Author Topic: Commute by rail or by car?  (Read 7687 times)

norabird

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Commute by rail or by car?
« on: April 15, 2016, 10:50:40 AM »
I may be getting a new job that's in a suburb of my city. I can get there by rail (+bus/subway), but it would likely be an hour and a half, and the cost is high--would be $368 monthly, perhaps with some pre-tax. Or I can get a car and use that. I might be able to inherit a family car or the BF's car for no money, both of which would however need some maintenance. Insurance I'm assuming would be around $125 monthly, though I need to shop around again with specifics of the mileage/car I'd be driving (it might be higher--I last searched on the most minimal mileage and it was under $100 but I would be driving maybe 1,000 miles a month on average in this scenario).

The transit route would be $4,422 yearly. A car might be about the same if you factor in repairs and insurance, but would give me flexibility for weekend trips, whereas the transit expense would only be good for commuting.

It's about 20 miles away and I really don't think biking is an option. I would be reverse-commuting, so traffic wouldn't be great given the are but it would be less bad than normal. I would still have a metrocard, but for likely less money each month.

Any thoughts? I don't need to commit to either route initially.

nereo

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 11:30:28 AM »
I may be getting a new job that's in a suburb of my city. I can get there by rail (+bus/subway), but it would likely be an hour and a half, and the cost is high--would be $368 monthly, perhaps with some pre-tax. Or I can get a car and use that. I might be able to inherit a family car or the BF's car for no money, both of which would however need some maintenance. Insurance I'm assuming would be around $125 monthly, though I need to shop around again with specifics of the mileage/car I'd be driving (it might be higher--I last searched on the most minimal mileage and it was under $100 but I would be driving maybe 1,000 miles a month on average in this scenario).

The transit route would be $4,422 yearly. A car might be about the same if you factor in repairs and insurance, but would give me flexibility for weekend trips, whereas the transit expense would only be good for commuting.

It's about 20 miles away and I really don't think biking is an option. I would be reverse-commuting, so traffic wouldn't be great given the are but it would be less bad than normal. I would still have a metrocard, but for likely less money each month.

Any thoughts? I don't need to commit to either route initially.
IME - having a car always winds up being surprisingly expensive.  Not only is their daily driving costs (fuel, which changes drastically) and monthly insurance, but many states have an annual car tax (does yours?), there will be repair bills eventually (it's not uncommon for a common repair to cost $1k) and then the periodic stuff like oil changes and tires.  There's a reason why the DOD lists the reimbursement cost of driving at 24 right now with our low fuel prices.  That's about $9.60/day for a 20mi one-way commute.
 
At least with a train you know what the expenses are.  $125 monthly is bargain if you can avoid owning a car at all.  Riding on a train also allows you to do other things, like read, work or nap.

Other things to consider - do you have to pay for parking (either at home or at work)?  Are there other parts of your life that would be enhanced by owning a car?



norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 11:47:45 AM »
I agree, if it were $125 a month I'd be set! But I will be paying 368 a month for the possible new transit commute, or about $18.50 a day. It being so much money is what's motivating me to look for an alternative. I know a car might end up even more expensive, but the cost would almost feel better than almost 400 a month just to commute, with no extra mobility. A bit of an emotional reaction admittedly.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 11:52:08 AM »
The emotional burden of a substantial car commute is also significant.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2016, 12:23:24 PM »
What about the cost of parking the car? Brooklyn is not cheap and you cannot get free street side parking. If you do get streetside parking, then alternate
side parking rules will apply and you have to move the car.

I think the subway/train will comeout to a cheaper option, but more important a stress free option.

nereo

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2016, 12:39:43 PM »
I agree, if it were $125 a month I'd be set! But I will be paying 368 a month for the possible new transit commute, or about $18.50 a day. It being so much money is what's motivating me to look for an alternative. I know a car might end up even more expensive, but the cost would almost feel better than almost 400 a month just to commute, with no extra mobility. A bit of an emotional reaction admittedly.

An alternative would be ride sharing.  Most metropolitan areas have some sort of ride-share program where you can coordinate your commute with someone else.  From experience it works very well if you have a fairly set schedule, and fairly poorly if your hours change day-to-day.

As CowboyAndIndian pointed out - what's parking cost?  It's not uncommon for a monthly parking spot in a large city to cost >$200/month.

Driving every day to work also gets old fast.  Some people are better suited to it than others. Ditto for commuting on a train.  "Know thyself"

norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 12:46:18 PM »
Hmmm lots of non-car fans. Street parking is tough to find but I'd be parking at the new office during the day so no alternate side for me.

Most likely I'll start of with the rail commute and see how it feels. It is long and complicated as a process as I most likely have to transfer twice, but doable. I could always borrow BF's current car (which is living unused in NJ) for a trial of the drive if I find myself still yearning to have a more direct to-and-fro. Not sure if other employees might be driving in and if carpool might be viable with them.

nereo

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 12:51:03 PM »
Hmmm lots of non-car fans. Street parking is tough to find but I'd be parking at the new office during the day so no alternate side for me.

Most likely I'll start of with the rail commute and see how it feels. It is long and complicated as a process as I most likely have to transfer twice, but doable. I could always borrow BF's current car (which is living unused in NJ) for a trial of the drive if I find myself still yearning to have a more direct to-and-fro. Not sure if other employees might be driving in and if carpool might be viable with them.

I wouldn't say I'm a "non-car fan" - I actually own a car and have commuted to work for several previous jobs. But my initial read on your situation is that the simple cost of commuting will be substantial.  If you have to pay every day to park or hunt around for parking it can be maddening (I literally spent several hours every week doing nothing but look for on-street parking when I lived in Boston).

There's things like this too: http://www.carpoolworld.com/ride.html?to=BROOKLYN&ws=NY&country=USA,US&form_language=EN


Best of luck!  I take it moving closer to work isn't an option?

SeattleStache

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 12:56:24 PM »
Does your employer subsidize the monthly train pass or give you the option to purchase the pass with pre-tax funds? Even if they don't subsidize the pass, being able to purchase it with pre-tax money would help keep the cost down.

norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 12:58:50 PM »
I will definitely not be moving closer! We own my place in Brooklyn, plus, Long Island is not my scene. It's funny, it's actually not that far, it's just new york is hard to get around in some ways.

There is also the option of saying no to this job offer and continuing to hunt around for something else closer by, but the whole process has already felt rather grueling so walking away is difficult to consider.

In my experience pre-tax benefits would cover some but not all of the cost as there is usually an upper limit. Right now my 116.50 monthly metrocard comes out pre-tax and my commuting *feels* entirely cost-free as a result (I even have a yearly metrocard they mail to me).

nereo

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2016, 01:01:37 PM »
norabird, i've always wondered.  Is that your shark-costumed, roomba-riding cat as your avatar?

sparkytheop

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2016, 01:14:58 PM »
Definitely look into ride share/carpooling.  Maybe once you start you'll find you have a coworker in your area willing to carpool, alternating who drives, or just letting you pay them to ride without having to drive.

How long is the commute by car?  If it's 20 minutes by car, but an hour and a half by train/bus, that's a big difference to consider, especially when you figure it each way.

I had a commute of 45 miles (40 minutes) each way for 12 years.  In the beginning, I drove myself, then I carpooled, then we used a van and had a bigger pool, then I went back to driving myself (no bus/train option).  Each option has its pros and cons, but now that I have a four mile drive to work (ten minutes door to door), I never want to commute again!

One other thing to look into--are there any ways to discount the transit expenses?  Are there company perks (they pay for part of the pass)?  Does your city/state provide vouchers or supplements to take public transportation (some do in order to encourage people not to drive, in order to reduce congestion)?

As for car insurance, whether you have full coverage or liability only may make a huge difference in cost, or it might not.  You have to get quotes for the specific driver and vehicle from different companies to know for sure what that will cost you.  If you go with liability only, you need to know you can recoup from the loss yourself (I've had liability + uninsured motorists only for years, no point in full coverage for the cars I drive.)

norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2016, 01:16:05 PM »
I wish it were my cat! And my roomba. And my shark costume. Alas it is the internet's.

AZDude

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2016, 01:19:09 PM »
Commuting 20 miles takes an hour and a half by train? That sounds horrible. Is there no other route? Maybe start with the train and see how bad it is and make a decision from there.

I used to commute by bus downtown and I actually liked it better than going by car. Much better to relax and listen to a podcast than deal with rush hour craziness.

AlanStache

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2016, 01:36:46 PM »
I pay 56$/month for car insurance, Gieco with owning one share of Berkshire Hathaway class zzz or some such (currently worth ~120$) I get like 10% off, then I also have no coverage on my p.o.s. 2004 Toyota.  Property tax here for the car is just over 100$/year. 

Is there the potential that you would be working hours not well supported by the train/bus, ie you work till 1110pm then have to wait for the midnight train? 

Have you looked at traffic at the time of day you would be commuting at?  Google directions will factor in current traffic volumes when giving time estimates. 

Would there be side benefits or other savings if you owned a car?  ie drive to family upstate rather than take Amtrak.

(for what its worth I bike to work 2-4 days per week when it is not raining or dont have need of a car after work.)

CanuckExpat

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2016, 02:58:40 PM »
I agree with others, that cars have unexpected costs that can be hard to account for.
For reference, just this month we had to replace only two of the tires: ~$400, last month, I bought an electric bicycle on Craigslist for that price.

Your best bet is probably to try out both before committing to buying/borrowing a car, and see how each one suits you. I generally find sitting on a commuter train and reading/thinking/sleeping a relaxing experience; rush-hour car commuting not as much.

As an additional thought, is it the local connections (bus and subway) that add to the cost and time? Can you use a bike to replace those (perhaps folding and/or electric bike if convenient)? i.e. bike to commuter train, ride train with bike, bike to final destination.

dougules

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2016, 03:22:00 PM »
I will definitely not be moving closer! We own my place in Brooklyn, plus, Long Island is not my scene. It's funny, it's actually not that far, it's just new york is hard to get around in some ways.

There is also the option of saying no to this job offer and continuing to hunt around for something else closer by, but the whole process has already felt rather grueling so walking away is difficult to consider.

In my experience pre-tax benefits would cover some but not all of the cost as there is usually an upper limit. Right now my 116.50 monthly metrocard comes out pre-tax and my commuting *feels* entirely cost-free as a result (I even have a yearly metrocard they mail to me).

I definitely understand preferring Brooklyn to Long Island, but why not take a few more seconds to consider living closer to work?  Sleeping in Brooklyn and commuting doesn't seem all that different from going back into Brooklyn when you want.  Then you can choose when it's actually worth dealing with the 20 miles of annoyance each way.  Plus most of your trips wouldn't be at rush hour.

You can also keep your place in Brooklyn and rent it.  You might even make a profit since I'm guessing that Long Island is less pricey than Brooklyn.  Build your reserves and get to FIRE.  Then move back home to Brooklyn with zero commute.

Of course that's all assuming that moving is not just going to lengthen your significant other's commute.

norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2016, 06:30:56 AM »
Moving would be a one-way ticket to depression, I am sure--I would feel cut off from friend's, and my share of my apartment's rent is probably comparable to what I would pay there, but with added moving costs. Plus it wouldn't save me on commuting money as I would still be taking the LIRR in to the city regularly to see friends and I would be even more in need of a car, as I'm not sure the area is easy to live in without one.

The actual LIRR ride is about 45 minutes, but I have to get there and then walk to the office, plus there is time to build in to not miss the train; it's the combination of the two trips (subway/bus and then rail) that makes it so long. But maybe if I reframe it on my return trip as being an hour to get back to Brooklyn that would feel better. I can always buy a bike to get to the station, maybe a folding one to get it on the train easier, but I'd still be buying a metro card for occasional use so with the bike cost it wouldn't really cut down on the expense. The LIRR is the piece that drives the cost up, at 252 a month. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for a used folding bike.

Tjat

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2016, 07:17:05 AM »
90 min commute? There's no way in heck is take that job regardless of the means used to get there.

dougules

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2016, 09:43:10 PM »
Moving would be a one-way ticket to depression, I am sure--I would feel cut off from friend's, and my share of my apartment's rent is probably comparable to what I would pay there, but with added moving costs. Plus it wouldn't save me on commuting money as I would still be taking the LIRR in to the city regularly to see friends and I would be even more in need of a car, as I'm not sure the area is easy to live in without one.

The actual LIRR ride is about 45 minutes, but I have to get there and then walk to the office, plus there is time to build in to not miss the train; it's the combination of the two trips (subway/bus and then rail) that makes it so long. But maybe if I reframe it on my return trip as being an hour to get back to Brooklyn that would feel better. I can always buy a bike to get to the station, maybe a folding one to get it on the train easier, but I'd still be buying a metro card for occasional use so with the bike cost it wouldn't really cut down on the expense. The LIRR is the piece that drives the cost up, at 252 a month. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for a used folding bike.

I understand.  I live in suburbia, and it can be depressing even though I still think it's worth it not to have a huge commute.  Believe me, I'm out as soon as I hit FIRE. 

I wouldn't view walking time as time wasted.  Exercise is worth it.  On weekends I'll walk 30 minutes each way to the grocery store when I could get there in 10 or less by bike.  Walking is good stress relief even with some of it being beside 7 lanes of speeding traffic. 
« Last Edit: April 16, 2016, 10:03:42 PM by dougules »

Eggman111

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2016, 10:55:06 PM »
Is there any way to bike part way to cut down on a transfer or walking time? I'm not sure what it would be like to do that, but even if you could do that some days, it would save valuable time. I see why this isn't so clear cut.

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Inaya

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2016, 07:40:00 AM »
I'd say put the financial issues aside (gasp!) and look at it emotionally. Do you enjoy driving? I hate it, but some people find it meditative or some such. Does the idea of sitting on a train for 45 minutes + whatever subway time horrify you? Or do you see it as time for extra relaxation, contemplation, productivity, reading, or whatever? Does the train have WiFi? Is there some way to monetize your train time? Maybe it's a way to catch an extra 30 minutes of sleep?

Finances are, of course, always a factor, but they're not the only factor.

I have a 100-minute commute. 20 minute walk (or 10 minute bus if it's raining), 50 minute train, 15 minute shuttle, and layovers. I wouldn't drive it if you gave me a car for free and paid for parking. In the morning I scavenge whatever newspapers have been left around and/or catch some extra sleep. In the evening I catch up on reading. My goal is to find some way to monetize my train time, but so far haven't thought of anything (no WiFi).

My husband, however, would drive it in a heartbeat, gleefully, regardless of the cost to do so.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2016, 10:22:27 AM »
Commuting 20 miles takes an hour and a half by train? That sounds horrible. Is there no other route? Maybe start with the train and see how bad it is and make a decision from there.

I used to commute by bus downtown and I actually liked it better than going by car. Much better to relax and listen to a podcast than deal with rush hour craziness.

I live 16 miles from my job in OC CA and the ride by public is just under two hours (requires 2 buses), however the car drive is only 20-25 minutes and the (hilly) bike ride ~ 1 hr. Public transit is only a last resort for me. The choice of whether to car it or bus it is a non-decision in my case. How I wish socal had a public transit system as efficient as NYC's subway.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2016, 10:47:38 AM »
Is this opportunity unattainable in the city?  Is there something special about it?  If not, have you considered waiting to find a comparable position in the city?  This commute sounds like a nightmare...

norabird

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Re: Commute by rail or by car?
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2016, 11:06:44 AM »
I have thought about waiting--but the pay and title and position are all good, and the job hunt felt like it was slowly killing me, though I know that's an exaggeration. I think I have cabin fever at my current job. Do still have a final interview elsewhere tomorrow...I am probably a little biased towards making it work for those reasons, but also because while I've been privileged to avoid a long commute time, the metro area has lots of people commuting in from long distances and so the average commute here includes lots of similar treks. So my baseline of what sounds extreme/vs long but normal-ish is a lot higher than it might be for someone else.