February 8, 2012

Why I Do NOT Ride the Bus to Work

TheSimpleDollar recently ran an article about the cost savings of using public transit.   This is a pretty common money saving tip and it often makes a lot of sense.   A transit pass can usually cost less than the insurance on your car.   If you consider the total cost of car ownership then public transit usually wins hands down.  My wife and I spend at least $200 a month on gas and insurance alone and that would buy us monthly all access transit passes.  So its an easy financial argument that taking the bus is cheaper.   But I don't ride the bus.

The key reason I don't ride the bus is this :   It takes too long.

Bus ride : It would take me 47 minutes including a 1/4 mile walk to get to work in the morning. 

Drive my car : I live 2.5 miles from work and it takes me 6 minutes to drive.  

Taking the bus to work would cost me 82 extra minutes per day.  

My wife and I have three cars.   We each have cars we drive daily and I own a classic car that sits in the garage most of the time but I drive once in a while for fun.   We could cut back to 2 cars and sell my daily driver.   I could then theoretically take the bus every day to work.   I figure I would save something around $3000 a year if I got rid of the car.  That figures the cost of extra gas to drive to work only and the cost of insurance and replacement costs.  A bus pass would run me around $100 per month.  So In total I'd save just $1800 if I got rid of my car and took the bus.   However I'd spend about 300 hours extra commuting to work.   Thats about a cost of $6 per hour.  This isn't great nor awful amount.  Its close to minimum wage roughly (after tax).   Financially it makes marginal sense based on the extra time used.  If I was broke and needed the $1800 a year a lot more then it would make more sense.   But for me an extra 82 minutes per workday is not worth the cost savings.

This is not meant to be a criticism of the mass transit service around here.  We actually have very good transit in our metro area.    I live in the suburbs and our bus service is not bad.  It is just that the routes don't happen to coincide with the path between my home and my place of work all that well.    If I happened to work in the center of town then I might take the train to work.   In that situation I'd just take a short 10 minute walk to the train stop from my house and then the train would take me straight into town without any fuss.   The route into town center has really bad traffic during rush hour so the train would likely save me time overall.

I could move closer to work and simply walk to work.   That would however cost a lot of money to sell our home and buy a new home.   It is something I might have considered 14 years ago when I bought my home, but I don't think its a feasible choice right now.   Not to mention I'm pretty sure my wife would veto the idea.

Bottom line : I don't take the bus because it takes too long.


  1. The Seattle transit system is very downtown oriented. If you want to go from one downtown core to another, you can probably get a direct bus. Otherwise you have to transfer and that can take quite a while and make the whole experience a hassle. Furthermore, Metro has been consolidating routes into their "RapidRide" system which has worsened these effects, and have put out press releases indicating they intend to continue this "progress."

  2. 2.5 miles? Why don't you walk to work? Do you spend any time at the gym? How much does it cost? Why don't you walk to work?

  3. I don't walk because 2.5 miles each way would take an extra 2 hours out of my day to walk to work. I don't have 2 hours a day to waste.


  4. Could ride a bike; 2.5 miles would be a pretty quick ride.


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