The average American’s commute to work is about 12 miles one way, and never wanting to be out-done by anyone, the average Atlantan’s work commute is almost double that at around 22 miles one way or (11,000 miles per year). What’s even more impressive is that 90% of the American workforce drives to work solo. This increases traffic congestion and delays, produces harmful air contaminants, contributes to noise pollution, and elevates our stress level.
As always, we should do our homework first before contemplating our commuting options. The first thing we should all do is to calculate our daily and/or weekly commuting costs. Some people are very surprised once they start looking at the money trail. These costs can include:
Gasoline, if your car gets 20 miles per gallon and your round trip commute is 44 miles, then you are using 2.2 gallons per day, at $2.50 per gallon this costs you $5.50/day. When gas goes back up to $5.00 per gallon this cost translates to $11.00/day!
Parking, if you are lucky you may find a parking lot in Midtown that will charge you $75 a month, but on the average you can expect to pay $5 per day for parking ($100 per month), if your commute takes you downtown.
Vehicle Maintenance, the constant starting and stopping in rush hour traffic takes its toll in the way of wear and tear on your tires, brakes, engine and transmission. Let’s estimate $200 per year for maintenance or roughly $1.00/day.
Stress, the last thing any of us need at the end of a long stressful day is to get back in our cars and into traffic so we can add to our stress levels. We can’t put a $ value on this, but it does adversely impact all of us in one way or another.
Total estimated cost of commuting is therefore $11.50 per day, or $57.5 per week or $2,875 per year.
If you haven’t visited this site already it may be worth your while to check out the Clean Air Campaign website, and then search for the myridesmart.com link. This site can help you link your commuting profiles with others in similar living and working situations. You can actually find car pool partners, bike partners, local van pools, transit assistance, park & ride lots, and more about the benefits of telecommuting.
Consider the benefits of a 4 person car pool. You can potentially cut your commuting costs by 75% or by over $2,000 a year. Who can use an extra $2,000 cash per year, in these economic times? Put that money into a Roth IRA for 20 years and you can retire early.
For those of you who lease their cars, car pooling helps to minimize your vehicle miles traveled per year so you won’t have to worry about exceeding the annual levels established by your contract. You can sleep, read the paper, drink coffee, work on your laptop, surf the web, all while someone else drives. Additionally, a car pool offers the advantage of riding in the HOV lane which reduces your typical commute times by at least 15 to 25 minutes each way.
Commuting to work saves you money, lowers your stress level, produces a positive impact on the environment, and reduces un-necessary wear and tear on your personal vehicle. This is something everyone who works can participate in to some degree, whether it is 1, 3 or 5 days per week, every day you chose not to drive is a savings. The choice is yours, the benefit is universal.
“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.