Having started a new daily commute for work this past month, I’ve been looking to balance time spent travelling with the cost of travelling (economic, environmental, cognitive). Unfortunately, I work in a major city and can’t afford housing there (yet) which leaves me with just a few options
- drive from home to work (20km and 45mins each way)
- public transport, or (20km and 1hrs 25 each way)
- some mix of the above (20km, 1hr each way)
Cost of each of these look like
- drive from home to work (car $23.20, parking $33.12; total = $56.32 per day)
- public transport (cost $9.20 per day)
- drive to train station, use train > bus connections (car $15.08, parking $0.00, public transport, $4.50; total cost = $19.58)
On face value, it’s clear driving to work has a huge cash cost ($12,953.6 per year!) not to mention the stress of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for almost an hour prior to and following work – not my idea of the best start to the day.
Pure public transport on the other hand is inexpensive ($2116 p.a.), has a low cognitive cost yet can be inconvenient at times. In reality, as much as I’d like to step on to the bus/train to work, I like to exercise outdoors or at a gym on the way home most weeknights (I keep running gear, gym cloths and swimmers in my car) or catch up with people I enjoy being with, and that’s more difficult do spontaneously if I don’t have a car until I get home in the evening. Example – today was 37 degrees Celsius (98.6F) and I really felt like going to the beach for a swim on the way home. If I only had access to the public transport, this would be impossible to do. At 1hr 25mins, it also consumes a fair amount of time – an extra hour per day compared to a compromise and a full 1hr 20 more than driving. Sure, you can use part of this time to relax or in productivity, but it’s a ton of hours you just wouldn’t get back (around 230hrs per year in my situation).
What strikes me though is how much stress melts away when you’re able to use public transport for a daily commute – no traffic, spare time to read, contemplate, chat with a friend or just zone out, significantly lower financial cost, less impact on the environment and only at a small cost of convenience. In most developed cities, public transport can really be a joyful experience and I feel blessed we’ve got pretty decent public transport in Australia (Ok, I know it’s far from perfect!). In my ideal world, I’d live a 20 minute walk to my office (cycling is another great option, if you have shower facilities at work – we don’t!).
What I’m currently doing is driving to the nearest train station, parking near by (so I don’t have to pay for all-day parking) and getting public transport from there. My fare at the moment with my student pass is under $2.00 for the round trip, plus running costs for the car and I’m looking at $3128 p.a. This is a pretty good compromise.
Hopefully in the next 6 months I’m able to move out of my current house into my own apartment. This has been a secondary dilemma of mine for a while now – I rent with 2 other people in a far away land (relative to work, recreation, friends and where most major transport hubs are outside of walking distance). On top of this, one of my housemates is also my landlord, so it’s often hard to feel like it’s “home” (e.g. air-con has been of limits in summer and using the heat lamp in the bathroom another transgression (grrrr,). She’s not direct about it, so we haven’t even had a major confrontation about these things. Even though I more or less ignore her more unreasonable requests (there, you get my confession) it’s not a great place to live.
I’d love to live closer to the coast, easily accessible public transport near work, and it’s really starting to look within grasp, even whilst keeping my expense relatively low. So that’s exciting – and in the mean time, I’ve some decent options for my daily commute.
How do you get to work? What’s your experience with public transport been like?