Author Topic: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute  (Read 1453 times)

jax8

• Posts: 94
• Age: 40
• Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« on: February 19, 2018, 10:03:20 AM »
My husband commutes 43 miles each way into Pittsburgh for his job.  His normal schedule is 3 days at the office, 2 days work-from-home.  Sometimes he has to drive to other sites alone during his work day (company reimburses mileage) and needs to have a car.  Occasionally he has overnight travel and again, gets reimbursed and needs a car.

I'd like him to look into the local charter bus that drives commuters into the city, and use it on days when he doesn't have to go offsite.  It's pretty nice! It's clean with cushy seats you can lean back and nap! Read a book!  Lean back and let someone else drive!  My husband is horrified and won't even give it shot.

Will someone check my math?  I can't get through to him and I think I need a powerpoint or something...

DRIVING CAR COST

43 miles x 2 = 86 miles
Car efficiency (2012 Chevy Cruze) x \$3.00 per gallon gas = \$3.34 x 2 = \$6.68 each day in gas costs
Wear and tear per mile estimate = .60 cents per mile x 86 = \$51.60 <--- is this right? That seems insanely high!
Car = PAID OFF
Parking = \$6.50 per day

TOTAL PER DAY = \$64.78 (He's going to witch about that wear and tear figure, so maybe real cost is \$13.18?)

(I'm not adding in car insurance because he still has to drive the car other days, and we can't drop the coverage.  I'm just trying to show him that his CHOICE to fire up his car each day costs him more than the bus ever could.)

RIDING THE BUS

10 trip commuter pass = \$55 divided by 10 = \$5.50 each way

TOTAL PER DAY = \$11.00

YEARLY DIFFERENCE

Driving car 3 days per week x 52 = \$10,105.65
Taking bus 3 days per week x 52 = \$1,716
Compromising and taking the bus even 1 day per week = \$572 yearly savings

Is that right?!?!  Is it roughly 10 times more expensive to commute in his car rather than ride the bus?  Even in a paid off car?

terran

• Magnum Stache
• Posts: 3480
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2018, 10:19:59 AM »
Yeah, that maintenance amount seems high. The IRS uses a mileage rate of 54.5 cents/mile all in for maintenance, gas, depreciation, insurance.

If we use some pretty high numbers all the way around:

\$20k car that is worth nothing after 100k miles (obviously not realistic) = \$20k
3 sets of \$500 tires = \$1500
20 oil changes at \$50 every 5k miles = \$1000
A big tuneup at 60k miles = \$1000
30mpg at \$3/gal = \$10k
Total = \$33.5k / 100k miles = \$0.335/mile all in (except insurance)

You'll still need to pay for insurance on top of that, but you only get rid of that if you get rid of the car entirely.

Zamboni

• Magnum Stache
• Posts: 2974
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2018, 10:22:33 AM »
Does the bus go right from your driveway to right next to his office building? Does it operate frequently (like every 15-20 minutes) and at the exact times he wants to travel? Does it operate in the middle of the day if something happens and he needs to leave mid day? Is there shelter where he can wait for the bus at both ends of the trip, or is he going to get at least partially wet when it is pouring down rain? Will there always be a seat available to him, or will he be forced to stand sometimes for the duration of the trip?

I commuted by bus for years and have decided this:
the convenience of the bus is a myth propagated by people who never have to ride the bus.

Edited to say I agree with terran on a more realistic mileage rate. You will not save nearly as much as you think, and you should value his time at something that you count when considering the cost of the bus (because there will be waiting around involved.)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:26:08 AM by Zamboni »

plog

• Stubble
• Posts: 244
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2018, 10:27:04 AM »
I don't believe there is \$.60 worth of wear and tear on a car per mile.  I believe you've used some sort of re-imbursement figure that includes gas consumption as well.  Where exactly did you get \$.60?

Additionally, for a complete analysis you should probably include time--because time is money.  I am sure it takes longer on the bus than in the car. Waht is his time worth?

Lastly, I think you are going about this all wrong.  I highly doubt the sole reason your husband isn't taking the bus is math based.  I am sure he has fears about being without a car, about being late, about whatever that will never be assuaged by any spreadsheet.  Find out why he won't and then try and counter those instead of assuming the answer is always math.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:31:27 AM by plog »

ketchup

• Magnum Stache
• Posts: 4308
• Age: 30
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2018, 10:28:41 AM »
My car is about \$0.24/mile to drive, including gas, depreciation, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and registration.  Your Cruze probably isn't too far off, so that works out to be about \$20/day.  So driving is about double the cost of taking the bus.

If the bus takes the exact same amount of time, and is convenient, it's a no-brainer.  It probably doesn't, so the calculation is fuzzier.  But \$10/day savings is \$300/month\$120/month, nothing to sneeze at.  Talk to him more about his actual concerns.

Personally, my bus vs car calculation is \$3 in car expenses or \$2.25 in bus fare.  I drive most days (~25min), since the bus takes an hour, plus the half hour walk on each end, so I have to get up an hour earlier.  It's good as a fallback plan when needed (we're a one-car couple so I need to leave the car a couple days a month on average), but there's no way I'd do it every day.

EDIT: math derp, thanks for the correction
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:50:15 AM by ketchup »

Zamboni

• Magnum Stache
• Posts: 2974
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2018, 10:43:37 AM »
^ Since he only drives to that office ~3x per week, at best it is \$120 a month savings. And that is if you don't consider his time to be worth anything.

Other things to consider (since I have been in the bus riding trenches):

When there is a traffic jam, a person in a car or on a bike or on foot easily chooses to divert to a flowing route. A person on a bus is stuck on the bus in traffic . . . even if the traffic is completely stopped on that road for a long period of time, buses rarely go off route and the driver would need special permission from dispatch to do that. Similarly, the bus driver will not let you get off unless he or she is at a bus stop (for safety reasons). You can't just decide "screw this, I'm getting off right now to catch a cab!" You are literally trapped on the bus.

In bad weather, many more bus drivers call in sick than on a sunny day (source: my Mom who was a city bus driver). So, the bus is supposed to show up on schedule, perhaps every 20 minutes, but you might not actually see one for an hour if it is snowing. Same is true if there is bad traffic on the route leading up to your stop . . . it will be a Loooooong time before that bus shows up on some days.

I can go on . . .

jax8

• Posts: 94
• Age: 40
• Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2018, 12:14:59 PM »
^ Since he only drives to that office ~3x per week, at best it is \$120 a month savings. And that is if you don't consider his time to be worth anything.

Other things to consider (since I have been in the bus riding trenches):

When there is a traffic jam, a person in a car or on a bike or on foot easily chooses to divert to a flowing route. A person on a bus is stuck on the bus in traffic . . . even if the traffic is completely stopped on that road for a long period of time, buses rarely go off route and the driver would need special permission from dispatch to do that. Similarly, the bus driver will not let you get off unless he or she is at a bus stop (for safety reasons). You can't just decide "screw this, I'm getting off right now to catch a cab!" You are literally trapped on the bus.

In bad weather, many more bus drivers call in sick than on a sunny day (source: my Mom who was a city bus driver). So, the bus is supposed to show up on schedule, perhaps every 20 minutes, but you might not actually see one for an hour if it is snowing. Same is true if there is bad traffic on the route leading up to your stop . . . it will be a Loooooong time before that bus shows up on some days.

I can go on . . .

Thanks for this perspective!  These are all probably reasons why he doesn't want to bother with the bus, but he blows me off with, "It's not saving that much!!!"

The bus pick up is on Main Street in our small town at 6:52 AM, which we can see from the top our hill.  It's less than 2 miles away.  We all leave our house at 7:10 AM--me with the kids for daycare drop off before work, husband heading straight to work.  I drive past the bus stop on my way to daycare so I could theoretically drop him off if we all left 35 minutes earlier.  "Daycare" is grandma who lives across town, and the main reason we still live in this small town instead of moving closer to husband's work.

(Leaving 35 minutes earlier would be a hardship for everyone in the family.  I won't pretend it won't be.)

There are NOT multiple buses coming every 20 minutes, or even every hour.  If he misses the bus home, for example, he has to wait 1.5 hours for the next bus.  The only mid-day route back home is at 1:25 pm.  So...you're right.  He's stuck down there for the duration. There is no emergency coming home.

The home bus stop is covered, but I don't know about the Pittsburgh stop.  The stop is actually the same lot where he parks his car, so whether he rides the bus or drives he has a 15 minute walk to and from his office in the city.  He's already in the elements no matter what he does.

He would arrive at the stop in our town at 5:20.  I would be driving through that area at between 5:30-5:40 after picking up the kids after work.  He'd have to wait 20 minutes max.  It's downtown in our city, and there are a few restaurants/bars/coffee shops where he could sit down and get out of the elements until I get there. We have cell phones so we could stay in touch during delays.

He also could avoiding riding/waiting on me if he wanted to drive his car to the bus stop and park in the lot there.  It seems wasteful to do that, since I'm driving right by there, but I guess it's no more wasteful than following the same bus down the highway in his car.

If our roles were switched and I worked in Pittsburgh, I would give the bus a shot.  I may discover that it was absolutely terrible and I wanted my car back, but I would want to try it first.  We have friends who have used this same bus line in the past and didn't experience problems with it.  It sounds like a decent alternative than driving in every day.

And yes, I'm saying all of this as someone who has never had to take a bus to work.  I see it driving past and I've caught it making stops, and it looks like a nice bus to me.  It's a charter bus, not a city line.

Zamboni

• Magnum Stache
• Posts: 2974
Re: Check my math? Bus versus car for commute
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2018, 12:33:28 PM »
Well, this all takes me back to the chorus:
The convenience of the bus is a myth propagated by people who don't have to ride the bus.

You all have to leave the house substantially earlier to catch the bus, and there is no margin for error as there isn't a second bus following shortly. I hope he is a morning person! He has to leave work fairly early to catch the returning bus  . . . and dear God he can't miss this one bus or he is really stuck there for a long time. When the bus drops him back in your town, he can duck into a coffee shop (cha ching!) or just stand on the curb waiting for you. Fun times!

In the end, I predict that you will not save a dime doing this and that he will at a minimum get frustrated by the lack of flexibility. There will be days when you argue over a missed bus in the morning. Worst case, his boss declares he is not dedicated enough to his job because he has to leave "early" all the time and sacks him. When my Mom drove the commuter bus, she did note that it was almost always men who were dropping off women to join the bus, not the other way around. Sexist? Yes. Will his boss think it is awesome that he is riding the bus, or will his boss be embarrassed and look down on him for it?

I can see doing this for environmental reasons, which is a highly worthwhile reason in itself, but not for saving money.