With the average price of a new car in the US surpassing $47,000 vehicles are one of the most expensive line items on most people’s budget. Every time you drive your car, you slowly depreciate it. The costs are enormous!
This has led many people to consider further expanding public transportation. This summer, I lived in Chicago, which has a relatively strong public transportation system. Coming from suburban Detroit, I was used to being 100% dependent on my car. If I wanted to go anywhere, taking the bus would be unrealistic, so it was nice to be able to relax while taking a ride on the “L” (elevated train).
Now let’s compare the costs of public transit and cars. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be referencing AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ report which is updated each year.
According to AAA, if you drive about 10,000 miles per year, you will spend $5,910, on average. If you have a bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicle, you will spend a lot more. The costs really do add up. The chart below breaks down all the different average costs of owning each size of vehicle. Unsurprisingly, larger cars tend to cost more in general.
Now, if we take the average cost per month for a vehicle ($493) and compare it to an unlimited monthly transit pass in Chicago ($75), you’ll see that public transit will likely save you a lot of money. Adding in some costs for using Uber would probably bring you to $150/month. So, just by having access to a solid public transit system, most people can save about 67% (or more) on their transportation budget!
Unfortunately, public transportation will not be available in many areas for many reasons. Sometimes a city may be old, and adding a rail system wouldn’t be possible without disrupting people via eminent domain. Other times, the economics of an area will not allow for such a large expenditure. But this article is focusing on those who want to live in large cities with a reliable public transit system. So, next time you are thinking about moving to a city, consider how much you can save by ditching your car!
Written by: Jacob Patterson