Author Topic: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute  (Read 5007 times)

MustacheMike

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I'd like to live closer to work. I really would. Right now, thought, it's not in the cards. I want to know if a bus commute is worth it.

I currently drive 30 minutes to work on a good day (40 min on a not-so-good day) and around 40 to 45 minutes home for a round-trip total of 40 km five times per week. I budget $120 a month for tolls and another $120 for gasoline. Car maintenance every three months ranges from 45 to 75 bucks when I pay someone else to do it -- which is always. I pay an extra $91 per year on my insurance for commuting (government-run insurance monopoly here -- there's no shopping around).

Tomorrow, I'm taking the bus. If I choose to go this route permanently, I would pay $124 for a month-long pass. That eliminates the $120 in tolls, about $90 in gasoline and $7.60 per month in insurance, not to mention reduces the $15 per month in maintenance costs.

Except, the bus commute takes 1 hour and 45 minutes one-way. Since, time is money, I'm losing out on this end.

Short of moving closer to work or working closer to home, what would you choose?



Annamal

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 06:16:51 PM »
Can you make an agreement with your company to do part of your job on the bus?

That would square the circle nicely.

MustacheMike

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 06:19:08 PM »
Good tip!

I don't think I have to even make an agreement. I will just do my work and count it as hours.

Since it goes: bus, train, train, bus, it's not uninterrupted work. But I think I could count at least 30 minutes of that 1:45 as work.

iamlindoro

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 06:23:52 PM »
Is there an option c?  Specifically, is there a coworker who lives in the same general area with whom you could carpool, cutting your drive time and cost in half by splitting the days each of you drives?

MustacheMike

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2014, 06:38:48 PM »
That's a good point. I do, in fact, have a co-worker who lives in the vicinity. The next time I see her, I will ask her to let me know if she's interested in carpooling.

darkadams00

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2014, 07:18:13 PM »
Car: (0:45:00/trip)
------------
Tolls            $120
Gas               $  90
Maintenance    $  10
Insurance      $    8   --> $228/month

Bus: (1:45:00/trip)
------------
Pass        $124   --> $124/month

2 hours/day * 20 days/month = 40 hours
$104/40 = ~$2.60/hour

Given what you've told us thus far, for this amount of money (and no other possible factors included), your time would be better spent doing almost anything else. My son is facing a similar situation, but from a slightly different angle--30 minute car ride each way vs 1hr 30min bus ride each way. However, if he chooses the bus option, he plans to completely forego a car during this time (2 years). That eliminates all of the fixed costs of owning and maintaining a car as well. The fixed costs that a car owner carries just for having a car in the driveway for the occasional need are significant enough to make the math work better (> $10.00/hour in his case). In your case, if you're going to keep a car regardless of this choice (which most would do), I wouldn't be able to justify the time expense.

MustacheMike

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2014, 07:38:29 PM »
Thank you darkadams00 for your most-excellent breakdown of what I would be paid if I were to take the bus. It is quite dismal.

My first day taking the bus, I realized it is not a mosh pit of unwashed heathens. And my clothes were not in violent disarray afterwards.

To my astonishment, the bus actually takes more like an hour and 30 minutes, door to door. I was able to shoot off a few emails on both ends of the trip, letting people know that I was still in the loop and making me feel justified in ducking out at the end of work when I felt like it.  I also got a decent stroll on either ends of my trip.

I might just do the bus out of principle, for a month or so, at least while it is relatively dry, warm and sunny.

Edit: I should add that taking the bus makes me feel like a Mustachian. I cruise in casually to work on a car, in comfort -- yet I can have multiple, trained drivers and robots! (the automated trains) take me to the same destination. It's a daily reminder to not get lazy thinking that I need a car to go anywhere or do anything.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 07:47:48 PM by MustacheMike »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2014, 07:09:32 AM »
The math works best if you can get rid of the car completely.

I don't know if I could take the extra time, and my DW has never ever considered public transport for the same reason (30-45 min drive, at LEAST 90 minutes by bus, with several transfers).

But only you can answer the time question.

MissStache

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2014, 07:33:35 AM »
I could commute to work in my car in 30-45 minutes (if traffic cooperates, which isn't a certainty around here), but instead I chose to commute via bus and Metro, which takes about an hour to and hour and 15 minutes.

There are so many benefits to this and they FAR outweigh the time I would get if I drove:
1.  I'm using public transport instead of a gas guzzling car, so the environmental impact is way less
2.  I don't arrive to work stressed and frustrated by traffic and bad driving
3.  I'm not subjecting myself to the risk of auto accidents
4.  I have a 10 minute walk on either side of my trip, and I love the little extra bit of exercise
5.  And the most important:  I get so much reading done on the metro.  It's awesome- a great way to wake up in the morning and a great way to unwind at the end of the day. 

Even if my public transport commute was longer I would still do it this way. 

Ashyukun

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2014, 10:53:32 AM »
When I lived in the North-East I quickly came to prefer taking the train to driving- it usually took at least twice as long to take the train as driving myself, but I could actually USE the time that I was on the train vs. being able to do nothing but drive (and listen to something) when I took the car. Back then, I made HEAVY use of my Netflix subscription and would watch a DVD a day- half on the ride in and half on the ride back. I did also occasionally read, but I'm bad about getting REALLY absorbed in a book and was prone to missing my stop. :P

One thing that you might also look into- my work offered an incentive program where they gave you a stipend toward a commuter pass if you were commuting via public transportation. Many don't, but it can't hurt to ask since that would even further add to the savings of taking the bus.

I do sorely miss having the public transportation options I had back then, but the tradeoff of having MUCH more affordable housing and living in biking distance to work (though I need to get back into doing that...) here is more than worth it.

MustacheMike

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2014, 08:11:00 PM »
@MissStache and @Ashyukun Thank you for the great case studies of the preference of public transit over standard commuting.

I did my second journey today, and it wasn't that bad. I did some reading, checked some emails and dozed off on the way home.

Two days down. I wonder if I will do more.

Psychologically, it keeps me focused. For example, with a jug of organic apple juice waiting at home for me, I swung by the local winemaking shop for an airlock, bung and yeast to make Mustachian cider (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/04/22/brew-your-own-cider/). The guy at the store unfortunately gave me the wrong size. Now, if I had driven, I'd make no qualms about driving back to the store before closing time to exchange bungs (that sounds weird...). Having taken the bus, I feel as if my efforts had been wasted, if I ended up taking the car out.

lhamo

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2014, 06:30:25 AM »
Do you have flexibility about start/end times at work?  If so and if the bus schedules work, you could consider going in either before or after rush hour, when the buses might be less crowded and less apt to get stuck in traffic.  That is what I do.  When DH is home, I take the bus to work, leaving the house around 5:45  -- 15 minute walk to the bus stop and then an hour across town -- and then subway/bus home between 3-4.  Subway/bus can be slightly faster if I time the connections right (fastest time so far is 1 hour door to door), but it is more crowded and more expensive, which is why I do the bus on the way home.  At those times, the crowds are not bad and I always get a seat on the bus, and usually get a seat on the subway.

I listen to podcasts during the commute which is a nice way to spend the time.  I sometimes get in a little nap. 

To be honest, though, I am totally stoked that we are about to move office locations to a place closer to my home, which means I can probably bike it(about 7km each way).  I will also be able to take my kids to the bus every day and still be in the office by 8, and able to leave at 4 (and meet them coming home).  Quality of life is going to go WAAAAAY up for me and the family.

Chranstronaut

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2014, 09:49:06 AM »
I could commute to work in my car in 30-45 minutes (if traffic cooperates, which isn't a certainty around here), but instead I chose to commute via bus and Metro, which takes about an hour to and hour and 15 minutes.

There are so many benefits to this and they FAR outweigh the time I would get if I drove:
1.  I'm using public transport instead of a gas guzzling car, so the environmental impact is way less
2.  I don't arrive to work stressed and frustrated by traffic and bad driving
3.  I'm not subjecting myself to the risk of auto accidents
4.  I have a 10 minute walk on either side of my trip, and I love the little extra bit of exercise
5.  And the most important:  I get so much reading done on the metro.  It's awesome- a great way to wake up in the morning and a great way to unwind at the end of the day. 

Even if my public transport commute was longer I would still do it this way.

I'm in a similar position in terms of commute time by car, and having many reasons to use transit instead.  I would add a reason 6: being able to leave on time every day guilt-free because you'd miss your ride if you let the last meeting of the day run over time.

I would encourage anyone looking at taking public transit to also look into vanpooling!  I was dismayed when I learned it would take 1.5 hrs each way to for me to take a train/bus combination commute, with the possibility of up to 30 minute wait time if I missed my transfer.  Plus, the train costs $7 each way and the tracks are often washed out during winter mudslides.

Instead, I found that the major bus companies in my county and our neighboring counties offer vanpools: they provide the van, the members all pay a monthly fee ($50-70 in my area) and a few of the members trade off driving.  The van goes into the transit shop for regular maintenance, and all gas and expenses come out of the member dues.  Plus, I've met a bunch of interesting folks who work near me.  We even set up an unofficial pool to pay each driver a few bucks for their time spent driving.  It's a nice little community.

I'm lucky enough that my large company has several buildings along the same road with many vanpools already set up.  It was relatively easy to find one to join, and our employer will pay up to $60 a month, so I can essentially commute for free.  But if you'd want to start one, your local transit company will probably have instructions on their website on how to get started.  I'd never heard of vanpooling before, but for me, it's the cheapest and fastest option.

galliver

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Re: What would you choose? the break-even point for a bus commute
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2014, 10:27:01 AM »
I don't know how this would work given you're in Canada, but would getting a smaller, lighter vehicle like a scooter make sense? Given the time and distance of your commute, it doesn't sound like you're going on highways/freeways (I get confused which is which). My concerns would be how long the riding season would be and whether it could completely replace your car...but maybe it's something to look at?

FWIW I had a 1.5-2hr commute on car->train->shuttle bus or car->train->walk->train for one summer and the lack of free time eventually got to me.