Author Topic: Help me figure out my transportation expense...  (Read 3877 times)

Hey It's Me

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Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« on: May 09, 2015, 08:52:42 AM »
Hi,

I just started my first real job out of college (technically still my last semester) earlier this year. I've optimized a lot of my spending, but one area still seems to remain out of reach: transportation.

Core Fixed Expenses:
 - Rent: 500
 - Transportation: $123
 - Phone: $30
 - Gym: $11
 - Health/Vision/Dental Insurance: $50

As you can see, the fixed expenses are fairly optimized, except for transportation, which I can't seem to get a handle on. I live in a large metro area, and the monthly unlimited bus pass costs me $116 for 30 days. Undoubtedly, I take at least one express bus ride per month when I'm running late, and that costs $6.50.

I want to get this cost down, because it makes no sense to me to be spending so much on such a shitty part of my life. Commuting to work costs me 3 hours each day by public transportation because I need to take a bus, ferry, and a train to get to work. It's exhausting, but allows me to get super cheap rent in one of highest COL areas in the US.

What options do I have in terms of making transportation cheaper?

Things I've been tossing around:
  • Biking: bought a bike and went 2 months without buying a bus pass, but eventually I just stopped wanting to go anywhere because my area has super steep hills and I just get too exhausted. Obviously the cheapest option, but not something I'd revisit until I absolutely have to.
  • Electric Scooter: I know they get hate for looking lame, but I keep reading these get 70-100 miles/gallon, and insurance quotes seem to be super low. Can anyone vouch, or give me advice here if you own one? This would allow me to cut my commute from 90 minutes to 45 minutes one-way.
  • Motorcycle: my understanding is this is a bit more expensive than a scooter, but also a bit cooler. Meh. Again, totally admit my ignorance for these two options, so please let me know your experiences. Same time-savings as scooter.

Other options totally appreciated too.


Here is what matters to me, in order of importance:
  • Reliability
  • Cost
  • Speed getting me to/from places
  • Ease of use
« Last Edit: May 09, 2015, 09:02:28 AM by moe_rants »

Hey It's Me

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2015, 09:20:32 PM »
Bumping up for an answer.

To clarify, the direct mile commute to work is 12 miles, but the reason why it takes so long via public transport is I have to change modes of transportation (bus-->ferry-->train) twice during the trip. Biking takes about an hour (35 minutes biking, 25 minutes on the ferry). Driving takes ~30 minutes because of traffic.

Raislin

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2015, 09:34:16 PM »
This may or may not apply due to terrain differences, but going even a little slower while bicycling can make a huge impact on your effort vs time.  Adding 10 minutes to your bike commute so that you can go at a more leisurely pace helps significantly.  My commute is 10 miles each way on bike right now.  There are only a few hills, but it's very windy almost everyday.  I can fly top speed and do it in 40-45 minutes, or take my time and do it in 55-60 without breaking a sweat.

Also -- gun it going downhill and don't be afraid to spin that low gear or even walk up tall steep hills.  The velocity you can achieve from the downhill portion can usually carry you up quite far before you have to put in any noticeable effort.  My commute has been more of an exercise in intelligent biking than endurance.

Hey It's Me

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2015, 10:02:14 PM »
Also -- gun it going downhill and don't be afraid to spin that low gear or even walk up tall steep hills.  The velocity you can achieve from the downhill portion can usually carry you up quite far before you have to put in any noticeable effort.  My commute has been more of an exercise in intelligent biking than endurance.

I'm glad you mentioned that bolded section. I think part of my frustration with biking was that I was consistently walking up two of the REALLY steep hills on the way to work and just felt like a total chump. The energy wasted on those hills just exhausted me and by the time I got to the top, I didn't really trust myself to gun in. I'm in better shape now, though, because of gym/exercise (lost 10-15 pounds since) so maybe I'll take a second stab at it.

Thanks for the feedback Raslin.

I really would like some feedback on scooters/motorcycles though, if anyone has tried them.

MDM

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2015, 10:45:24 PM »
I was consistently walking up two of the REALLY steep hills
As the saying goes, one has to know one's limitations.  Everyone has limits.  Technology (e.g., electric assist) can help, but before giving up on low tech solutions: what is your lowest gear ratio (number of teeth on the smallest front gear divided by the number of teeth on the largest back gear)?

An applicable quote from http://www.caree.org/bike101doublevstriple.htm:
Quote
Many people (particularly men) have this macho-thing about being strong enough to climb a hill without the help of so-called granny gears Thereís not much you can do about this type of attitude. The only "cure" is a pair of busted knees, and that "cure" usually ends the cyclists' riding career.
...
And there are truthfully some people so strong that they donít need a triple crankset, or for inexplicable reasons just donít have a whole lot of trouble climbing in very tall gears at very high speeds. Alas, there are few of us so afflicted.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2015, 02:42:22 AM »
Honestly I don't think you're doing too badly.

An ebike is probably not bad if you're after assistance on the hills, and wouldn't have the ongoing costs of a motorbike or scooter.

It might even be worth taking that hit to your savings rate and just moving closer to work, even if the rent is more expensive.

BikeFanatic

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2015, 06:33:19 AM »
I think an Ebike would be a good alternative, They are getting cheaper, there are rear hub motors on Ebay now,  1000 watts
should do it. The total expense of an Ebike will be close to 1000 once you include the batttery. Then, Will they let you take it on the ferry?

If you decide on Ebike let me know 0 I will give you links.

Hey It's Me

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2015, 06:42:32 AM »
MDM that description fits me very well - thank you. I'm not too sure about the gears on my bike, just that it is a 3-gear and none of them help much on the steeper hills.

Thanks guys, for the eBike suggestion - honestly I hadn't even thought of it! eBikes seem like a better option, since I'm assuming there is no mandatory insurance requirement for them. I know there are ways to convert a bike into an eBike - should I get one of those kits, or go for a new bike?

@BikeFanatic, some suggestions for bikes for most definitely be appreciated! I think I should be allowed to carry the e-bike on to a ferry, but that's something I'd have to reach out to the DOT about before purchasing, for sure.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2015, 07:30:35 AM »
Does your bike feel like it fits you? If so, go ahead and put a kit on it. Endless-sphere is the best forum for e-bikes. I never got past the research stage, but a front hub motor is by far the easiest DIY option.

3 speeds probably won't have any good hill climbing ratios, so no surprise you were having problems. If the existing bike doesn't fit you ideally, consider getting  a hybrid and modifying that. Or, with a hybrid, perhaps the gearing will be good enough for you to get up the hills without being too wiped.

Trek's FX line, Specialized Sirrus, and Giant Escape are all dependable choices but plenty of smaller builders make good hybrids. For sure you need something that can take a rear rack, because that's where the batteries need to go.

Keep an eye on CL though: ebikes aren't super common where I'm at, but I've still seen a few for sale used for <75% of a bike+kit.

MDM

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 08:50:37 AM »
For much less than $1000 you could get a good bike with 3 chain rings up front and some number in the back.  With the chain on the small ring up front those hills might not be so bad and the electric assist not needed.  Maybe try a loaner from a local shop...?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help me figure out my transportation expense...
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2015, 10:25:28 AM »
For much less than $1000 you could get a good bike with 3 chain rings up front and some number in the back.  With the chain on the small ring up front those hills might not be so bad and the electric assist not needed.  Maybe try a loaner from a local shop...?

That's an excellent suggestion. If there's a bike shop anywhere near the problem hills, ask for a test ride on a hybrid and see how bad it is with appropriate gearing. Not saying you then need to buy from the LBS, as used bikes offer significant value over new, but that's a no-risk way to evaluate that solution.