Benefits of Using Public Transporation

Is public transportation cheaper than driving? Beyond just cost, is it a better alternative?

Of course, this is something that’s a matter of opinion.  I’ve had experience with both types of commutes, throughout my working years.  Also, I’ve had various difficulties of commutes.

Such as:

  • Driving 5 minutes
  • Driving 30 minutes
  • Driving 90 minutes (no fun)
  • Taking a 40 minute train, then walking 30 minutes or taking a bus
  • Taking a 60 minute train, then walking 10 minutes

Clearly, driving just 5 minutes was amazing.  The thing is, it was my first job out of school, and I didn’t really know any different.  I just saw it as a normal job, and equated the commute to the amount of time I had to spend getting to college or high school in the previous years.  It took me having a longer commute to fully appreciate how good I had it with that first position.  At least, in terms of distance for driving.

Once I had the opportunity to take public transportation, I had a new perspective.  I liked it!  It sure beat having to drive each day.

Now, I would most definitely choose a very short drive over a long train ride.  Time is valuable! However, most other things being equal, one can see a lot of benefits to public transportation.   Here are 5:

1) Spend less on gas.  With the high cost of filling up your car with gas, it can be very expensive to have a long commute.  Driving isn’t cheap! A 30 mile commute, might cost somewhere in the range of $10 round trip.  A train fare, for example, might be comparable or less.

2) Cause less wear and tear on your car.  These are additional “expenses” that we don’t really notice because we don’t see additional cash outlay right away.  However, they add up. The more mileage a person puts on his or her car, the more quickly it depreciates.  For example, a car with 50,000 miles is worth more than a car with 100,000 miles, everything else being equal.  Not much is depreciating when you take public transportation.

3) Less stress.  Let’s face it, we’re really making major life and death decisions on the road when traveling at high speeds.  We also come into contact with enough drivers out there that we eventually cross paths with a few really bad ones here and there.  All that can add subtle stress on the mind and body.  If you take public transportation, you can just sit back and chillax! That allows your own energy to be used on more productive things.

4) A chance to get things done.  So, I mentioned that public transport helps facilitate less stress.  Well, if you want to get some work or other things done, you could do so on public transportation.  You can’t send emails in the car, and you certainly can’t tweet and drive! Not safe.  On a train or bus, this is no problem.  You can be more productive, which can be more profitable.

5) Better for the environment.  Fewer cars on the road helps keep the air cleaner, right?  There is something to be said for knowing that you’re helping do your part, in our own little corner of the world, to help the greater good.

Another thing I’ve liked about public transportation is the reliability of coming and going at specific times, based on a schedule.  Of course, there is a flipside to that, in terms of losing some flexibility. But keeping on schedule probably helps us stay focused on getting things done.  You won’t linger at work for that extra 10 or 15 minutes if you’re risking making your train or bus!

Readers, what are your thoughts about public transportation as an alternative to driving?

12 thoughts on “Benefits of Using Public Transporation

  1. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    I would definitely use public transportation more if it was widely available where I live. Unfortunately in the sprawling suburbs, it isn’t easy to get from point A to point B via public transportation.

    1. Post author

      Jon – yes, I know what you mean about suburbia. Here, it’s easy to commute downtown from the suburbs, but not from suburb to suburb. Via public transportation that is.

  2. Nick @

    I’m trying to get my work to support public transit initiatives so that I can sell my car and only commute through public transit. Like Jon, the transit system here is not great so it is pretty hard to get around for the general public.

  3. Pauline

    My favorite was cycling to work, a chance to exercise and blow off the steam before getting home. When public transportation was easy I used it, but if there was a bus or train only every 20 minutes or more, I think I would take the car if the commute was about the same time. Ideally if that was a long term job I would try to move as close as possible to reduce commuting time.

    1. Post author

      Pauline – that’s a great couple of benefits of biking, exercise and relieving stress. Your last sentence is a good call!

  4. Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa

    Another advantage of public transportation is that it forces you to be on time. If you drive, you can slip into the habit of going into work a little later each day. This does not happen with public transit.

    I think it is great in some cities. When I lived in DC I used it all the time. Here in Indianapolis, it is not nearly as good.

    1. Post author

      Michael – true, it does get you on time. Taking the train in the past, I know that it didn’t wait for me.

  5. Thomas | Your Daily Finance

    I think people in general have misconceptions. I really enjoyed taking the train to work. Here though you don’t have as many options as you do in metro areas. The best thing I liked about the tri rail was being able to relax when I needed to on the ride to work or catch up before going in. I couldn’t do those when driving. Saving on gas is def a good thing.

  6. Eric

    I used to take the train to work everyday, but now I work somewhere that is almost impossible to get to via public transportation. I miss reading lots of books on the train, but I just started trying audio books from the library and it helps make the drive less terrible.

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