Thursday, March 27, 2008

Commute cost analysis

For a while now I’ve been wanting to sit down and figure out my commuting costs based on the multiple different commuting options I have. I live only 2 ½ miles from the Greenbelt Metro station and there is a bus that stops almost directly outside my house so for the longest time I always just assumed that would be the cheapest way to go. Metro only transport it turns out I am correct, though of course biking to Greenbelt instead would be cheaper. Basically I’m looking at $8.80 roundtrip via bus versus $7.20 roundtrip via bike.

However, if I decide to drive to Greenbelt, which I have done on numerous occasions my RT costs jump to $11.45 (not including gas money for the 2.5 mile drive). On the other hand if I drive to Fort Totten to catch the Redline directly to Judiciary Square I only pay $8.25 RT plus gas for an approximately 10 mile drive. I’m guessing gas costs would run around 2 to 4 dollars putting this option at around the same cost as driving to Greenbelt, only faster and with the bonus perks of morning coffee as I drive AND the ability to listen to at least parts of the NPR broadcast.

So, basically from this I should be biking whenever possible to the metro, and taking the bus on the other days, like when it’s super hot or raining or something. (This of course excludes biking all the way to work which obviously would always be the ideal option).

Unfortunately though on the other hand, one additional option I have utilized in the past has been to essentially drive all the way to work. By hopping on 295 right outside my door any time before 6:30 or so I can get to Hains Point within a half an hour assuming no major issues, have a bike, not need to shower upon arrival at the office and be at least 15 minutes faster then through any other commuting option I have. On top of that, the only costs to me are gas money, which I’d estimate to be about $8 RT give or take a bit depending on the day, plus the ability to change post work plans without worrying about extra metro trips is always a nice plus.

I’m not saying I’m going to start driving to Hains Point everyday here, more just pointing out a fact. My most efficient option for getting to work is still to drive all the way into the city. Aside from an occasional traffic jam there are no real barriers to me doing so, especially major monetary ones so I can see how enticing driving can be to anyone commuting into the city. Now, if DC were to add the much talked about tolls to commuter routes coming into the city, things might be a bit different. I doubt I’d drive much at all unless I had somewhere to go right after work that I needed the car for.

So, my final conclusion? I need to Harden the fuck up and start riding in more every week. All that costs me is an extra shower in the evenings and an extra bowl of cereal in the mornings along with a quadrupling of my current weekly training miles. That’s a cost I’m more then willing to pay.


John P. said...

I started riding just about every day to work back in December. Even though the traffic is bad, and some days are cold, I just have to remind myself of all the money I'm saving by doing so and it doesn't seem so bad.

Also, the extra 15 miles a day it adds to my riding is a BIG plus. I treat it like a time trial on the way home and it's a great workout.

Good luck with your commuting.

Kyle Jones said...

I am a commuter partly. I know you have seen me and it is by far cheaper to ride. But you have to equate quality of training into you equation because that is what you are after when you are a cyclist. I would compute a half hour of my ride to work was a mixed bag of nuts(stops and inadvertent sprints)out of a 1.5 hour ride. Plus I would not get the time in on the bike if I did not do it this way.

Training Time=Priceless

KMAX said...

Yeah, I never really realized how much a day I spent on my commute. I knew parking was a bit but the metro I just kind of figured was a couple of bucks.. not 10. When I lived in Adams Morgan and my commute was like 6 miles roundtrip I could have cared less either way. I mostly rode since it took me much less time and I didn't even have to shower most days after getting in. Now the 15 mile commute is a bit different.

The consistency is a big deal though. I tried to do my ride for time the other day, though along the way I can tell any timing will be way off from actual effort due to everything I encounter. Kyle you know first hand my commute, there are some nice straightaways to drill it, though they're only maybe a mile long broken up by streets where at minimum you've got to slow way down or face being creamed.

I think last year I developed a decent sprint because of my urban commuting. All the stop and go allows a lot of quick hard acceleration but my longer steady outputs were hindered as well. Can't win a sprint if you can't stay in the race.

$10 a day savings... averaging up to almost $220 a month is probably worth it all in the end.

Burnt Couch said...

Not a big sweater? tis my concern as a teacher, I gotta be in front of all this little f'ers.