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.
- 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?