but it's not).

Another possible option-- carpooling.  Do you have anyone who lives and works in the same area you do?  It was really nice to not have to put all the wear and tear, mileage, and drive time in myself.  Cut down on the expenses a lot as well.

merula

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 08:24:33 AM »
I think of bikes as a great solution to the "last mile" problem. Biking to the closer train station would also cut down on your commute time (by probably 10 minutes?), and might be preferable in inclement weather. (Biking in the snow/rain is actually easier than walking the same distance.)

Is your current workout something that could be partially replaced by biking? I bike ~4 miles to work each way a few times a week, and while it's ~30 minutes longer than my other commuting options, I'm getting a good cardio and leg/core strength workout for two blocks of 20 minutes, so I don't usually do a separate workout those days.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2018, 08:53:02 AM »
#3.  I bike 8 miles to and from work everyday (except extreme ice/snow).  It's an optimal cardio workout amount for me.  Bring things to do with you on the train (work, book from library, etc.).  You'll really get tight/shed body fat.  You won't need to do any other cardio.

robartsd

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2018, 11:22:38 AM »
Your options (values per one-way trip):
  • Drive 40 miles to work. 1 hour. $4.67 for gas, $10-20 total car expenses.
  • Carpool 40 miles. 1 hour plus time meeting carpool. Driving cost shared per agreement.
  • Walk to closer train station. 1:45 (20 minute walk + 1:25 train). $7.50 ticket.
  • Bike to closer train station. 1:30 (5 minute bike + 1:25 train). $7.50 ticket.
  • Bike to further train station. 1:30 (35 minutes bike + 55 minutes train). $5.75 ticket. Cardio workout.
  • Drive to further train station. 1:20 (25 minute drive + 55 minutes train). $5.75 ticket + $3.25 total car expenses.
If the car is not used for commute, can you eliminate it completely?

Personally, if moving isn't an option (my preference is bike commute < 1hr) I'd choose one of the bike to a train station options. If tickets don't have pass discounts and bikes can travel on the trains, I'd consider the closer station for the trip to work and the further station for the trip home  to get the cardio workout after work. If bike must stay at station, what facilities are there to protect bike during the day? If bike at station and no concerns about facilities at either station, I might switch off days depending on weather and how I'm feeling.

CalBal

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2018, 11:36:04 AM »
If it were me, personally, I would try the train options as others have suggested. Your actual cost is currently higher than $185 for gas, you are putting a lot of miles on your car. You can radio or podcast with the car, but on a train you could also read (I am a big reader so this is a plus), nap, or even get some work done. Maybe you could do some of your work on the train so you wouldn't have to put a full 8 hours in at the office, making that option even more efficient.

Alternatively you could try to find a carpool or van pool. My father was in a van pool when I was growing up. He was one of the drivers so he got a discount on the cost. The distance was also about 40 miles/1 hour drive time. The times he didn't have to drive (and all the passengers who never drove) got to use that time for napping or socializing or reading or whatever. Plus no gas cost. They had a 10-person van and it was sponsored/provided by his company (for a cost, it wasn't free).

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2018, 01:53:35 PM »
At my old job, I had a 65 mile (~75 minute) driving commute each way, and at my new job I have a 90 minute train commute. After 18 months at the old job I was going insane from the commute, but three years into the new job I've gotten used to the train (currently working my way through the Final Fantasy series). Just for that, I'd eliminate option #1.

Also, the train is probably less expensive. As CalBal mentioned, with driving there's wear and tear on your car that needs to be taken into consideration. But there's more! A train pass can be paid for using pre-tax (and pre-FICA) dollars, so that $300 pass may only reduce your monthly take home by $200.

pompom12

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 08:36:22 AM »
Thank you everyone who had taken the time to give helpful responses! I'm not able to move closer to work at the moment. Commuter check isn't offered at my work place as there isn't much interest. I will try the train closer to home next month and see how it goes.

Thank you for the reminder that driving would cost more than just gas. I probably won't need a car if not for work but I'm worry I might need it to run errands. I like the idea of not having a car though! I just need to grow my mustache more :) For people who have given up on owning a car, do you still pay non-owner car insurance? How much cheaper is it compared having a full insurance? I'm paying $200 for 6 month insurance at the moment.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 08:41:11 AM by pompom12 »

Rubic

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 09:49:16 AM »
For people who have given up on owning a car, do you still pay non-owner car insurance? How much cheaper is it compared having a full insurance? I'm paying $200 for 6 month insurance at the moment.

For a couple years I had non-owner car insurance from GEICO.  It was about $200 per year.
I would definitely recommend it for the liability protection.

merula

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Re: Commuting Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2018, 12:06:24 PM »
For people who have given up on owning a car, do you still pay non-owner car insurance? How much cheaper is it compared having a full insurance? I'm paying $200 for 6 month insurance at the moment.

(Full disclosure, I work for an insurance company.) Non-owned auto insurance is a GREAT thing to have for anyone who doesn't have a car. It'll cover you if you borrow a car and later find out that the owner let the insurance lapse or didn't have much coverage. It'll cover you when you rent cars so you don't have to get the exorbitant rental company insurance. $200 a year is a good estimate for a $300,000 limit.

The one thing about non-owned auto insurance is that most people don't buy it, so it can be somewhat harder to come across. You may need to call in to talk to someone or go through an independent insurance agent (which I would recommend anyway, to be honest).

I would also highly recommend getting uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as an add-on, to this or any other auto policy. That covers you if you're injured by someone who doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have very much. Many states have minimum limits of $10,000, which doesn't go very far at all towards hospital bills. This would even cover you if you were hit by an uninsured car while walking or biking.