Riding the bus has saved us $1,300 in 2.5 months
I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t find the amazement in something unless I experience it personally. In this case I’m referring to the savings that I’ve experienced since riding the bus to work. Given that I’m not a seasoned public transportation commuter, I think I’m lucky in that I ride a “flyer” (non-stop) bus that takes me from my neighborhood’s park & ride directly to downtown Austin. I’m kicking myself in the ass for not having ridden the bus for the 3+ years when I was working at another job that was located downtown. I say I’m lucky because given my limited research, if I had to catch a bus and meet connecting buses in between on my route to my destination, I can see how public transportation wouldn’t be cost- or time-effective (it would take 1 hour and 40 minutes for my ~12 mile ride to the office if the flyer route weren’t available). My bus stop is 2.7 miles from my house, so I ride my bicycle to the bus stop. I get a bit of exercise in the morning while listening to some tunes on my iPod. The bus travels the same exact route that I would take should I drive myself. The bus blows cold AC, has free WiFi, the seats are comfy, and, best of all, I don’t have to contend with traffic. I can sit back and read a book, catch up on Facebook on my phone, look out at the landscape and angry commuters, or just sit back, relax and think about the money that I’m saving.
This aren’t hard, “final” numbers, but more of an approximation given that we know what our monthly car payment was (we’ve since sold one of our cars), and what gas and insurance were costing us per month:
- $275 car payment
- $200 monthly gas
- $60 insurance
Now, if my math is correct, since I started riding the bus in mid-June, we’ve saved $1,329.80 in just me driving to work (well, and a few miles on the weekend)! Subtract the two bus passes at $30 each that I’ve since purchased, but those barely put a ding in the cost savings.
It really puts into perspective how much transportation actually costs us. Now, I’m not apposed to personal transportation. I love having a vehicle, I love driving, having my own space & music, but when you take a few minutes and look at the numbers, it’s pretty easy to see where a large chunk of your money is going. To me, I see: I can spend $535 per month to drive myself (with stress), or $30 per month (without stress).
Since riding the bus, I’ve learned that Google Maps in my very good friend. Google’s bus schedule is far more accurate than Austin’s Capital Metro schedule. Google also gives you a handy “Estimated Driving Costs” calculator for each bus route you look up. Google tells me that my route just to get to work would cost me $5.13. That number doesn’t take into account a car payment, and it’s allocating the average cost per mile allowed for tax deductions by businesses — our car gets terrible gas mileage (~10 miles per gallon).
Savings like these get my wheels spinning (pun intended). In April 2010 I paid off our student loans in full, 14 years ahead of schedule. After being unemployed for the better part of 2010, my first goal will be to rebuild our “oh, shit” fund. Then it’s onto how to get that money to work for us; that’s while keeping my fingers crossed that our home’s air conditioner doesn’t fail on us before the end of summer.