Most of us are looking for ways to cut our expenses and save money. At the same time, most of us have a daily commute. Whether we work in an office or a classroom, and regardless of whether it takes us 15 or 45 minutes to get there, chances are that a distance needs to be traveled every morning to get from our home to our place of employment.
Since it is a trip we make twice every day, the money we spend towards our commute adds up quickly, meaning that by reducing those costs there is a tremendous potential for savings. But we don’t want our commute to be overly long or inconvenient. How can we balance these two concerns? Below is a cost estimate of different forms of commuting, coupled with some considerations that you will probably need to take into account. For the purposes of this article, we are assuming a commute of 5-10 miles and a person who lives and works in a metropolitan area.
Expected Monthly Cost: Minimal. We may need to buy a pair of gloves or a better pair of shoes at times.
Considerations: Walking is certainly the cheapest commuting option. It is also by far the slowest. When taking our 5-10 mile distance into account, this is not a very feasible transit mode.
Expected Monthly Cost: ~$10-$15. A bicycle costs several hundred dollars and should last you for a good number of years. Additionally, you will need to pay for proper biking attire, equipment for your bike, and occasional maintenance fees. If you take good care of your bike and your equipment, then this cost becomes less and less over time.
Considerations: For many people, biking is a quick yet cheap way to commute. However, dealing with busy roads, cold weather, hilly routes, and heavy bags can quickly make this a difficult way to get around.
Expected Monthly Cost: $200-$300. This cost is calculated assuming average gas prices, insurance costs, and maintenance fees. It does not include any charges incurred for a parking pass at work.
Considerations: Unless you live in a highly congested urban area, driving is probably the easiest and most convenient way to get to work. But you’ll pay for that convenience to the tune of several hundred dollars per year.
Expected Monthly Cost: ~$80-$100. While this cost certainly depends on your city and your mode of transit (subway v commuter rail, for example), most unlimited monthly transit passes fall somewhere in this range.
Considerations: Public transit is cheaper than driving and may not make your commute too much longer, but it is certainly less convenient. If your home and your office aren’t both near a station, this mode of commuting can turn into a hassle. The frequency at which trains run is also important to consider, especially if you don’t work standard 9-5 days.
Hopefully this quick breakdown of prices and considerations will help you weigh your options and decide on a commute that saves you the most money without causing too much of an inconvenience. And, of course, it bears mentioning that two of these modes can be combined together to generate maximum efficiencies. If a combination of biking and public transit saves you both money and time, by all means go for it.