Friday, May 02, 2008

The Case Against Public Transit

My wife recently go a new job closer to home and as a result will not be commuting to work on the train anymore. Off to the car dealership to buy a car. In the process of shopping for a car, I came to the realization that some of the benefits of public transit arnt all they are made out to be. Transit is made out to be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to driving. Lets compare.

The biggest issue I have is price. Living in the GTA, my wife had to up to 3 different transit systems between home and work (usually 2 because I drove her to the train station) every day.

The cost for each is as follows:

Go train - 4 X 10 ride tickets ~ $210
TTC - tokens ~$88
Local transit - $25 (likely cheaper than the gas & depreciation that was actually incurred)
Total cost: $323

Compare this to the monthly cost of a brand new economy car of about $200/month. If one were to go used it would be a little bit cheaper.

Add insurance of about $130 a month, gas of $150 and maintenance of $25 (assuming new) and we are at $505 per month to drive a car.

So it works out that the car is about $180 per month more than driving, but in this example the two total values arnt really apples to apples comparisons. When you own/lease a car you have the ability to use it 24/7, where as the cost of transit is just to get to/from work. I would have expected significantly more savings when comparing transit to driving.

The second factor touted is convenience. Adds show people sleeping, reading the paper and relaxed. This simply isnt the case. The subway cars of the TTC and the train cars of the GO during rush hour turn into cattle cars where the benefits of seats are usually rumour more than fact. Getting out of the train station is also painful. It can often take up to 20minutes just to leave the area as people sprint to their cars, or to the waiting cars of loved ones. All of the above assumes that the GO/TTC are even running on time and arnt on strike. Without fail 5 or so times per year there are multi-hour delays getting to/from work as a result of some sort of mechanical failure or accident and of course the all too common strike.

In a world where we are constantly being told to do what is best for the environment, in the case of transit vs car I am personally going to need more incentive.


At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure everyone's circumstance is unique, for me a bus pass costs $68 before federal tax credit. That's much cheaper than car payment, insurance, fuel, and parking.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Jeadie5 said...

Mine is more a statement on the GTA where the bureaucracies of each city prevent a consolidated monthly pass.

I also take issue that most monthly passes require 40+ uses to be more worthwhile than buying tickets in bulk. One sick/vacation day, or any shift work and this isnt worthwhile.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Krispy said...

I understand what you're saying about the monthly pass not being worthwhile when taking a sick day or two. But in the case of GO transit, doesn't the pass tax credit more than offset the additional cost?

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Live in Montreal, the montreal version of Go train plus subway pass is ~80$/month. you suckers in the GTA pay thru the nose for everything and live under smoggy skies and dodge gangsta homie bullets in your downtown. TO SUX

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