Until the Robot Cars Arrive, Here Is How Much You’re Paying Per Year of Car Ownership
Nicole Dieker

I live in a city of about 120k people that’s big enough to usually be named on weather maps during regional TV weather forecasts. I work 12 miles away, in the next town over. If I decided to take public transport to work tomorrow, I could. It would have to leave my house at 7:30, catch one bus, transfer twice, and still walk the better part of a mile to get to work right at 9:00, when I’m supposed to be starting my day. My bus transfers will happen appox 10 minutes apart, so it’s not likely I’ll be able to focus long enough to read a book or do anything productive with my time.

My day ends at 5:30, and again I have to walk a ways to the bus stop, so I’m probably not going to catch the 5:36, especially since I’m often finishing up a project or phone call right up to the minute. That’s a shame, because on average I’d be home in about an hour if I caught that bus. Instead I’ll wait around for the 5:55, transfer to a second bus, and get home at roughly 7:30. I would have 27 minutes before the first transfer, so maybe I’ll be able to read for a bit.

If I buy an all day pass, this will cost me $4. An annual pass, the best deal, is $660. It will save me cash, but I will have paid for it dearly in time.

Alternately, I could jump in my car at 8:40, get to work on time, and with rush hour traffic on the way home, still be home by 6:00. I’ll have the freedom to stop at the grocery store on the way home and buy a week’s worth of groceries if I want to, or meet up with a friend for lunch, because I have access to a car. Instead of spending 12 hours traveling to work, working, and traveling home again, that whole process will cost me just under 9.5 hours. I’ll have finished eating the dinner I cooked from scratch right around the time bus-me would be stumbling in the door.

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