Saturday 14 December 2013

The real costs of commuting by car are insanely high

Summary: For anyone commuting regularly to work by car, it may be one of the biggest impediments to improving your wealth and happiness. If you understand all of the real costs (money, time, health, quality of life) you are unlikely to be able to rationally justify it to yourself. The hard part is making the changes required to eliminate it (where you live and work; walking, biking or public transport).

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Dave Fayram

Related Posts:
> Actual cycling expenditures prove how cheap cycling can be

1. Commuting by car has massive costs in time and money
- One of the best explanations can be found on Mr Money Moustache's blog - he's documented the financial savings and benefits of this change: > The true cost of commuting.
After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel*. Source: The true cost of commuting
This is for a 40min commute each way by a couple who both drive separately.

- America's AAA calculated the average driving costs for 2012 and summarised them as below:

AAA: 2012 Cost of Owning and Operating Vehicle in U.S.

 2. The minimum, direct, additional financial costs of commuting by car are significant
- As you can see in the table below, just the direct, additional financial costs are a minimum of $3,500 each year. These direct costs increase substantially as your annual mileage increases, if you pay for daily city parking, and in relation to the cost of your car and how you finance it.

- If you would be able to get rid of a car by not using it to commute (this is especially likely if your household has more than one car), then your financial savings would certainly be massive.

Cost CategoryConservative Annual Car Costs (~3,500km/yr)Annual Commuter Cyling Cost (~3,500km/yr)
Depreciation$1500 / year$100 / year
Vehicle Registration$200 / year$0
Compulsory Insurance$300 / year$0
Comprehensive Insurance & Breakdown Cover$400 / year$0
Fuel$800 / yearExtra food is typically unnecessary.
But let's say $50 / year
Parking$100 / year$0
Tyres, Oil, Servicing$300 / year$100 / year
Fines$100 / year$0
Cleaning$40 / year$0
Permits (e.g. on-street parking)$30 / year$0
Drivers Licence$30 / year$0

Total$3,800 / year$250 / year

3. The total financial costs of commuting by car are enormous
- A study done on commuting costs to the city centre for Australia's main cities concluded the savings were around $3,000 if the car was just left at home and $6,000-$11,000 if the car was sold.

The Urbanist / CRC Rail Innovation Southern Cross Uni

 Commuter costs and potential savings: Public transport versus car commuting in Australia

- A calculator that compares transport costs between owning a car and not owning one, also concludes that the annual savings are several thousands of dollars each year. With conservative numbers, over 10 years, the total saving is around $120,000.
See: Owning a Car vs. Not Owning a Car (Calculator)

4. Your health is worse as a car commuter
- All other things being equal, your health will be worse. You're likely to be more overweight, more stressed and more susceptible to sedentary illnesses. See: > Commuting's hidden cost (NY Times)

5. Your lifespan is reduced
- The more time you spend commuting by car, the shorter your lifespan. > Commuting to an early grave, > Your commute is killing you (Slate)

6. Your overall happiness is reduced
- Long commutes, especially by car, lead to greater depression, anxiety, poor sleep and unhappiness. This does not apply to walking or cycling, which typically contribute positively to mental health and happiness. > Commuting makes you unhappy (Economist)

7. Your energy level (thus productivity) is lower; longer work hours result
- Sedentary commuting results in lower, initial energy levels and these often do not recover to levels obtained by those who walk or cycle during their commute. Your productivity at work is tied to your energy levels and commuting habits (active or sendentary) are one of the keys to being more productive and hence spending less time at the office. See: > Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

An excellent infographic summarising these adverse impacts can be viewed at the below link:

Top Fitness Magazine: The Costs of that Commute – Driving vs Cycling [Infographic]

Further Info:
High cost of commute

Commuter costs and potential savings: Public transport versus car commuting in Australia

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Cost of Owning and Operating Vehicle in U.S. Increased 1.9 Percent According to AAA’s 2012 ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

The mega-commute is driving us into an early grave