Clean Transport

Published on June 4th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Save $10,000 A Year By Not Driving A Car

June 4th, 2014 by  


Car ownership is expensive, even if you own a beat-up old jalopy, because they all use the same oil and fuel. High gas prices have turned many commuters into public transit believers, and those new converts are realizing big time savings. A report found that public transit users in 16 metro areas saved an average of more than $10,000 a year by not driving a car to work.

Based on the AAA 2013 cost-of-driving equation, along with the cost of an unreserved monthly downtown parking pass, the American Public Transit Association found that in many cities, commuters could save an average of $848 or more every month by not driving. This even factors in an unlimited monthly bus pass or equivalent pass for using local public transit.

Over the course of a year, that adds up to $10,000…by just not driving. While for some people this simply isn’t an option, many Americans in cities like New York and San Francisco have long shunned car ownership if they can help it. With the cost of living only rising in these places, owning a car has become a luxury that most can simply do without, which has led to record levels of ridership.

Just think of all the things you can do with $10,000 extra a year. Go on an amazing vacation, start an ambitious mid-life project, or maybe just invest in some Tesla stock. When it comes to dollars and cents, taking public transit makes a lot of sense.

Source: American Public Transit Association


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • shecky vegas

    Another hipster article written by some anonymous Snobzilla.

  • vadik

    Nowadays I just move walking distance to my job, I hate wasting time commuting.

  • Benjamin Nead

    OK, I just did the quick math on my 1995 Saturn (which easily fits into the “old jalopy” category and was paid off long ago.) I keep it running as a 2nd household car, even though standard daily work commutes have been now taken over by a bicycle.

    Monthly insurance: $33.00
    (middle age driver with no accidents or moving traffic violations.)
    Annual: $396.00

    Monthly gasoline: $5.00 to $20.00 which, for the sake of establishing
    a consistent figure, I’ll freeze at $12.00 per month, or $144.00 annually.

    Annual registration (cheap for older cars in Arizona) and EPA test is
    around $35.00

    Repairs? That can vary. But, realistically, I can count on spending
    about $500.00 on this old rust bucket each year.

    So, that’s roughly $1075.00 per year to make it happen. Obviously, gasoline costs would go up drastically, if I drove it more. But a 2 decades-old car like this would also simply break down more if driven more often and, hence, cost more annually in repairs to keep running.

    Public transportation in Tucson can’t replace this car. The bus routes are extremely limited, run on banker’s hours, often requiring long waits on even well-traveled routes and don’t allow much flexibility for bringing much with you. What I use my car for these days is mostly off-hours hauling of portable audio recording gear (basically fills up my front passenger seat) and fetching of groceries at night.

    The replacement for the old jalopy will invariably come in the form of a used EV. Insurance will jump while I’m still making payments, but rates are almost always lower with a greener vehicle with most companies. EV registration in Arizona is also a bargain and will be about the same as an ancient gas car, like I have now.

    Cost per mile (based on $3.50 per gallon gasoline and 11 cents per kilowatt electricity) goes from about 13 cents for the old Saturn to about 2 cents on a Leaf/i-MiEV style EV. So, there’s a significant cost savings there.

    Assuming a low-mileage city-range EV will have a minimum of repairs needing to be done (and some of it possible still under warranty,) I should also be looking pretty good there as well.

    Happily, the EV replacement for the old Saturn won’t have any tailpipe pollution and, assuming that utility production of electricity keeps getting cleaner, that makes the EV even cleaner years down the road.

  • MarTams

    Really? Travel time from house to work by car is 30 minutes. Since we do not have direct public transportation route, I need to use 4 bus lines, and that takes about 3 hours each way due to the non-synchronization of the unusual route to take. So with public transpo, I lose 5 hours each week day, and that leaves me 3 hours to work. I would be losing 62.5% of my salary, or just have to suck it up and waste 5 hours of my life each day. If we use the logic of Elon Musk that the Tesla saves them hours of time in the carpool lane, thereby, somebody earning $300/hr can fully recover the cost of the Tesla, then for my case, I would be losing an opportunity of $1,500/day when taking the public transpo. That translate to me losing $396,000 per year! So you can never ever yank out a Tesla owner from their car to use the public transpo.

    • ch0ves

      Yes, for only $10,000 a year, you can live a rich and prosperous life!

    • Jan Veselý

      That’s all because you don’t live in the city, you live in the sprawl. And your public transport sucks. You are forced to use a car by your urban landscape. Where are you from? Have you ever considered to move closer to your super-duper work?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Public transportation in the US is fairly poor. Some people who live and work in cities have 2+ hour commutes to work.

        If you’re a low rate wage earner moving closer to your job isn’t necessarily an option. People who do cleaning/security jobs in upscale parts of the city can’t afford to live close by.

        • Jan Veselý

          It’s time to change something, like in Oklahoma city.
          Start to build cities for people, not for cars.

        • wattleberry

          Yes, whilst recognising the shift to public transport everywhere, let’s not pretend that this is an unmitigated benefit; it’s something being forced on us by inadequate infrastructures and economics. Where’s the gain by no longer being able to afford the pleasure trip and having to discover new places on the tv or internet instead?
          One of the things I’m most looking forward to with EVs/RE is the restoration of facilities, at least to some extent, we once took for granted as one of the marks of progress.

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